‘Our aim is to make artists realise the potential and talent within themselves'

What began as a tribute to young Angirus ‘Toto' Vellani — whose love for music, literature and cinema were an inspiration to all — Toto Funds the Arts (TFA) today helps identify and encourage young talent in the Arts.

After its founding in September 2004, the non-profit organisation has gone on to build the careers of struggling musicians, writers, poets, dramatists and photographers. Through various awards, plays, fests and readings, the TFA helps youth to express their love of the medium.

Naturally, the itinerary of the TFA is jam-packed in the coming months. “In July we have a creative writing (non-fiction) competition, along with plans of lending support to Neel Chaudhari, who won the Creative Writing Award in 2009, who will feature at Ranga Shankara,” says C.K. Meena, the chairperson of the fund. Come September, theatre and photography workshops will begin. The most awaited event is a three-day Bangalore Literature Festival that is scheduled on February 10, 11 and 12, 2012.

Meena says, “This festival will be held at the National Gallery of Modern Art. The theme is ‘City'; language will not be a bar as writers can choose any language they are comfortable with. We realise that the youngsters have to be given a push before they want to take initiative, so we have awards with prize money as high as Rs. 25,000 for writing and photography, while musicians get a chance to record an album with Counter Culture Records. The TFA awards even turned regional last year, with an award for Kannada Creative Writing. The TFA also has a Young Writers' Group which meets once a month to swap and test written material.

“Our aim is to make people realise they have the potential and talent within themselves. It is up to the person to work hard and move forward,” says Meena. True to its objective, the TFA has been a stepping stone for artists such as Lounge Piranha, the 2007 winners of the music category and the death metal band, Demonic Resurrection (2006). Some winners of the creative writing category have already been published . Mani Rao, poet and a translator of the Bhagwat Gita, poets Anindita Sengupta and Aditi Machado, playwrights Abhishek Majumdar and Neel Chaudhari and author Parvati Sharma are just some of the few. Photographers Zubin Pastakia and Siddharth Jain have also benefited from the fund.