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Folk Art as Livelihood
Culture is a great enabler. It fosters social inclusion. We use culture both as a product and as a process. Culture is innovatively used for skill empowerment at grass roots level to build micro enterprise. Cultural traditions are revitalized through training, exposure and promotion. New markets are created and new brands are developed to promote traditional performing and visual arts. Culture thus offers new options for livelihood. Our motto is “To preserve art, let the artists survive”.
  • 1 Art Exhibitions
  • 2 Art for social change
  • 3 Creating identity for heritage traditions
  • 4 Developing Folk Tourism
  • 5 Training Programmes
  • 6 Folk artists perform at a programme on Climate Change
  • 7 Folk for the Urban
  • 8 Innovative Designs
  • 9 Pater Gan
  • 10 Preserving Traditional Skills
Specialised training and workshops organized for fine tuning of skills:
Specialised training programs have been organized to fine tune skills, provide new inputs and facilitate innovation and transformation for improved marketability.
Chau

• Developing compact productions of 15-30 minutes duration
• Developing costumes and masks of lower cost
• Reviving lost dance styles and movements
• Training the dancers to perform on stage
• Developing productions based on works of Tagore & Shakespeare.
• Training to hold campaigns on Education for all, Consumer Rights and Reproductive health.


Gambhira & Domni

Workshops were held with the groups to develop productions on social issues
• Health and nutrition
• Sanitation
• Prevention of early marriage
• HIV/AIDS
• Consumer Rights
• Education for all
Jhumur

• Training in developing dance productions for Nachnis and other Jhumur dancers
• Training in use of mike
• Training in recording songs in a studio


Baul & Fakiri

• Training in use of mike
• Training in making performances for video CD
• Training in recording songs in a studio
• Training to hold campaigns on Pulse Polio Immunisation
• Training to perform with different categories and styles of vocal and instrumental music

Patachitra

• Training in painting on diverse media
• Training in spoken English
• Training in design
• Training in product pricing
• Training in campaigning on consumer rights
• Exposure to new media
• Training on framing

 Using folk art as a communication tool

Folk art is an excellent communication tool for community education on social and developmental issues.

  1. Folk artists of all six folk forms have been trained on various social issues like reproductive health, HIV/AIDS, sanitation, sending children to school, immunisation etc.

  2. The block administrations and Panchayats have used the groups for various campaigns. Domni team at Manikchak in Malda successfully turned their GP into a Nirmal Gram Panchayat.

  3. The folk artists have done social campaigns on consumer rights, women’s health and nutrition, HIV/AIDS, impact of climate change, child marriage, sanitation and Sarva Shikshya Abhijaan.

Documenting Oral Traditions

A film on Patachitra
Audio CD of Baul songs
Compilation of Baul songs
Documentary film on Jhumur
Compilation of Jhumur Songs
Documenting the Cultural Heritage of Purulia
 
Promotional brochures on various Folk Forms
Lokjan
 
Cultural events, fairs and festivals have been the main platform for launching and promoting the folk art forms.
A woman Baul singer
Baul Mela
Baul performance
Baul singers at Bhasha Divas
Bauls and  International mother's Language dayFakir s at Bauls at Basanta Utsav
Gambhira performance by legendary Biaml gupta
Jazz Group Kendraka with Golam Fakir
Jhumur Dance at Sankskriti Parichay
Jhumur Dance at Spring Festival
Jhumur Dancers perform at a folk festival in Purulia
Jhumur Singers at Basnata Utsav
POTential exhibition  at ICCR, 2009
Saras mela
Slide28
Slide38 Tanmoy Bose and Anuseh Anadel jamming with the Bauls at Sahaj Mantra Legendary Gambhira artist Bimal Gupta at Sanskriti Parichay
Background

 During  2005,when the project commenced  it was found that the folk artists are extremely poor with majority living below the poverty line. They had little scope for performing and practising their art forms and hardly earned from performance. The project facilitated  extensive training under leading Folk Gurus and contemporary artists,  development of  innovative productions on new themes and wide spread promotion in the region. 3200 artists from six districts in West Bengal formed 233 self help groups, were linked to banks under a Government  scheme promoting micro enterprise and micro finance and started saving regularly in their bank accounts. they have started earning from their art forms and most have double or triple monthly income -from an average of INR (Indian Rupee) 500-1000 to INR 1500-2000 per month.

