The fifth edition of Chennai Sangamam will feature over 1,300 artists from all over the State, including about 800 folk artists. It will be held from January 12 to 17 and inaugurated by Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi.

Addressing a press conference here on Sunday, Kanimozhi, Member of Parliament and co-ordinator of the Tamil Maiyam, which organises the Sangamam along with the State Tourism and Culture Department, described the event as the biggest open-air festival of India. Over 50 types of folk arts would be performed.

A significant feature of this year's festival would be performances by the underprivileged children, children from slums, the differently abled and transgenders. The children would present folk dance programmes, whereas the orchestra by the visually challenged would perform the light musical. The transgender group would stage a play.

Documentary festival

It had also been planned to have a documentary festival. Unlike the previous years, the programmes would be open in other venues as well on the inaugural day itself. They would start at 5 p.m. and go on till 10 p.m. While food would continue to be a strong attraction, more than 100 poets, writers and speakers have been lined up for providing an experience of poetry and Tamil literature, she said.

Ilaya Bharathi of Tamil Nadu Iyal Isai Nadaga Manram said that the translation of Rabindranath Tagore's short stories, essays and poems in Tamil, running to 2,000 pages, would be released as a single compilation on the inaugural day as part of the State government's celebration of the 150{+t}{+h} birth anniversary of Rabindranath Tagore.

To a question, Tourism Minister Suresh Rajan said the government had been extending pension to the indigent folk artists.

A separate Welfare Board had been formed and so far 21,000 persons had been enrolled. “It was during the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam regime that their pension was raised from Rs.500 to 1,000 and it has so far benefited 8,000 artists. Besides, the artists have been extended assistance for marriage and education of their wards and also funeral expenses, in total amounting to Rs.62 lakh,” he added. Asked whether the Tamil Maiyam would be interested in extending such festivals to other parts of the State, Ms. Kanimozhi pointed out that a festival of this kind took place last year at Erode and Tirupur. This year, “Kumari Sangamam” would be held in Kanyakumari district and also a festival at Erode and Tirupur.

Asked about the budget for the current year, Jegath Gaspar Raj, founder of Tamil Maiyam, said it would be around Rs.4 crore, almost equal to last year.

To a question on the funding by the State government, Ms. Kanimozhi replied that the government, which paid only the folk artists, did not give any funds to Tamil Maiyam directly.

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Arts, Entertainment & EventsMay 14, 2012