According to the artistes, due to the lockdown owing to COVID-19 last year, they had lost their income as the festivals were organised in a simple way without entertainment programmes and this had left them to take up petty jobs, but the income from them was not enough to run the families.
However, they had waited for this season during the Tamil month of Chithirai (April-May) which used to fetch them good income. Since, the second wave has started, again restrictions have been imposed and festivals banned, they demanded to relax a few restrictions and allow them to conduct programmes during the festival season.
“We earn over 60 per cent of annual income during the month of Chithirai when the temple festivals are held. But, the restrictions on the festivals will affect our income,” said Chinnaponnu Kumar of Thanjavur Folk Artistes Federation.
Meanwhile, Federation of Tamil Nadu Folk Artistes Associations general secretary Rajendran said, there are over 4 lakh folk artistes in Tamil Nadu and over 6 lakh family members, who have been affected by the restrictions. “All these people have lost their livelihood due to the restrictions. So we urge to relax the curbs and allow cultural events during the festivals,” he urged. He also suggested making use of the folk artistes in the COVID-19 prevention works and awareness programmes so that they can make a decent living.
He also urged the government to provide membership in the arts and culture Department to those artistes who have applied and are waiting for it and distribute the compensation given by Centre and state governments.
They submitted a petition to Collector M Govinda Rao and appealed to initiate steps to get their demands fulfilled.