Artists of Dehradun said successive governments have done little to promote art and culture in the state. With Uttarakhand set to go to polls on February 15, a cross-section of young artists -- visual and performing -- shared their concerns, and expectations from a new government in a freewheeling chat at the HT office:
Politics and arts
Artists lamented that arts barely figured on the agenda of political parties before or after elections. Megha Kathuria, a professional artist and fine arts faculty, said politicians were “not even remotely concerned” about art or culture. “It hardly finds a mention on their manifestos before elections or on their priority list after winning (the elections),” she said.
Art student Devyaani Bansal said there were “no opportunities or promotion of independent art” by the government. “The upcoming government should focus on this.”
Artists called for creation of cultural centres for all art forms – fine arts, dance, music, theatre and so on– which would be free from political indulgence and equipped with top facilities. “We are serious about our passion and don’t need anything else but a platform like a common centre or hall where we can go and perform for free. Otherwise, we have to shell out anywhere between ₹5,000 and ₹15,000 for holding a show,” said theatre artist Sheetal Naithani.
“There’s hardly any ideal venue for art, theatre and other activities here. The government never encourages artists during their struggle period – it jumps to felicitate them only after an artist becomes famous,” theatre artist Gouri Agarwal said.
Exposure to artists
Shradha Bharti, a Bharatanatyam dancer, wanted the government to sponsor events where local artists could gain exposure by performing in front of the audience. Perspective drawing artist Sanjana Vasudev demanded regular workshops and exhibitions for artists. Theatre artist Garima Joshi said lack of exposure means a “huge loss not only for artists who wish to take art to their audience but also for the connoisseurs who love arts.”
Art in schools
Fine art practitioner Shikha Jaiswal Misra demanded that the new government make it compulsory for private and state-run schools to hold classes on art forms everyday “for at least an hour”. A robust promotion of arts in schools will help children identify their hidden talents at an early age, said art student Akanksha Singh.
Facilities in remote areas
Artists expressed concern over lack of facilities for arts in remote areas of Uttarakhand. “If artists settled in the state capital are facing so many challenges in the absence of government support, it can be imagined how artists in the remote areas fare,” said water colour artist Durga Negi. “Many budding artists are forced to take up alternative careers in the absence of facilities and exposure as survival is also important,” said charcoal artist Kanika Soni.