Minister for School Education, Sports and Youth Welfare Vaigaichelvan stressed the need to preserve art forms that were fading into oblivion.

Speaking at a cultural festival organised at Aruppukottai on Friday night after distributing financial assistance to 16 aged and indigent artistes and awards to 10 performers, he said that the State government had allocated Rs.32 lakh to train artistes and Rs.64 lakh to buy dress materials and musical instruments for them during the last fiscal.

“The State government is committed to improving the living conditions of artistes. Today, 15 ‘karagattam’ artistes of Tirunelveli region comprising Virudhunagar, Tuticorin, Tirunelveli and Kanyakumari districts were given ‘karagam’ and other dance gear,” he said.

S.S. Jawahar, Principal Secretary and Commissioner, Department of Art and Culture, said that the government was giving a stipend of Rs.500 to students of music colleges and Rs.400 to music schools.

The monthly allowance for indigent artistes had been increased to Rs. 1,000 from Rs.500. There was a proposal to recruit 5,000 music teachers, he said.

The Commissioner expressed the hope that the four music colleges, two colleges of fine arts, a college of sculpture and architecture at Mahabalipuram and 17 government music schools functioning across the State would go a long way in preserving and promoting art and culture.

Government Music College Principal Veena Gayathri was present. District Revenue Officer Raju and R, Muthu, Deputy Director, Department of Art and Culture, among others, participated.