Helmsmen tight-lipped as art collection continues to rot
Sanjeev K. Sharma
JAMMU, July 13: As the Academy of Art, Culture and Languages is suffering acute crisis by its prevailing poor work culture and the funds are not made available to set the house in order, a large portion of art pieces at this organization of art and culture continue to rot and the remaining too heading towards the same fate.
Apart from this, the artists associated with this institution are suffering an unprecedented misery due to financial crisis while the failed helmsmen at this organization of art and culture are pretending the business to be as usual and are maintaining a tight-lip policy but continue to draw hefty salaries for their performance failure for which none is there to check their accountability.
“Roof of the popular Abhinav Theatre at Academy has developed leaks at many places from which water tickles down into the hall especially during rainy days,” reliable sources informed.
This disclosure proved just a tip of the much bigger iceberg as insiders at the Academy revealed that its K.L Saigal Hall, where many functions like book release, poetry recitation etc are organized, has been declared unsafe by the concerned authorities.
With a much bigger disclosure, another source brought to fore that some portion of Academy’s land, from the tube-well side, has been encroached by certain anti-social elements from the nearby Krishna Nagar locality after breaking down the boundary wall.
“The encroachers even browbeat Academy officials and use muscle power to stop them from getting the broken wall repaired,” they informed.
Sources further said that scarcity of funds in the Academy has reached to that limit where there is no money even to buy stationary for use in Academy offices and the papers, writing pads etc are being purchased by the officials there by making contributions from among themselves.
The visible example of dying art pieces are sculptures in the Academy lawn which are in absolute dilapidated shape and the output of hard works by the artists is surrounded by wild growth and from the very look of these pieces of art it seems that these were never even polished, what to say about other aspects of their preservation.
Ganesh Sharma-a renowned sculptor of international repute, whose sculpture was placed at the Academy lawn in the year 1987 after the culmination of a camp of national level at that time informed that all the sculptures in the Academy were made during such camps as there used to be 10-15 day painting and sculpture making camps on alternate years.
“Now camps of sculpture making are not taking place for the last about 10 years while sometimes camps of painting are organized at the Academy,” he said adding that all the sculptures at the Academy were crafted by very reputed and renowned artists of the country.
Sharma expressed dismay as none is willing these days to spend money on preservation of such precious art pieces.
“When civilizations collapse only sculptures are excavated from the earth to reveal details of a particular era,” he maintained adding that even the name plates with some sculptures have been damaged and even the Academy might not be in a position to say which art work belonged to which artist.
Still another artist informed that Academy has also stored many paintings made by artists during the camps but none of these have been displayed but are dumped somewhere to decay and rot.
“Maximum performing artists including those of folk parties like Gitru, dance groups and many individual artists are completely dependent on the Academy for their livelihood and all these artists are now facing a very tough time since the last two years,” a theatre artist Jawala Singh Rajput (name changed) informed.
“Earlier the Tourism Department and the Academy used to organize different programmes and engaged artists for that but presently these organizations jointly organize such programmes thereby decreasing the work allotment to the artists pushing them to crisis,” she said adding that the Academy even failed to start online programmes during the lockdown triggered by COVID-19 pandemic.
“Poor maintenance of Abhinav Theatre reflects negligence of employees concerned while some artists lack the spirit of being an artist and spit Pan Masala at the sink of green room in Abhinav Theatre thereby spoiling it,” Mohd Yaseen, who holds Junior Fellowship from Union Ministry of Culture and has also performed many plays at Abhinav Theatre said.
He said that poor work culture at Abhinav Theatre is due to prevailing faulty system there under which approvals are required for even buying a bulb what to say of other things.
A retired employee of the Academy informed that the cultural organization will soon come up with a Writers Club which is almost ready and will have a mini-theatre with limited seating arrangement.
“The Academy is in dire need of a local Secretary who may understand local issues properly,” he opined adding that presently grants of many NGOs working in the field of art and culture have been stopped by the concerned authorities.
“There are 135 such NGOs in Kashmir and about 40-50 in Jammu,” he informed.
More insiders informed that the Academy gave aid of Rs. 9000 per artist in the year ending 2020 and starting months of 2021.
“About 1057 artists in Jammu have applied online for the financial aid which was available only for 870 artists,” they said adding that the beneficiaries included groups like theatre groups, folk parties, Gojri groups which were 676 in number and individuals artists were 381.
“As many as 608 artists from the groups were given the aid after verification along with 239 individual artists and the aid of 23 artists is still with the Academy for which artists are asked to deposit the required formalities,” sources in the Academy claimed.
A performing artist on the condition of anonymity said, the relief was just peanuts and was given only to the performing artists-actors and dancers and the technicians, spot boys, makeup boys and others like this were not given this aid.
A.S Aman, Additional Secretary when contacted said the Academy was not immediately regularized on the pattern of a Union Territory (UT) after the abrogation of Article 370 from J&K on August 5, 2019.
“Only a month back new constitution for the Academy has been framed and J&K Lieutenant Governor has been made as the president of the Academy and he will be the final signing authority now as per the new constitution while earlier it was Governor,” he informed.
He also said that process is underway to frame Central Committee, General Council and other bodies of the Academy.
“We are in the process to submit agenda to the Central Committee for the pending works like payments to the artists and others for the last 2-3 years for approval,” Aman maintained.
On leak at the roof of Abhinav Theatre, he said that Detailed Project Report for the repair of Abhinav Theatre made in the year 2012 also included the repair of the leak in the roof but the same could not be properly repaired due to certain technical reasons.
However, he declined to reply when asked how much time will the Academy take to come at par with cultural organizations of other UTs like Delhi and Chandigarh as far as working of the cultural organization is concerned.
The other Additional Secretary, Sanjeev Rana when contacted too remained tight-lipped and avoided comments while the Academy Secretary, Rahul Pandey could not be contacted for comment despite repeated attempts.