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PROTECTING ARTISTS AND THE ARTS

Focus: GS-I Art and Culture

Introduction

Although there is tremendous diversity and excellence of fine arts, performance arts and crafts — folk, classical, and contemporary — there are neither authoritative definitions nor data on the size or shape of “Creative economy”.

Troubled times for the creative sector

  • A large section of artists and artisans are part of the informal economy – weavers, folk singers, tribal dancers and even classical music performers. Some of them depend on agriculture to supplement their income for part of the year.
  • According to a recent report: MSMEs, which have taken a beating due to the lockdown, make up almost 90% of the creative sector.
  • Of these businesses, almost one-third are facing a loss of roughly 50% of their annual income in the first quarter.
  • 50% of the events and entertainment management sector saw 90% of their events cancelled, and almost two-thirds of organisations established between four and 10 years ago have stopped functioning.
  • The Creative sector is one that struggles for the most part even in the best of times.
  • Support from the private sector is unreliable and insufficient — further compromised by rigid CSR rules that make it difficult to justify donations in this area.
  • This has stifled experimentation and innovation in the arts as well as preservation of heritage.

A list of recommendations

Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce & Industry (FICCI) has sent a list of recommendations to the Ministry of Culture that can go a long way in mitigating the damage.

Amongst these recommendations are:

  1. Releasing grants that are pending since 2017, despite being approved
  2. Diverting the budgets already allocated for state-sponsored cultural festivals to help artists in need
  3. Ensuring health coverage to artists under Ayushman Bharat or the Central Government Health Scheme
  4. Moratoriums on GST payments
  5. Investing in digital infrastructure that can help artists take their work online.

Conclusion

  • In these circumstances, there is a real opportunity to create a cultural economy that helps millions of performers move away from agriculture and sustain themselves without having to migrate for temporary jobs.
  • This is but one of the innumerable ways in which nurturing the creative arts can help strengthen India’s economy.
  • It can also simultaneously bolster our soft power.

-Source: The Hindu

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December 2022
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