No support for artists?

I have been talking about this for quite some time now. There is absolutely no support infrastructure for budding artists and companies. If an artist wants to put up a show, the biggest challenge they face is to gather an audience. They can somehow manage to find a space to rehearse, other artists to collaborate with and look after other logistics. But what does one do when it comes to attracting audiences who would be interested in consuming their art? There is of course the most obvious issue – the social one. We in India, simply don’t have a culture where audiences are interested in paying for art (of any kind) Our mindset is still stuck at… arts mein kya rakha hai. Engineering karo. Mind you, there is a huge difference between arts and entertainment. Unfortunately in our country the two are always used interchangeably. We simply do not think that dance, theatre and/or any kind of performing arts is worthy of our money. We would rather pay to watch Bigg Boss on television.

It will take a lot of time for this kind of mentality to change. It requires a revolution. Some people are constantly making efforts to change it, and will continue to do so. However there are certain other issues too that contribute to the lack of development or betterment of our Industry – one of them being lack of support from the corporate sector. A platform like BookMyShow, that holds monopoly over ticketing, offers absolutely no support to small outfits who are trying to organize events independently. We recently organized our event, and decided to tie up with BMS for ticketing because of their huge market. Obviously, we agreed to their terms in regard to the commission. But it doesn’t end there. They also charge a “convenience fee” or “Internet handling” fee which is to be paid by the end user during the booking process. Basically, they earn revenue from the organizer as well as the customer. Now, as per the information released by RBI (thanks to an RTI filed by Vijay Gopal), this internet handling fees is, infact, not legal (falls in the grey areas) and is in violation of MDR regulations. This charge needs to be paid by the merchant to the bank, and not the user (Trust me, as a business we pay it too) but organizations like BookMyShow make the users pay it.

This aside, we also wanted to do some extra marketing in collaboration with them – for which they said their minimum package was for Rs. 25,000 – in which they would merely promote a facebook post and it would run until the budget exhausts. No featured posts. No mention in the newsletter. I respectfully declined because, quite frankly, we just didn’t have the money and running a promotional campaign on facebook is something we could have done ourselves too.

Basically, (a) their additional charges are a deterrent for audiences to come watch live shows, (b) organizers think a hundred times before buying their promotional packages because they’re so damn expensive and (c) organizers also have to pay them a share of the ticket sales revenue as commission. Oh, and if its a free event, you have to pay them a fixed amount per seat because they don’t host events for free on their website.

All in all, not a very good deal for smaller outfits. Profit to door ki baat hai, aise toh costs bhi cover nahi hongi. And absolutely NO guarantee that a minimum number of tickets will definitely be sold. You could do all this and still be performing in an empty auditorium.

Other big corporate houses do have CSR, but they only offer their schemes to NGOs or companies, not to individuals. Its very difficult then, as an individual, to get any kind of support from these organizations for any venture. So many artists in our country are suffering everyday, working for a measly amount of Rs. 1200 for a 12-hour shoot. They end up scrounging for work in places they don’t want to – wedding choreographies, corporate events, school events, ad shoots etc. Some of these dancers are extremely well-trained and have invested years in their training. Yet, they end up struggling for a very long time.

What we need is a massive overhaul in the overall social outlook and corporate social responsibility. We need more support from the government and society as a whole to flourish. Performing arts is in India’s fabric, let’s not let it die.

Skeletons in the closet

We all have our demons that we battle with, every single day. This battle takes away a fair share of energy and mental peace. We live in times where it seems everyone is at unrest. Everyone is struggling with too many things humanely possible to handle. But somehow we do. Every single day.

I have been dealing with anxiety since I was a kid, been taking medication for almost 8 years now. I was also recently diagnosed with Borderline personality disorder – an illness that is debilitating and draining at the same time. Needless to say, I live with a lot of weight on my chest every single day. This weight doesn’t just come from my illness and anxiety though – it comes from certain bad decisions that have stayed with me like ghosts under my pillow. Their shadow follows me around everywhere, never letting me forget the error of my ways.

