Delhi deputy chief minister Manish Sisodia also holds the art, culture and language portfolio. (ANI)
Delhi deputy chief minister Manish Sisodia also holds the art, culture and language portfolio. (ANI)

Sisodia to review cultural plans delayed by pandemic

Manish Sisodia wrote to the art and culture department last week and exhorted it to use art as a medium to increase awareness about vaccines.
By Sadia Akhtar, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
UPDATED ON JUN 25, 2021 03:21 AM IST

Deputy chief minister Manish Sisodia will review various plans of the government’s art and culture department that have been delayed due to the Covid-19 outbreak, department officials said.

They said the plans will have to be altered in view of the impact of the pandemic and resultant lockdowns on funding. “A pandemic-influenced view of culture is needed in the current circumstances. Besides, spending towards projects is likely to be reduced,” said an official, who asked not to be named. The official added that Sisodia, who holds the art, culture and language portfolio, wrote to the art and culture department last week and exhorted it to use art as a medium to increase awareness about vaccines.

Abhinandita Dayal Mathur, adviser to the deputy chief minister, said Sisodia has underlined the need to review and implement measures in view of the pandemic. “More than ever before, we need a cultural policy amid the pandemic. In such times, we need art and culture to derive hope and keeping the same in mind, plans will be reviewed and implemented,” said Mathur.

The Delhi Cultural Policy Advisory Committee, that was set up last year to formulate a comprehensive cultural policy, is also expected to submit its report to Sisodia. “The focus will be on implementing cultural policy reforms in a manner that art can be used to give hope in these difficult times, while ensuring a dignified way of living for artists,” the department official quoted above said.

Earlier this year,the Delhi government announced plans to commemorate 75 years of India’s Independence with 75-weeks of celebrations. The plans were stalled amid the spike in Covid-19 cases in April.

Sanjay Garg, the chief archivist at Delhi Archives, said many activities, such as plans for the commemoration of 75 years of Independence, might be recalibrated in view of the pandemic, “While we have been planning activities keeping the pandemic in mind, things don’t look very concrete right now in the current scenario. There is uncertainty. We are trying to formulate programmes that can be conducted online while prioritising safety. We might have to wait and monitor the situation for one to two months before we can kick off new activities on the ground,” said Garg.

As the city slowly and steadily unlocks itself after a punishing fourth wave of infections, artists who are part of the Delhi government’s street theatre and performing arts fellowship, have started campaigns aimed at quelling vaccine hesitancy. Sisodia launched the fellowship on January 15 this year to promote street art in Delhi. It supports 500 artists from diverse backgrounds including theatre, music, dance and fine arts.The fellowship comes under Delhi government’s department of art, culture and languages and offers a monthly stipend of 5,000 to the selected artists.

“On an experimental basis, we started the campaign and scaled it up after receiving good response. While some people are a little rigid, we have been able to capture attention and many people have now started paying attention to our message. We have performed at four different clusters in the city in June alone,” said Shyama Manna, 21, a street art fellow.

Manna said performances were focusing on making people aware of ‘Jahan Vote, Wahan vaccination’ campaign, besides busting myths pertaining to vaccination.

“We tell people about the vaccination campaign, by which they can get inoculated at their polling booth located in the neighbourhood. Often, there are rumours surrounding the vaccines. We dispel these rumours with factual information,” said Manna.

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