Bihar artists demand pension, life insurance citing poor financial status
Artists from Bihar including Padma Shri awardee Shyam Sharma have requested the state government to consider life insurance cover and monthly pension apart from government jobs to support artists- a community, whose earnings has been hit hard due to the coronavirus pandemic.
A group of performing and visual artists submitted their demands to Bihar’s chief secretary Tripurari Sharan stating that state patronage was required to help artists support their families while they devoted their time to their art.
“Who will take care of the artists who are old and have no money? Monthly pension is important for them and equally important is the provision of life insurance. Something should be done by the government in this direction,” Shyam Sharma, former principal of the College of Arts and Crafts, said.
The community has cited government job quotas for sports persons to demand similar support including scholarships for artists. In contrast, state support to artists is irregular and mainly comes through various awards. While their work gets promoted through government organised or supported cultural festivals and exhibitions, they do not enjoy the security of a stable government job.
Birendra Kumar, former member of the Eastern Zonal Cultural Centre (EZCC) and a painter said the need for economic support has been felt intensely during the Covid pandemic induced lockdown.
“Most of those artists who have been dependent upon government programmes like exhibitions, art camps, workshops are in severe financial crisis as all activities have remained suspended due to Covid-19 pandemic and lockdown. Those dependent on the sale of art works to different government departments, too, need support to survive,” he said.
He added that the government should also consider setting up an art counsel to sort out issues related to artists and events, he added.
Kathak danseuses Anjula and Rajeev said state patronage was also needed to support classical art and artists, but it was missing. “Though the place has produced musicians like Bharat Ratna Bismillah Khan, the kind of patronage which is needed for the art and artists to flourish, is missing here.”
Shehnai Maestro Bismillah Khan was born into a family of court musicians in Bihar. Chief secretary Tripurari Sharan could not be contacted for comments.
Khan was born into a family of court musicians in Bihar. He was apprenticed to his uncle, Ali Baksh, who played the shehnai in Vishvanatha, a Hindu temple in Varanasi.
Chief secretary Tripurari Sharan could not be contacted for comments, but culture minister Alok Ranjan said his department has invited artists to submit their work by July 15, which will then be judged for cash rewards. “Solo performers will be given ₹1,500, while a group will be given ₹3,000 and the best artists will be given ₹10,000,” he said