Art Worth Millions On Display, No Funds For Preservation

Art Worth Millions On Display, No Funds For Preservation

19 September 2013
Rising Kashmir
Manzoor-ul-Hassan

Srinagar: Artists, musicians and art lovers express dismay over lack of funds and support from the state government to preserve the traditional art and artifacts in Kashmir. They believe the government has adopted indifferent approach regarding the preservation of Kashmir’s cultural heritage. According to artists, who displayed their art and artifacts at a two-day exhibition organized by Jammu and Kashmir Academy of Art Culture and Languages, the legacy they wish to carry forward to the next generation is faced with a tough time following the “financial constraints” and government “apathy”. “Though there are various government-run cultural agencies for the promotion and preservation of culture but artists still struggle to get their justified dues,” says a young musician Manzoor-ul-Haq, who displays a number of musical instruments and apparels collected by his family. Haq, who is son of Valley’s famous artist, comedian and satirist, late Ghulam Ali Majboor says the government provides meager remuneration to cultural groups. “There are around 50 to 60 cultural groups registered with the government. Each group gets a modest amount of 40000 rupees per year as financial assistance,” he adds. The cultural academy which has been set up to encourage artists in the state usually disappoints them. Haq states that the academy remains out of bounds for traditional musicians. “It has no place for trained and traditional musicians. Only Rabab player is employed in the cultural academy,” he said. “The academy has also stopped Sufiyana music classes running in the past at Tagore Hall.” Another young artist, Shahjehan Ahmad Bhagat from Wathoora Budgam says the folk theater artists face “worst kind of discrimination” as the Academy has fixed Rs 300 per performance at the time laborers are Rs 500 per day. “Very few artists are registered with the academy and there is no proper fee fixed for them. They have neither been placed on contract or audition,” he says. Atiqa Banoo, who retired as Director Research and Libraries Jammu and Kashmir and now runs Meeras Mahal Museum in Sopore with a wide range of artifacts for preservation, says she is alone in the mission without government support. “I have collected around 5000 to 6000 artifacts at our museum. I am doing the maintenance of the artifacts of my own without government support,” said Banoo, who started the museum in year 2000. She alleges that the government shows callous approach towards her repeated requests to fund the projects. “I wanted support from government so that the museum will be taken care of professionally. For that I moved a file in the Department of Museum for funding but for the last over a decade there is no headway in the case.” Art lovers, who work with Banoo for the museum, also admit the government was not supporting the museum and they were even struggling to preserve the manuscripts in absence of a proper funding and support. “It is very difficult to raise funds for art in Kashmir. Only the government can help which they are not doing. This approach will not do any good for our efforts to preserve the culture heritage,” they say.