Certain situations become so messy and complicated that they render your ability to differentiate between right and wrong completely useless. You feel numb, almost like an inanimate item being flung around without truly understanding what’s happening. It’s only once the dust settles that you realize what the storm destroyed in it’s wake. What can you do then? Besides looking around and lamenting at the fact that things went wrong? How do you undo a bad decision?

This is very hard to write about, but I need to start acknowledging what has happened so that I can find ways to overcome it. Also because – hiding and living under a rock does no good when you’re trying to deal with the ramifications of something. It’s best to face your fears, actions (good or bad), feelings and thoughts head on. Fearing them will only make the burden worse.

It’s hard living with this burden. After years of mulling over it and thinking about what to do, I finally decided to do something to undo that bad decision. Will it work? I don’t know. I am not sure. But I will go to bed every night knowing that I tried to retrace my steps and fix it. If there is a silver lining, it it this – I don’t stop fighting for the right thing until the right thing is done. It has been long overdue. If I want to shed some of the weight off my chest, I will have to make sure the right thing is done.

I will keep trying.

Time to read more recipes

I already have a blog on blogger but I’m by and large bored of it. I feel totally uninspired to write anything there and I feel guilty for letting it rot like a peel of an old banana. Yesterday, I was trying to upload a new image to my mom’s blog, but it kept giving me an error: Unable to create directory uploads. Is the parent directory writable by the server? and I didn’t have a galleon’s worth of knowledge about that. I tried to figure it out but ended up getting frustrated with wordpress.org. Then I realized that wordpress.com is a much better option if you’re not as tech savvy as I am. (If someone has a solution then I’d be happy to read it. Thanks)

So I made this blog just for fun and I’m writing this post out of pure boredom. I’ve been watching a lot of recipe videos lately and I must say that I’ve started acknowledging myself as an amateur chef (and I claim to be the best chef in the world infront of my best friend) But yes, I’ve realized that there definitely is joy in baking. It makes you feel liberated and empowered, in some inexplicable way. Thanks to Stephanie Jowarski from joyofbaking.com, who has some very useful and interesting tips to share on the art of baking, chances that I’m going to end up baking a pan of goo instead of a cake are quite less.

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I subscribed to a lot of other amazing bakers and chefs on youtube. Everyone had a different way of doing the same thing, and it’s amazing how everything about food can be changed and molded according to one’s personal tastes. No other science or art offers that kind of liberty. Yes, not even physics, which used to be my obsession at one point of time.

After educating myself in the nuances of the art of cooking, I ventured into this magical field of creation and invention myself. When I made my first ever pizza (along with the dough), I was stupid enough to not bake the dough first, so my pizza ended up raw on the upper side. I tried to make amends but what was done was done. I didn’t want to feel like a loser so I ate half of it and kept the other half for the street dogs. Trust me, it tasted good. But at the same time I ate it at my own risk, because it could potentially give me a terrible stomach ache and some other undesirable problems too.

Anyway, the next time I made it I kept that in mind and it turned out to be pretty awesome. My second experiment was a success and I didn’t have to go through the dreadful phase of feeling like a loser. I made baked vegetables with cheese. My cousin and I gulped it down in seconds. Butter makes everything taste perfect. What an invention.

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After that I also made chocolate ganache, caramel sauce and peanut butter frosting. Thankfully they all turned out to be good except the fact that my caramel sauce was slightly (minuscule) bitter. My sugar is usually the correct shade of amber before I add my cream, I have no idea how it gets burnt. Perhaps I need to start using a non-stick pan.

On a random note, I’ve also been watching a lot of random bollywood dance videos of random people on Youtube. It’s escapism in it’s purest form. Sangeet videos, farewell videos, shaadi videos, engagement videos, baby shower videos, birthday videos bla bla bla. The best part is you can have a blast and then leave a really harsh comment (LOLWA) I know I should probably be watching ballet and contemporary videos, but hell, it’s hard to resist entertainment of this degree. Govinda dance videos used to be my favorite a couple of years back (Husn hai suhana anyone?)

But now, these random videos are my favorite hands down. Try this:

Finally, now that my wretched exams are over, it’s time to start trolling in the kitchen again and try something different. I want to try Shahi Paneer with Kaju gravy and Badaam ki Phirni next time. Let’s see how that turns out.