Visual artists in Bihar have requested the National Academy of Arts in Delhi, known as Lalit Kala Akademi, to launch a welfare program to help them survive the financial impact of the Covid-19 pandemic. They also demanded greater inclusion in exhibitions and art camps held nationally by the academy to revive their profits, which have dried up since March last year, when restrictions on cultural events and exhibitions were first introduced to contain the outbreak of the pandemic. The artists had earlier also approached the Bihar government for financial assistance.
Bihar has a large community of visual artists, including painters, sculptors and installation makers, besides artisans, including internationally renowned Mithila and Manjusha art and Sikki craft. It is also home to contemporary art geniuses like Subodh Gupta, an installation artist.
“Since most of these artists and artisans are dependent on exhibitions, shows, art camps and workshops, now they are in trouble. None of these activities have taken place in the last 17 months due to the pandemic and subsequent lockdown. We want Central Lalit Kala Akademi to start a welfare program for us,” Padmashree awardee Shyam Sharma, a print artist from Bihar, said.
Birendra Kumar Singh, an artist and secretary of the Bihar Kala Manch, said the visual artists had given a memorandum to the state government last month, demanding a monthly pension, among other assistance. “Bihar Chief Secretary Tripurari Sharan assured us of all possible help but it was still awaited. That is why we have to knock on the doors of Central Lalit Kala Akademi,” said Singh.
Uttam Pacharne, vice-chairman of Delhi’s Lalit Kala Akademi, said the institution would plan social programmes. “But we are waiting for the artists from the state to send proposals in this regard.”
“The organization of a National Art Camp in the capital is also planned [Patna]. Delhi Lalit Kala Akademi has its camp office in the city and the event was planned there. A total of 30% artistes in the camp will be from the state and the rest will be from other districts. This will provide good financial support and exposure to a wide variety of art styles,” he said.