Pradeep Pattanayak

The Mukhyamantri Kalakar Sahayata Yojana selection process, which is underway in all the districts, hasn’t gone down well with the artistes. 

To be eligible to get Rs 1200 a month under the yojana, these artistes have to give an audition. The artistes said they have dedicated their whole life for the cause of art and never imagined that one day they would have to prove it that they are artistes. 

Monday, hundreds of artistes thronged at Garadpur block office in Kendrapara to give the test. However, they expressed their resentment over the selection process. 

“I am 65 years old. My performance may not be up to the mark due to my advancing age. I can’t do what I was doing 10 years back. So they (the selectors) should consider this and inform the government that they are eligible to receive the pension,” said  Prafulla Chandra Panda, an artiste. 

Echoing the same, another artiste Sunakar Nayak said, “I had given the audition last year. While those who sang worst than me were selected, I was rejected. This time I came once again to try my luck. However, I am not sure whether I will be selected or not.”

Informing about the guidelines, Garadpur BDO Dharmaranjan Panda said, “As per the guidelines, artistes of 50 years or above will be allowed to attend the audition.  On that basis, we have allowed these artistes. We have engaged experienced persons as our jury members to make the selection process transparent and fair.”

The Chief Minister had announced the yojana in 2018. The first criteria to become eligible for the pension the minimum age limits will be 50 and 40 for male and female applicants respectively. 

While a total of 50,000 artistes are to be included under the yojana, 35,000 have already been registered. For the rest 15,000 artistes, the test is being conducted.

When asked, Tourism and Culture Minister Ashwini Patra said, “He may either be a percussionist or an actor or a dancer, it is his inborn talent. Age is not a barrier. Even a 70-year-old artiste can perform his art.”

(Reported by Manoj Swain from Kendrapara, Maniklal Pani from Baripada and Kapilendra Pradhan from Bhubaneswar, OTV)