When the pandemic struck and lockdowns were announced across the world, a bunch of artists tuned in to various online mediums and saved us from going insane. Musicians, bakers, chefs, actors, poets, comedians, book-clubs, writers, among others, were generous on Instagram/Facebook/YouTube, distributing their wonderfully honed talents for the world to relish. Almost every evening, there was a catalogue of events happening all over the internet – mostly for free.
Amidst all these activities, I figured one fundamental truth about the expanse of the industry. If you don’t support art in your highs, art won’t be alive to help you in your lows.
Art transcends social boundaries and geographical borders. It glides over timelines to become timeless. Our love for artists who are no more with us is beautiful. Listening to Frank Sinatra or Mohammed Rafi or admiring Vincent Van Gogh today is natural admiration, and that’s not something we would or should stop. They are a revered part of our history and culture.
However, there are reasons why your local artists, who are alive and struggling, need you urgently.
Social media likes don’t pay bills
While I can appreciate a rapper staying hundreds of miles away by following him on social media or liking her posts, I can add a significant contribution to a local artist’s life. I’m a ray of hope for the singer next door who’s hosting an open-mic and needs to pay his bills this month.
Think global, but act local
Your local artists understand local issues much better than anybody else. They are people in the same boat, struggling with and fighting against conventions and systems. Many social revolutions, which turned into a worldwide uproar, mostly started because some people from the community stood up and raised their voices.
What’s matters to you, matters to them
The dying handloom of your state, the last musical instrument of a kind, the death of a language – artists understand survival struggles in the most real sense. Therefore, they are the best people to help society retain its dying legacies in the most creative way possible.
Their dreams, our achievements
We have all seen how winners of reality show competitions, or national level auditions are received once they are home with the trophy. The state, the city, the school and the neighbourhood cheer for the winner and do lengthy interviews. The pride comes from within, and it should.
However, it’s only equally or more critical to support the artist when he is preparing for his dreams. For an artist, his or her family is beyond biology, it’s the audience. What’s family when it isn’t there when in need?
Therefore, the next time you listen to a local artist, don’t just pass. Please go and talk to the person and ask about ways of extending support. The next time a budding book club, comedy club, or poetry club hosts an event, try to find some time and attend. While pricing is important, trust me when I say that many of the events are actually underpriced. Hence, before raising eyebrows at the ticket, try to do a quick mental calculation of how much the venue, sound system, and other logistics cost, and how much does the artist actually take home?
Every artist is deeply invested in his or her work. Therefore, don’t feel free to go and give unprofessional criticism there. It will not help the artist but might destroy his or her confidence for a long time. Instead, if it’s well-meaning constructive criticism, especially if you are experienced in the field, please don’t shy away. Artists love to grow!
As a society, we owe a lot to art and artists. If you know some local artists around, do write them a message of appreciation and support. Let them know that you are eager for their next show. If you don’t know any local artists, please look around: there are many who would be immensely happy that you reached out to them.
Artists make our communities beautiful, and it׳s up to us to preserve and develop this ecosystem of creators.
Featured image credit: JM/Flickr