Coinciding with the State Foundation Day celebrations – Utkal Divas – on Friday, Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik launched a special scheme for promotion of the folk artistes of the State.

In a special ceremony held at Utkal Mandap open-air auditorium in the Capital in presence of more than 5,000 folk artistes coming from the 30 districts of the State, the Chief Minister announced formation of the district and block-level societies of arts and culture – Zilla Kala Samskruti Sangha and Block Kala Samskruti Sangha – that would help the folk artistes to earn livelihood through their performances. “Under the ICE (Information-Education-Communication) programmes being implemented across the State to make people aware of the development programmes, services of the folk artistes shall be utilised that would provide them livelihood while providing patronage to the folk arts,” Patnaik pointed out.

The Chief Minister further announced that annual gatherings of the folk artistes of the State shall be held every year on April 1 in the Capital. He also announced an additional number of 500 pensions for the artistes in diligent condition.

Elaborating details of the special scheme, Commissioner for Culture Ashok Kumar Tripathy informed that Ganjam District Collector V.K.Pandiyan had conceptualised and successfully implemented the pilot project in his district last year. “The Chief Minister desired the scheme to be replicated in the rest of the districts of the State”, he said and added that the government has made a provision of Rs.7.78 crore as revolving fund for the programme. Under the programme, each block shall receive Rs.2 lakh while each district shall be offered Rs.5 lakh, it was learnt.

Among others, Culture Minister D.P.Mishra, local MP P.Patsani, the three local legislators and City Mayor A.N.Jena also addressed the occasion. The launching ceremony was followed by performances by six folk dance troupes of the state representing Jodi Sankha, Gotipua, Sambalpuri, Durua, Chhau and Ghumura.