Producers Of Different Art Forms Share Their Thoughts On Producing Art In Times Of Pandemic

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Sourabh Zunjar

Pune, 8 October, 2020: No matter what form of the art it is or when and where you are producing the art, Content is always the King!

This was a common thought shared by about six different producers from the field of dance, music, theatre, and classical music from across India. All these producers shared their thoughts on producing art in general especially in the trying times of the pandemic in live sessions organized by Parichaya, a non-profit initiative by two young dancers – Anagha Harkare and Shruti Ranade – from Pune.

Anagha and Shruti curated all these live sessions with the producers from different fields of art. Explaining the idea behind the concept of live sessions with producers Anagha told The Federal, “We always appreciate different art forms and artists but we never acknowledge the work of the producers who put in all the efforts to build a program right from the beginning till the end of the program. So this is our small effort to celebrate the work of all the producers and tell their stories to the people.”

In the first session, Prasad Kambli of Bhadrakli Productions which produces theatre plays shared his thoughts. He said that the script selection isn’t about any formula or recipe. “It’s all about perception. What I like to read, listen, and watch is what I chose irrespective of the times.”

When asked about producing a play in the times of pandemic Kambli said, “Content has to be the best irrespective of times. So that would be the basic criteria even today. Apart from that, all the backstage precautions will have to be taken care of and more importantly, we have a bigger responsibility today as artists because the audience is going to take up the risk of coming out of their homes to watch a play. So we will have to give them the best.”

Like it has always happened in the Marathi theatre fraternity, he thinks that these times will also result in the emergence of some path-breaking content or production technique. “Just that we have to be positive even during the crisis!” he added. He also mentioned that one may try open theatre citing the circumstances.

“We are quite positive about the coming days, but still, we need a proper framework for operating. Also, there should be funding from the government. This is a critical issue and needs to be answered,” said Kambli while pointing towards the safety concerns as well as monetary terms.

Keerthana Ravi of Rasbuddhi Arts Foundation has been organizing dance festivals in Mumbai for years. She was the first artist to start a crowd-funded classical dance festival in India back in 2015.
When asked about today’s art landscape, she said, “The competition isn’t between the arts or artists. We are now competing with OTT platforms like Netflix and Amazon Prime. Along with that, even the food ordering apps like Swiggy and Zomato are our competitors.” She further added, “Because people would now order food at home rather than going out to watch a performance as well as to eat outside. We have to consider these factors.”

Keerthana also stressed that maintaining a good relationship with the people (artists as well as audiences) plays a really important role in achieving success in the long run.

Usha RK, the director of Jawaharlal Nehru Culture Centre in Moscow was also one of the speakers of the series. She talked about the funding aspect of the productions. She said, “Before applying for grants or making applications for government schemes, one must look at what is available there for them. There are dedicated funds for arts in both government and private sector as well.”

She also mentioned that today due to the current situation there may not be funds but usually, they are available for the artists.

When asked about creating the monetary influx in the field of arts she answered, “One must look at it like starting a small shop. You won’t get business from day one. You will have to take efforts for people to know you and then after a year or two, you will have a fixed customer base. Similarly, you can’t master the art in a matter of days. You have to take a lot of effort. It is a mix and match and a balance of various aspects.”

Kushal Khot who manages the Wide Wings Media, a production house based in Pune shared his experience of successfully organizing paid online events even during the lockdown. He said, “We truly believe in live performances inside the auditorium. But for time being we took it to the online platform during the pandemic. Thus, we stared Online Maza Theatre (OMT).”

He further explained, “We chose 20 well known Marathi artists for OMT and divided them into four teams. Then we would give them a topic and they had to perform on Zoom live sessions. The thought was to keep theatre alive somewhere and at the same time it was an attempt to make the society accept this new medium of online performances.”

The activity was ticketed so as to keep the value of the art, he says. “We got tremendous response despite the ticketed event”, added Kushal.

Wide Wings Media has been organizing innovative programs like overnight theatre performances, mime-act competition, Mushaira as well as a few other initiatives for over five years in India as well as abroad.

Surendra Mohite who is associated with “Sa Va Ni” events asserted that his firm would be the first to organize a classical music concert post-pandemic. He said, “It is important to organize more and more concerts and give an opportunity to the new artists in the field.”

He thinks that classical music must be performed in front of a live audience only. “Because a response from the audience is a vital part of those performances,” says Surendra.

Another young producer trio – Anup, Ashwin, and Kapil – who organize classical concerts under the banner of Shuddhnaad said that Facebook, Instagram, etc are not appropriate mediums for art like classical music. They said, “We think that it is a compromise with the quality of the art form while doing it through social media live sessions. Thus, we chose to record videos and publish them on YouTube instead.”

“All these producers are trying their best to keep their art form alive and we were glad to host them. Big good luck to all of them from our side,” exclaimed Anagha.

The Instagram handle of Parichaya is @parichayapune