Relief Fund for the Indian Art Sector
Updated: Jun 19, 2020
The Next 6-8 Months Critical for Indian Arts Sector to Survive and a Fund to Help Indian Artists Needs be Set-up
Half Step Rock Founder, Ajay Chanam, shared the frame with other media professionals on June 10th 2020, at a webinar organised by Indian Institute of Entrepreneurship discussing the future of Media & Entertainment post COVID World and highlighted the need to first protect the already vulnerable Artists community in India, living hand-to-mouth even before COVID, and now in a critical stage with all events and performances in the country cancelled.
He further added, “While the pandemic has impacted everything, everyone in the system isn’t equally vulnerable and we need prioritize our relief activities towards the most vulnerable first — the artist community, especially the independent artists, who depend on live performances, shoots and project-based work for paying their bills which have all come to a grinding halt in the last 2 months with most activities showing no signs of return to normalcy anytime soon. While the world will come out of the pandemic in the next 6-8 months, this short time frame is capable of inflicting irreparable loss to India’s already vulnerable talent pool if not supported financially. Directly. By putting money into their pockets.”
Abhijit Sharma, Director Indian Institute of Entrepreneurship, speaking exclusively to Half Step Rock on the subject said, “Artists and musicians bring out the child in a man and make him see and feel life in its varied forms. It inspires people and takes them to higher levels. Bhupen Hazarika, very aptly puts it in one of his songs; “while a world might think that a singer is apparently a useless person, he paints a wonderful hue in the sky blazing with glory so as to inspire the society and he spreads happiness around.” So it is impossible to view a world with no creative arts. But we are moving toward such an event, with the COVID-19 bringing in a large crisis for the people involved in the creative arts, like music, entertainment etc. We need the world of music, entertainment and creative arts to survive, in order to wash away from our soul, the dust of everyday life. The industry also provides jobs to a large number of people. I, therefore, appeal to the government, to build up a fund to take care of the people in the creative arts, who have been affected severely due to this crisis.”
New Zealand has already announced a $175 million fund to save thousands of jobs in the arts sector, hit twice as hard compared to other industries during the COVID crisis. Similarly, the Australian Government also announced a $27million relief package to arts sector, putting policies and development programs in place, enabling the music community to last and recover. London based Musicians’ Union Launched a £1 million ($1.1 million) 'Coronavirus Hardship Fund', early this year, for UK musicians that already lost nearly £14M in live earnings. A UK based charity ‘Help Musicians’ set up to support musicians for their household expenses and other living costs is now running out of cash and is urging the Government to act if musicians are to have any hope of surviving financially over the next few months, in the country.
Music streaming giant Spotify, has donated to multiple organizations raising funds to help musicians across countries a sum of $10 million, so far. In March 2020, U.S. $2.2 trillion coronavirus relief package was passed with several provisions to help music workers stay afloat. However, a Freelancers Union poll survey indicates that 84% of music freelancers are still waiting on coronavirus relief funds, in the U.S. IFPI along with other music organisations, recently urged the Member States and the European Commission to “take a stance and significantly increase the national and EU budgets dedicated to culture, and within that to music.”
The Government and Music Industry in India can come together to setup websites or platforms like ‘I Lost My Gig’ wherein artists from all over the country can voluntarily submit their losses due to cancelled events, and depending on the numbers collated, raise funds to pay them a percentage of their loss, helping them survive the next 6 months.
It is imperative we face the ground reality before it’s too late – the number is glaring, suffering is real and many that contribute to the $280 million live music industry in India, are yet to receive any help while struck by the ongoing pandemic.
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