From ‘parai aattam’ to ‘thol paavai koothu’ — this online arts festival focusses on artforms that are outside the digital economy

P Thilagavathi amid a ‘kattaikoothu’ performance

P Thilagavathi amid a ‘kattaikoothu’ performance   | Photo Credit: special arrangement

The funds raised are directed towards artiste communities that are left in the lurch following the lockdown

Performers draw energy from their audiences. Packed halls and thunderous applause are all part of the show — this experience trumps any online intervention. And this is exactly what performing artistes around the globe are missing dearly.

With the COVID-19 lockdown enforcing the closure of performance venues and restrictions in gathering, performing artiste communities are left in the lurch. Communities of folk artistes that solely depend on temple festivals and commissioned programmes are finding it especially hard to cope.

Sumanasa Foundation’s Online Performing Arts Festival that will commence this week, directs all its energies to such art forms that are still outside the digital economy.

Shweta Prachande, a Bharatanatyam artiste who is also one of the curators, says, “It all started with the #ShutIn Concert, an initiative by TM Krishna. We at Sumanasa Foundation were looking at artistes whose livelihoods were in question. There were many who would travel district to district performing. Since that was stopped, there was no income for them at all. Sustaining them through the lockdown period was the initial idea, but from then it has grown.”

In the line-up
  • June 10:
  • Parai isai and paadal by Manimaran and Magizhini
  • Neiyyandi by Ganeshan Melam
  • Bharatanatyam by Saneesh, Saranmohan and Vanitha
  • Padhakam by Narayanan Nambiar
  • Kattaikoothu by P Thilagavathi and group
  • June 11:
  • Bommalattam by M Somasundaram and group
  • Vellai Mozhi by A Revathi
  • Jogappas by Lakshman and Rakhi
  • Oyilattam by Deepan and group
  • June 12:
  • Karagattam by J Jayakumar and group
  • Yakshagana by Shivanada Hedge and group
  • Silambam by Manikandan and group
  • Nadaswaram by N Venkatesan and K Muruganandam
  • There are sessions on June 13 and 14 as well. Visit for details on how to contribute.

In a bid to address all these concerns, the festival was curated with art forms that don’t have a huge presence in the digital space. “It doesn’t matter where the art form is geographically and demographically placed. Every form requires the same amount of commitment to nurture. We wanted to reinforce the idea that one should feel a responsibility to these forms that are so intrinsically woven in the cultural fabric,” continues Shweta.

This is why the festival will be available for viewing to only those who have made a contribution to the crowdfunding campaign — which goes towards supporting the performing artistes. The registration link will be provided on donation. It is similar to buying a ticket to watch a performance.

“The lockdown comes at a time when a lot of temple festivals would happen, regionally. For the artistes, it’s a double-whammy,” says Varisha Narayanan, also a curator and a Bharatanatyam artiste. Apart from the monetary constraints, they are also not able to do what they love the most, she adds.

Pre-recorded videos of performances are strung together which can be viewed on specific dates — with four or five performances a day. The subject and the content is of primary focus — the artistes’ eagerness to perform again, helped them overcome the technical challenges they might have had, adds Varisha. The festival, through its line-up, also diversifies the content that is available online.

“But this line-up is definitely not exhaustive at all. We are definitely trying to include as many art forms as possible,” says Shweta.

The foundation, as per an update on May 30, has managed to disburse ₹45,45,900 as funds to support 1,390 artistes, with help from 802 donors. But the duo says that they have barely scratched the surface.

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Printable version | Jul 11, 2020 3:05:28 PM |

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