Lockdown Blues: Theatre Artistes Left To Starve With No Govt Aid In Odisha

Bhubaneswar:  The nationwide lockdown has brought life to a standstill especially for those who earn their bread and butter on a daily wage basis.

While government is providing financial assistance to labourers, farmers, differently-abled among others, no such announcement has been made for theater artistes including actors, makeup artists, costume artists who earn a living from small stage performances.

Expressing the plight of stage artists, Debananda Nayak (Sony), a drama director who grooms fresh talent through his theatre troupe ‘Expression’ said, “The state government has announced something for everyone but what about the actors, actresses, directors, set designers, makeup artist, costume artist, musicians and many others.”

These theatre artistes depend solely on stage performances for earning a livelihood to support their families.

A helpless Bhubaneswar-based actor Jyoti Panda said, “I earn my livelihood from acting and the closure of auditoriums has left me in extreme distress. Even some of my good friends have also stopped taking my calls fearing that I may ask for monetary assistance.”

Set designer Saurasthra Jena stated that they neither fall under the category of daily wage earners nor farmers to avail financial aid from the government.

If the government doesn’t extend a helping hand to them, then they would starve to death.

“It seems that we theatre artistes don’t exist in the society during corona times. We are religiously following the lockdown rules but who knows many of us may die of hunger before being killed by coronavirus,” said senior stage artiste Mamata Mohanty.

When asked about the help being extended to these artistes, Odia Language Literature and Culture department commissioner-cum-principal Secretary Manoranjan Panigrahi stated that the government will certainly look into the matter once the situation returns to normal.

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