CHENNAI: Even as the State government recently ordered payment of Rs 2,000 special assistance each to 6,810 folk artists in view of the pandemic, following the Madras High Court directive, the protests by the artists erupted across the State on Monday against the restrictions imposed on temple festivals in view of the second wave of Covid.
During the lockdown last year, the government had announced special assistance to members of various welfare boards of unorganised workers.
The folk artists who were not members of these boards moved the Madras High Court seeking extension of similar assistance to them too and the court pronounced a favourable verdict on September 1.
After due procedures, 6,810 folk artists enrolled themselves as members of the Tamil Nadu Folk Artists Welfare Board and became eligible for the special assistance.
The beneficiaries will include artists under the categories of nadaswaram, thavil, vocal, therukoothu, mangala isai, etc.
On Monday, the artists held demonstrations and submitted representations across the State demanding the government to allow their performances during festivals and enhance the assistance amount.
In Dharmapuri, over 100 artistes in costumes playing musical instruments reached the Collectorate and requested the Collector to lift the restrictions and save their livelihoods.
The artists in several delta districts petitioned their respective District Collectors and said that the assistance was barely sufficient.
“This amount is what we earn in a single night during the Kodai Thiruvizha. The government should come forward and kindly relax the restrictions,” said B Ravichandran, a representative of Folk Artists Welfare Association in Nagapattinam.
While over 100 artists led by Karur Folk Artists Association Secretary Annadurai visited Karur Collectorate and submitted a petition, members of two folk artistes associations staged a protest at Thanjavur collectorate premises demanding assistance of Rs 20,000 for all.
In Tirunelveli, artists urged government to limit the attendance cap for festivals instead of banning the programmes.
Artists led by renowned singer Chinnaponnu Kumar took out a similar protest at Thanjavur Railway Junction on Monday.
(With inputs from Karur, Thanjavur, Dharmapuri, Nagapattinam, Tirunelveli and Virudhunagar)