BENGALURU: While businesses are slowing resuming in the city, the artiste community continues to remain affected adversely. With an aim to support artistes across Karnataka in these difficult times, city-based artist ensemble Still Space Theatre has undertaken an initiative called For Artists and Arts. The group was earlier helping migrant workers in Bengaluru by providing them food and other essential commodities.
“After the lockdown was lifted, the migrant workers asserted that they were in a better position since work had resumed. Later on, we came across an initiative for artistes in Mumbai, and realised that the artiste community also remains heavily affected, and that this won’t change in the coming months,” says programme coordinator Anita Gandhi, adding that while some performers in the city could resort to online means, rural artistes are technologically unaware.
The initiative has provided ration kits and other essential products to over 140 folk performers, theatre actors and singers living in Hubbali, Mysuru, Tumakuru, Shivamogga and other places. They further aim to support 500 artistes, and have also set up a crowdfunding option on their website where one can pledge to donate a grocery kit for `580.
The aid has brought some positivity in the lives of artistes like Helen, a Bengaluru-based actor who has been playing small roles in TV dramas, before the lockdown brought her daily earnings to a halt. “An entire community of artistes who are dependent on their art for a living has been affected,” says Helen. Agrees Pradeep Acharya, a Yakshagana artiste based in Udupi, who says being unable to work is a growing concern, but the aid has provided some reassurance. “Luckily, I have a house of my own so paying rent is not a worry. But I haven’t paid loan instalments since March. While the bank has given me time until September to resume payment, the current situation is worrisome,” says Acharya.
Artistic director-actor Deepak Subramanya points out that full-time theatre practitioners are completely out of work. “The technical fraternity taking care of lighting, makeup, etc are among the most affected, and our first thought of aid was around them,” says Subramanya, adding that they also plan to guide rural artistes on online alternatives to showcase their art.