The rush for online concerts was quickly exhausted. The charm of it during barely two years of pandemic. It was good to reach a million internet viewers, but it soon became apparent that reaching a much smaller audience, several thousand people in physical presence, has unprecedented appeal. Festival organizers and art curators who have spent nearly 20 months holding artists and performers in their most difficult year of survival are ready to open the doors today. The cultural calendar is busy at the moment. Even though the Omicron variant threatens to trigger another shutdown, events have taken the hybrid formula route – optimizing the best of both worlds with the necessary precautions.
The Varanasi ghats have come back to life with music and verses from Kabir. After a two year hiatus, Mahindra Kabira’s team were back in action to spend 3 days singing and reflecting on Kabir’s teachings through performances by Malini Awasthi, Pt. Anoop Misra and Gayatri Asokan ,. Sanjoy Roy of Teamwork Arts, who runs this festival, says: “It seems most audiences are eagerly awaiting the opportunity to celebrate and although some are still reluctant to go out in public, the wider population is keen to move on. before. Either way, you have to be careful. “
Unlike music and theater, visual arts that involve paintings and sculptures have been less successful in creating an online experience. Lisa Pingale, who runs a gallery and community space in Pune called Kalagram, has been waiting for two years before putting on a return show to her visitors. This was a historic group exhibition titled “Contemporary Signatures” featuring 50 prominent artists including SH Raza, Krishen Khanna and Jehangir Sabaval.
“Art is such a tangible element. Attendance at this show was a little higher than before the pandemic. Real art lovers love the experience of seeing the painting live, ”says Lisa.
As Sanjoy busies herself with her next festival, the Jaipur Literature Festival, and Lisa prepares for her annual collaboration with Dastkar for the Pune Crafts Bazaar, it is evident that many such curators are now busy with a shock schedule. to bring back the buzz in the cultural sector. But again, when it comes to individual and private sector efforts, the question remains when the government will provide support in terms of friendly policy and financial access.
What I have learned from my conversations with performers and artists during the pandemic is that their demands are straightforward and achievable by the government. Provision of infrastructure where they can perform and present their art. Reservation fees should be waived at all government-owned amphitheatres, exhibition halls and galleries.
“The government tends to pretend to honor India’s ancient culture and heritage, and does little to provide much-needed support, whether in politics or finance,” said Sanjoy.
Lisa also insists on the sensitivity of this time. “At this point, artists and artisans need help. Art is still considered a luxury. But these are unique skills to be preserved over generations.
Other countries have established a strong Cultural Fund and relief programs for creative members of their communities. In India, there has still not been a single such dialogue.
The opinions expressed above are those of the author.
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