Tourism department ignores local artists, prefers foreigners and misrepresents Kashmiri culture – ‘Kashmir News Trust (KNT)
Kashmir News Trust [KNT]
Kashmir artists are speaking out against the government for not providing them with job opportunities. Artists say they are out of work due to the government’s indifferent policies.
The Kashmir Light Music Artists Association expressed resentment. The association includes senior and junior artists, singers and musicians who have been affiliated with the light music industry of Kashmir for decades.
For these local artists, DD Kashir and All India Radio Srinagar were the only sources of livelihood, but the prolonged halt to production work at these stations has driven them to despair. Also, these artists used to achieve their ends by performing in the programs/events held by various organizations such as J&K Academy of Art, Culture and Languages, Department of Information and Public Relations, and Department of Tourism.
However, following the repeal of the special status of Jammu and Kashmir and subsequently the emergence of the Covid 19 situation, these artists have been deprived of their jobs and are struggling to find work.
Although some programs are organized by the current UT government and other organizations, local artists hardly benefit from them. Artists have alleged discrimination against local talent and accused outside artists of remaining the main beneficiaries of these events, who collect huge fees amounting to hundreds of thousands of euros while local artists receive peanuts.
“The tourism department has organized several events and brought in artists from outside and a lot of money has been committed to these programs. It seems that the tourism department has kept its resources for the provision of outside artists and some blue-eyed local artists who are booked for almost all events,” said Kaiser Nizami.
“What is more concerning is that favoritism and nepotism have tainted the Department of Tourism where some selected event organizers are involved in organizing cultural events,” he said.
These organizers bring young poorly paid artists to perform in these events and on the other hand extract a huge amount of bills from the Department.
Local artists have also accused of misrepresentations of Kashmiri culture in many of these events. Recently, a Sufi festival was organized by the UT government and there was no Kashmir Sufi music performance at the event.
“We have our unique style of Sufi music and it can only be showcased and promoted by local artists. Bringing artists from outside to perform on behalf of Sufis and other cultural events is a parody of our culture,” said fellow artist Aijaz Sahir.
These local performers, especially the musicians, have expressed their anguish that the government’s callousness has pushed them to the wall and they are struggling to survive.
The artists requested the intervention of LG to solve their problems and urged the government to develop a policy of engagement and promotion of local musicians/artists and to safeguard their right to work, to give priority to local artists in the programs/events organized by UT-level government organizations, take over production work at local radio and TV stations to allow these artists to work with dignity, improve fee structure, and involve local artists to the significant promotion and dissemination of our Kashmiri culture.
These artists, while expressing their concerns, expressed the hope that Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha would reflect on their real issues and resolve them for the benefit of the fraternity of artists. (KNT)