By Shriya Roy
Over a hundred million people across the country earn their primary or secondary income from the art they practice. Unfortunately, the Covid-19 crisis has decimated the arts sector and left most artistes and artisans bereft of income.
In an attempt to provide some much needed support to artistes and artisans across the country and celebrate their craft by highlighting their stories, not-for-profit organisation Teamwork Fine Arts Society has launched the initiative #ArtMatters, which works towards creating awareness about the new reality faced by artistes across India and develops support channels for them. Not just that, #ArtMatters recently announced a fundraising gala called ‘I Believe #ArtMatters’ to raise funds for the artiste community.
Scheduled for October 4, the virtual concert will feature over 450 artistes and performers, including some of the most celebrated contemporary and classical musicians, dancers, comedians, visual artistes and theatre practitioners. The gala will showcase a range of performances by the likes of Grammy Award-winning percussionist Pt Vikku Vinayakram, playback singer Kavita Krishnamurthi, etc. Celebrated music composers AR Rahman, Salim-Sulaiman, Shekhar Ravjiani, Amit Trivedi and Shantanu Moitra will also be part of the event. The internationally-acclaimed Shillong Chamber Choir is also among the list of artistes slated to perform.
Artistes from different artistic spheres will be part of the gala. These include classical artistes Shubhendra Rao and Saskia Rao-de-Haas on the sitar and cello, mridangam and Konnakkol artiste BC Manjunath, Hindustani classical vocalist Vidya Shah to name a few. Kailash Kher, Gurdaas Maan, Usha Uthup, the Raghu Dixit Project and Indian Ocean will also perform. Sufi and Punjabi vocalist Harshdeep Kaur, playback singer Shilpa Rao, fusion act Advaita and Bengali-British sarod prodigy Soumik Datta are also part of the exciting lineup.
The gala will witness dance performances by renowned Indian classical dancers Aditi Mangaldas, Malavika Sarukkai, Manjari Chaturvedi and Rukmini Vijaykumar.
“Artistes and artisans across India have been impacted directly by Covid-19, which has led to a loss of work and income. #ArtMatters grew out of a need to focus attention on the plight of this vast sector, which spans the ragis in gurdwaras and the Bauls of Bengal to kathak and bharatnatyam dancers to those who weave magnificent temple and Banarasi saris to the toymakers and theatre actors, stage designers, stagehands and more. I Believe #ArtMatters creates a platform for the arts to resonate and enrich our lives and raise much needed resources to support artistes, artisans and their families,” said Sanjoy K Roy, managing director, Teamwork Arts.
The more than five-hour-long star-studded evening will be hosted by actors Shabana Azmi and Manoj Bajpayee. Stand-up comedians Papa CJ, Radhika Vaz and Abish Mathew will add some comic relief to the proceedings, while poets Javed Akhtar and Varun Grover will present special spoken-word pieces. The idea behind the special performances is to raise awareness about how art and culture are necessary for a healthy society, especially in these difficult times. The concert, therefore, is not a ticketed one, but carries an appeal to donate funds to help the suffering artiste community.