To help small town performance artistes who have been struggling to survive amidst the pandemic, Sufi Kathak Foundation has launched an Artist Sustainability Program. Under the programme, the foundation proposes to document the Qawwali groups performing in the dargahs or other spaces, and bring these to global audiences via live broadcast or recorded videos. “These artistes will be adequately compensated for the show and their work will be shared on social media and YouTube bringing them the visibility that they so need,” says President of the Sufi Kathak Foundation Manjari Chaturvedi, who has conceptualised the programme, adding that these artistes are brilliant musicians but not tech-savvy enough to keep up in the world of online events and performances.
The Foundation proposes to organise10 online concerts in this year-long programme, each having a group of 8-10 musicians performing at the local shrine (dargah) they are associated with. This also gives audiences a chance to see them perform in their home environment, not in an auditorium to which the artistes have travelled from their hometowns – the world will see a different side to them, and will be able to contextualize their art in the place where it comes from as well.
The live/recorded concerts will be shared on social media platforms, YouTube, and the international Google Arts & Culture platform. Not just performing artistes but the donors will also benefit from the visibility that comes with these platforms.
“Due to Covid19 pandemic, open performances have become a thing of past for performing artistes. All these artistes, especially those in small towns have been struggling to survive. Our Foundation is associated with over 400 performance artist all over the county, and we realize that they are under a lot of stress, struggling to make their ends meet,” says Chaturvedi, who had earlier supported 150 small town artistes raising funds through its Support An Artiste programme.
Support An Artiste was a short-term program through the Foundation collected donations for artistes belonging to areas like Kakori, Barabanki, Badaun, Lucknow, Sitapur, Khairabad, Fatehpur Sikri, Jhansi and Verka (Punjab) among others. “But now we want to develop a more robust and long-lasting support programme for these keepers of our nation’s rich cultural heritage, and also to rethink the paradigm around performance in light of the pandemic.
“The pandemic has caused not just the financial crisis for artistes but also a mental health crisis, with many falling into depression. IT is time something be done for them,” says Charurvedi, fearing that inaction at this point may lead to artistes abandoning their art, which would a loss of our cultural heritage.