The folk artists are not yet professional but there has been a paradigm shift in their identity –from daily laboureres, hawkers and rickshaw pullers to that of an artist in their community.

  International exchange

o “POTential , An effort to explore” was a unique and innovative interdisciplinary art initiative undertaken in January,2009. POTential created a platform for exchange, assimilation and innovation between traditional folk painters of Bengal and contemporary new media artists from UK. The folk artists learnt the use of video and photography and were empowered with confidence and ability to further develop and revitalize the folk forms.

o Jazzmin a group from US visited Gourbhanga and conducted a workshop with the Fakiri artists.

Jazzmin with Baul artists in Gourbhanga.  New Media Artists from UK interact with Patuas in POTential

Success today

1. Change in Social Status

• Improved socio-economic status has truly empowered the folk artists. They are now more united and are overcoming conflicts related to caste divisions.
• There is less atrocities to these people belonging to the lowest echelons of the society. Overall quality of life has also improved.
• The women artists are enjoying a new freedom as they travel across the country and earn from singing, dancing and painting.

2. New Avenues, new opportunities

• The strategy of dovetailing with SGSY scheme has helped in accessing available supporting structures (viz. PRI institutions, DRDA, banks etc.) for strengthening rural enterprise.
• Induction of new promoters and patrons for promotion of folk art. Musicians, film makers, music directors, clubs, bookstores, tourism service providers, recording companies, theatre directors, radio and television channels, print media are contributing in diverse ways in promotion and propagation of the art forms.
• The art forms have been revived and rejuvenated through the efforts of master folk artists and leading contemporary artists.
• Around 600 folk singers have learned to use mike and record songs in a studio. Improved skills have led to increased popularity and local demand.
• New stakeholders are supporting the folk artists in becoming cultural entrepreneurs. Panchayats have provided space to conduct training programmes..
• Voluntary organizations have come forward to support development of local resource centers. Musicians, researchers, film directors, event organizers, tourism stakeholders are working to create new promotional avenues for the folk artists.
• GOs and NGOs are using folk art for social communication on developmental issues.
• In 2008 – 09, workshops have been organized by different art promoters. Tanmoy Bose has organized five workshops with the Baul and Fakiri singers and have performed in various places. In 2008-09, the artists had a big boost as per program is concerned and have performed in almost 400 fairs and festivals. The Patachitra artists have learned to do social campaign on consumer activism.
• Folk festival Sanskriti Parichay, were organized in 10 districts of West Bengal resulting in improved awareness and opening up of new income opportunities.

3. Creating new brand or identity for heritage traditions

• Innovating new products imbibing modern trends while safeguarding heritage aspects and using modern technologies like internet for dissemination has been one highlighting factor. Chau masks and costumes have been innovated for reducing cost of productions and workshops with mask makers of Charida and local tailors who make the Chau masks has also been effective

• The Chau dancers and contemporary musicians and theatre specialists worked together to innovate new Chau productions .Today Chau dancers are performing Tagore’s dance dramas Chitrangada and Kalmrigaya Katha, and even a production based on Shakespeare’s Macbeth. . Ghatotkach Sambhava was developed by Bhuban Kumar’s group of Bamnia, .Sukumar Ray’s ‘Lakshaner Shaktishel’ another production was developed .

• Contemporary artists and designers have worked with Patachitra artists to develop new products. Patachitra was skillfully used to make utility and decorative items like calendars, diaries, greeting cards, coasters, bags wall décor, lamp shades, T-shirts, Sarees, stoles, tie, Dupatta, paper Mache products, leather products, wrought iron products etc.

• The products have found their way to international markets. Partnerships have been developed with craft retailers like SASHA. The paintings of Patua from Pingla are adorning underground railway stations at Delhi.

• Bauls and Fakirs who had hardly any invitation to perform in Kolkata are now performing at London.

• Chau artists are doing campaigns on social awareness. Domni artists are helping their Panchayat to achieve Nirmal GP award. Gambhira artists are playing a role in stopping child marriage. Jhumur dancers are traveling beyond their village to neighbouring states.

Ethnomagic Going Global

As a continuation of our journey towards providing sustainable livelihood opportunities for the folk artists and artisans a 2 year long project namely Ethno Magic Going Global (EGG) got initiated in December 2009.


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