BENGALURU: Protesting against the government’s move to levy 18 per cent GST or Goods and Services Tax on theatre, and other Indian performance arts, Jagriti Theatre has floated a petition online against it.
The petition requests Finance Minister Arun Jaitley and GST council for exemption of GST on performing arts.
Jagdish Raja, director of development at Jagriti says, “We are going to be charged 18 per cent by the government for our attempt to keep dance and cultural programmes alive.”
The current status of performance arts is already battered, he opines, and adds that instead of being offered relief for Jagriti’s endeavours, the government is penalising the arts.
On tickets less than `250, there will be a GST exemption, informs Jagdish, who adds, “Jagriti normally charges `300 for a ticket, after GST implementation, this would go up till `354. Now, this will not necessarily reduce our audience, but it isn’t going to generate any major income for the government either".
He states that even with the GST implementation, the sum collected through performance arts would only amount to a few lakhs in contrast with crores of rupees generated by retail business.
Jagdish says, “This isn't about making theatre tickets cheaper for audience members, but about supporting the art.”
Instead of encouraging the arts and artistes, the proposed 18 per cent GST is a burden that can stifle the performing arts states Jagriti's online petition. "Even a Bharatnatyam dancer goes to a guru to learn, spends years in training and then presents his/her/their performance at a local sabha. And you are going to tax that performance? Are you fools,” says Jagdish.
The government-run theatre venues such as Ravindra Kalakshetra and Gurunanak Bhavan Auditorium mostly rent their space out to performers, so the tax would hit the artistes and not them. “Jagriti as a performance space aims to further art and culture in the city. Following a long day at work, people come seek refuge in art. They come watch theatre for mental stimulation. This move by the government is penalising art,” says Jagdish.
Around 8 pm, over 170 people had signed Jagriti's online petition against GST.