Gag leaves music artistes with no source of income

Orchestra artistes in Madurai say just when they were gradually recovering from the losses of last year, the present ban has come.   | Photo Credit: R. Ashok

Under normal circumstances, light music orchestra groups used to perform in several temple festivals and other events from March to June. However, the restrictions imposed by the government, denying permission for temple festivals due to rising COVID-19 positive cases, have robbed the orchestra musicians of their livelihood this year and left many in penury.

P. Ayyanar, district deputy president of Medai Mellisai Mattrum Thozilnutpa Kalaignargal Sangam, says that for the hundreds of orchestra musicians across the State, temple festivals and weddings are the main sources of income. The musicians earn a decent income from March to June and this money sees them through the rest of the year.

However, for the last three years, the orchestras have not earned much during this peak season, says Mr. Ayyanar. In 2019, parliamentary elections were conducted and orchestras were denied permission to perform in public places. In 2020, the artistes were unable to perform due to the COVID-19 lockdown. “This year, the government has put in restrictions since April 10 and performing in temple festivals has been banned,” he says.

The move has financially affected the musicians, says R. Palanikumar, a singer. “It was only in the last few months that we had few offers which helped us gradually recover from the losses of last year,” he says.

Bookings cancelled

Apart from temple festivals, the restriction on permitting only 100 participants in weddings, has also affected the orchestra groups, says J.B. Vijay, president of Tamil Nadu Medai Mellisai Kalaignargal Sangam. “Many clients who had paid money in advance to perform in weddings have cancelled their bookings,” he says.

Mr. Ayyanar says that unlike other artistes, there is no dedicated welfare board for light music orchestra groups. “Despite repeated requests, the government has not even bothered to have a count of the number of orchestra musicians in the State,” he says. “The government should give us monetary assistance to help us tide over the present crisis,” Mr. Ayyanar says.

The orchestra groups must be allowed to perform in public places by adhering to COVID-19 safety precautions, says Mr. Vijay.

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Printable version | May 11, 2021 4:12:46 PM |

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