Bhopal: Grants on hold, no earnings & savings gone, lament artistes

Bhopal: Artistes from the state capital have faced difficulties in making ends meet due to non-receipt of grants from the Central and the state governments.

The last time they got their annual grant from the state government was in May 2020. But in the case of the Central Government, most of the grants remain unpaid for two-three years. Apparently, the governments have other priorities.

Though markets, malls, restaurants, cinema halls in the city have reopened and schools are set to reopen next week, auditoriums and galleries are still closed. And there is a complete ban on cultural events and activities due to the restrictions imposed during the second wave of the Covid-19. The state culture department has been organising an online event, ‘Gamak,’ to help the artistes. It is, however, proving to be a drop in the ocean.

Director of Sagar Guncha Natrang Theatre Group, Bhopal, Bishna Chauhan says that she neither got grant from the state nor Centre till now. The actor, who has been in the field for 25 years, lives in a rented house with her mother and sister. Her situation became even worse when she met with an accident and didn’t have the money for treatment. She took a loan of Rs 7,000 for buying medicines. “I am surviving on loan,” the actor says. Shows and rehearsals are the ‘Pranavayu’ for the artists of the performing arts. They can very well rehearse but where will they perform because all auditoriums are closed. And how will they survive, she asks. “Artistes can’t beg. So, we urge our Prime Minister, chief minister and culture minister to support artists by releasing our grant as soon as possible,” Chauhan laments.

Similarly, director of Koshish Natya Sanstha, Saroj Sharma, who has been in the field for around 40 years says she didn't receive a grant from the central government for 4-5 years. She had applied for a state government annual grant in March but still didn’t get it. “There are lots of problems but what to do. Sab bhagwan bharose hai…,” she says. Sharma got some work in film and TV shows after the unlocking of the city but she is still waiting for payment.

Director of Naya Theater Ramchandra Singh says that he doesn’t have any idea about the state government’s grant because they don’t get any. He got the Central government’s grant for 2018-19 last year. “Paper work is the main problem,” she says.

Arghya Kala Samiti’s Vaishali Gupta says her central government’s grant is still not cleared, presumably because the Culture ministry has got a new minister! She has applied for the state government’s annual grant but is yet to get it. “Whom do we turn to? What do we do? Kisi ko koi fark nahi padta,” says Gupta, adding that the government was not sensitive to the needs of the artistes. She is surviving on her savings. “We have to pay salaries to eight artistes of the Samiti. I have already mortgaged my home and gold Jewellery. I have nothing more to offer,” says Gupta who has been a ballet choreographer and an artist for around 40 years.

A freelance graphic artist Anil Ijeri says they have not received any government aid. Ijeri, who lives in a rented accommodation with his wife and two children, says that he has been facing problems for the past one year and making ends meet has become very difficult now. “We are running our home by taking loans from my friends and acquaintances,” says Anil who has been in the field for 13 years.

Another freelance painter Dharmendra Kumar says he has got ‘zero’ support from the government. In fact, two installments of his scholarship have been pending since 2014. “I don’t have any expectations from the government. So, I mostly work for private clients,” he says.

Free Press Journal