ISLAMABAD: It goes without saying that no matter who or which political party is in power little or nothing is done to help the artistes’ community in the country.
It would not be an exaggeration to say that the community is the most neglected segment of society and governements do not offer patronage or facilities to boost the interests of artistes.
It is therefore no wonder that the artistes’ community in the twin cities of Rawalpindi and Islamabad is once again pinning its hopes on political parties to take solid steps for their welfare after assuming power through the upcoming elections in the country, despite the fact there is less emphasis on the artistes’ welfare in their party manifestoes.
Although the previous government in power had taken many initiatives including formulating new cultural policy, forming a committee for the welfare of artists and establishing an endowment fund for their uplift but none of these commitments saw the light of day. “Many artistes of the entertainment industry have died during the last few years after prolonged illness due to their inability to afford medical expenses and lack of attention by the concerned authorities. Many forms of arts are still considered as just a source of fun and not recognised as proper fields,”said a Rawalpindi-based instrumental musician, Salman Adil.
He said, “We spend our day and night to entertain the audience without any patronage from the government. Those who are contributing in other fields of life are getting medical coverage, insurance, allowances and many other incentives but art is still not recognised as a proper profession in our country”.
Laila Jatti an emerging Islamabad-based folk singer said, former President, Pervez Musharraf was the only person who being a patron of arts and culture took many steps for the welfare of artistes including establishing Pakistan National Council of the Arts (PNCA). Other political figures during the previous governments have done nothing substantial.
“It is a matter of immense grief that our drama artistes who have made a great contribution to arts and culture are found begging on the roads due to sheer frustration from abject poverty,while some have also sold their awards and medals to meet their living expenses”, she lamented.
The government only gives Pride of Performance award to the artistes and think its responsibility is fulfilled, she said.
She said the artistes should also be given pension after retirement like government employees so that they can live their life with dignity when their health deteriorates and they do not get work.
The TV channels invite the singers and musicians in their shows for performance and do not pay them saying, “This will give you promotion in your career”. At least state-run channels must pay the artistes for inviting them to the shows.
Jatti also urged the concerned authorities to establish a proper institution or platform for those artistes who are remarkably talented but unable to come forward due to lack of resources so that their self-respect is not compromised.
“Promotion of good creative art reflects strengthened democratic values of any country. Artists play crucial role in paving the ways for progressive thinking and enlightenment”, Wasil Shahid, an emerging and talented Islambad-based calligrapher said.
“If any state neglects the contribution of artistes toward the betterment of society, it actually hinders the process of progressive thinking and developing a peaceful nation. I cannot term such politics as democratic politics which addresses only material needs of a society, avoiding their development at civilisational and cultural level”, he observed.
Shahid was of the view that the conflict between democratic values and dictating behaviours in our country has confused our nation and promotion of art can help eliminate intolerance from the society.
The manifestos of all the political parties have not dwelt on the welfare of artistes but still the major parties have mentioned steps for their uplift at the end of their manifestos.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 13th, 2018.