The government's project of creating a database of artists and art forms spread over six lakh villages in the country will begin soon, a minister said on Thursday.

"The National Mission on Cultural Mapping of India will be launched in Pandit Deen Dayal Upadhyay's hometown, Mathura, in a day-long block-level mega talent hunt programme on June 17," Culture Minister Mahesh Sharma told the media here on Thursday. 

"The beginning of the Rs 470-crore project is part of our year-long plan to celebrate Deen Dayal Upadhyay's 100th birth anniversary," he said.

The minister explained that this mission would focus on data mapping, demography building, formalising processes and bringing the cultural activities under one web-based umbrella for better results.

"There will be talent hunt competitions having several rounds from block level to the national level and we shall distribute cash prizes to the winners," he said. 

The project will rate artists and writers under three categories — A, B, and C — on the basis of which they will be sent to various events.

Sharma said that artists could register themselves online to be part of the mission. 

"We are eying to launch massive cultural awareness campaigns, so that no artist is left behind. To associate themselves with the project, artists can register themselves on our web portal —," he said. 

For those who do not have access to Internet, enumeration teams will visit villages for geo-mapping of artists and their art forms.

Sharma said that the cultural mapping of India portal would serve as a repository of information about cultural assets and resources for essential planning, sustainable economic development and for preserving the scattered and near-extinct art forms.

After Mathura, the ministry will organise similar block-level events in other states.

The current round includes Shimoga block in Shimoga district in Karnataka; Thanesar block in Kurukshetra, Haryana; Chauri-Chaura block in Gorakhpur district in Uttar Pradesh; and Saraikela block, Saraikela-Kharsawan district in Jharkhand.