Kendrapara: The district Collectorate in Kendrapara turned into an open-air-stage with hundreds of folk artists of various art forms staging a rally voicing demand for fulfillment of livelihood support package for the community and stakeholders.
Curious audience relished the scene as artists staged live shows of their respective art form and virtually laid siege at the colletorate building yesterday forcing the authorities to step up security to avert untoward situation.
The protest by the artists of various age-groups was peaceful. It was a novel way of protest by the artists who sought disbursal of pension and incentives by the government.
Even the policemen who were on law and order duty relished skilful performance by folk artists, said Inspector Kendrapara Police Station, Sanjeev Mohanty.
“The state government has meted us a raw deal. The economically weak and aged artists are on the verge of starvation due to lack of governmental patronage. Folk art forms like Dassakathia, Sankirtan, Pala, Ghodanacha Gotipua nacha, Kendhei nacha Ramalila and other creative art forms would be reduced to oblivion as government is shying away from providing financial support” president of Zilla Kala Sanskruti Sangha, Mahanta Abhaya Charan Das, alleged.
“To protest against government apathy, we hit the streets and displayed our artistic attributes. A large crowd had turned up at the site and appreciated our open-air performance. We are hopeful that the government agencies would take note of our skill and redress our grievances”, he said.
A 66-year-old artist of Daskathia, a traditional form of storytelling, Natabar Behera said government had decided to provide Rs 1,000 monthly kalakar (artist) pension to male and female artists over 60 and 50 years of age respectively. I have applied for pension since past six years. But I am yet to be empanelled. Due to advancing age, I am unable to perform now regularly. I am landless without other source of income.
If the government does not help, I will starve to death.
A 75-year-old Pala artist, Gopabandhu Natha, said Government is insensitive towards traditional folk art players. After more than a decade of patient wait, I was provided with monthly kalakar pension last year. Hundreds of deserving, jobless and retired artists are languishing in penury. They deserve to get pension like me.
The administration is aware of artists plight. 908 folk artists have been registered by district administration.
Large numbers of them are eligible for monthly kalakar pension scheme. Their applications are under active consideration of the culture department. At present 58 elderly artists are being disbursed Rs 1,000 monthly pension. Next month, the administration would invite fresh applications from eligible artists for pension scheme, District Culture Officer, Dillip Kumar Nayak said.