Music Academy debars seven musicians this season, post #MeToo

The Madras Music Academy has debarred seven musicians, including Chitraveena N. Ravikiran, a recipient of the Sangita Kalanidhi award of the institution, from the list of performers this December season, in the wake of alleged sexual harassment complaints against them.

The other musicians are vocalist O.S. Thyagarajan, violinist Nagai Sriram and mridhangam players Mannargudi A. Eswaran, Srimushnam V. Rajarao, R. Ramesh and Thiruvarur Vaidhyanathan.

“We cannot keep quiet and be oblivious to what is happening around us. The women, who have gone through alleged sexual harassment and trauma over the years, thanks to the #MeToo movement, have gained voice to articulate their traumatic experience,” said N. Murali, president of the Academy.

He said as part of this movement, many Carnatic musicians had been called out on social media and the #MeToo exposés were widely circulated.

Nuanced approach

Pointing out that the Music Academy had not gone about it wildly, but had taken a nuanced approach, Mr. Murali said just naming a person was not sufficient ground for the Music Academy to take action.

The Music Academy had applied some objective criteria to make sense of all of this, especially in the face of denials.

“The expose contains a detailed description of an incident of alleged sexual harassment, often physical in nature. Normally, there is more than one alleged incident that comes out. The alleged incident is of a serious nature. After the allegations surfaced, we spoke to some unbiased persons in the field by way of validation,” he explained.

Mr. Murali said the Academy had also taken this stand as a measure of solidarity and sympathy with all the victims and the #MeToo movement. He, however, added that “these are allegations and we are not judging them guilty.”

“We have the right to feature any musician or not in our festival and we have exercised our right. This action is also to uphold the reputation and credibility of the Music Academy, which is the pre-eminent 90-year-old institution,” he said.

“We hope this will act as deterrent for all such future acts. I also hope that other music organisations will take an appropriate decision from the lead given by us,” he added.

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Printable version | Feb 17, 2020 11:42:26 AM |

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