• Thursday, Oct 22, 2020
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Covid-19 fallout: Marginal artistes battling existential crisis

  • Published at 05:02 pm September 2nd, 2020
Bauls
File photo: Ambassador and Head of Delegation of the European Union (EU) to Bangladesh hosted an event featuring Lalon music to spread Lalon Shah's songs across the world Courtesy

A great number of marginal artistes of the country, particularly the potters and the musical-instrument makers, are being forced to change their jobs amid the Covid-19 pandemic

Sexagenarian Sukhesh Sardar of Mahadevpur village in Naogaon district took an avid interest in Jatra (folk-theatre) in his childhood. Later, he was inspired to take on the art form as his full-time profession.

However, the coronavirus pandemic is something he could not foresee dealing a severe blow to his career and livelihood.

Sharing the same awful fate, a total of 36 artistes working with the Rupasree Jatra are all struggling to make ends meet.

A great number of marginal artistes of the country, particularly the potters and the musical-instrument makers, are being forced to change their jobs amid the Covid-19 pandemic, according to a survey conducted by a non-government organization Bangladesh Institute of Theatre Arts (BITA).

BITA conducted the survey on 257 artistes in 47 districts and 43 representatives in different government and private organizations associated with cultural activities.  The survey spanned over June, July, and August of this year.

While presenting the findings of the survey at a virtual press conference on Monday, BITA Executive Director Shishir Dutt said that the marginal artistes are living in dire conditions as they have not been part of any financial support from the government during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Out of all the folk artistes questioned, 20.97% of them have considered changing their professions as their monthly income fell by 91.77%.

Before the onslaught of the novel coronavirus, the average monthly income of 62 folk artistes was Tk12,048. However, the average plummeted to Tk991 during Covid-19 pandemic.

Likewise, the monthly income of the potters declined by 94.27%.

The income of the idol-makers has fallen by 97.68% while the income of the household utensil makers and the craftsmen has dwindled by 83.58%.

Potters were supposed to have brisk business during Pahela Baishakh. But they are now in a tight spot as a huge quantity of pottery items have remained unsold, the survey report mentioned.

Out of all the musical instrument makers, 60.87% respondents said that their descendants are not interested in holding onto the profession of their forefathers.

Moreover, 56.5% professional musical-instrument players have said that they did not receive any financial help from government or non-government organizations during Covid-19 pandemic.

The survey report also placed a set of recommendations for the betterment of the artistes.

They include recognizing all non-institutional artistes including potters, musical-instrument makers, folk artistes, and musical instrument players as artistes and preparing a database.

Other recommendations include giving annual stimulus to all the artistes of the database based on their merit, rehabilitating the artistes after assessing the losses incurred during Covid-19 pandemic, revising the honorarium structure of the artistes on the TV and radio channels, and giving interest-free loan for the welfare of the potters.

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