Ridiculing the importance accorded to page-three items in newspapers, a group of famous musicians today appealed to the print medium to bring fine arts to the front page.
"Bring the news of fine arts and artistes to the front page and take unpleasant things to the subsequent pages. We don't want to read unpleasant things in the morning," remarked eminent carnatic singer M Balamurali Krishna at a joint press conference here, addressed by the who's who of the Indian music world. <b1>
The musicians, representing both Hindustani and carnatic music styles, have come together under the umbrella of the All India Musicians Group (AIMG) to preserve the art and support up-and-coming artistes and indigent (poor) musicians.
"I think the front page is reserved only for cricket," commented renowned tabla player Zakir Hussain. Coming down heavily on the page-three culture, he said "now-a-days people first look only at page three where they get to read about persons whom they don't know".
But those persons were in the news just because they went to a party."
Stressing on the importance of media's role in taking any art form to the masses, the musicians appealed to newspapers to give more space for arts.
The AIMG, formed two years ago, held its third meeting here to "take stock of the current scenario in the music world and to identify issues which are prejudicial to its moving in the right direction." <b2>
Eminent classical vocalists Ajoy Chakrabarty, Rajan Mishra, Sajan Mishra, santoor player Shivkumar Sharma, sitarist Arvind Parikh, carnatic singer Sudha Raghunathan and Mandolin artiste U Shrinivas were also present.
The musicians noted that the wave of globalisation that was sweeping across the world had moved the Indian music to the masses -- away from the patronage of the elite.
Expressing concern over the "meagre" financial and related support extended by the Governments -- both at the Central and state levels -- to the cause of music, the musicians said Prasar Bharathi had increased the allocation for culture from Rs 33 crore to Rs 49 crore, consequent to their meeting with officials concerned.
Stating that there could be around 25,000 artistes, including those who were not graded, in the country, Parikh said slots had been obtained from All India Radio in cities like Mumbai, Chennai and Kolkata for up-and-coming artistes with the sponsorship of corporate houses.
"Our most important agenda will be to collect money from corporate houses and promote young talents," he said. He said the AIMG had also held talks with insurance companies like Oriental and New India Insurance to evolve special policies for aged and indigent musicians at a subsidised premium. The musicians also stressed the need for music education in schools and colleges in order to create a next generation of musicians as well as audience.
"In a nutshell, our appeal is to adopt an artiste and nurture her/his career. In this world of globalisation, let the roots of our culture remain strong and intact," Zakir said.