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To the Puneri Audience, From an Artist – Open Letter

>Yashodhan Burange Yashodhan Burange
June 01, 2017

“If the people in the audience are talking, you’re being ignored. If the people are gazing at you, you’ve got something they want to hear.” – Chuck Berry

Namaskar! By putting a Chuck Berry quote, I’m slyly trying to segregate my own audience into two categories- 1) The ones who found my use of this quote pretentious. 2) The ones who found it pretentious and yet, are willing to give me another chance.

There’s a simple truth in Mr. Berry’s words. As an artist, I find it quintessential that the audience reciprocates and interacts with the art, performance art or not. If they do, the artist garners enough confidence to improvise. At the end of the day, this is the most basic need of an artist from his/her audience. A response. For the ever-changing and -growing set of amazing creators, the audience is a perfect catalyst for constant improvement.

Pune, a cultural stalwart of our state and country, has always been the focal point of art. So addressing Punekars is an intimidating task, they counterattack you with ferocious logic and this is something I love about our city. However, please understand the necessity of what I’m about to say. I do believe that it would significantly change and improve the scenario. The artists are changing, the city is catching up. But just a tad bit slower.

This slight change and chase of pace is what I want to address today. When an artist is striving to bring something new to the table, there’s always this nervousness at the audience’s reaction. The unpredictability is exciting as well. However, the lack of reaction is disappointing. Just like social media, and perhaps due to social media, the renowned keep getting more attention while the indie artists suffer. Now I know that this is a part and parcel of the creator’s circle, but somewhere, the audience needs to stretch their willingness to explore.

While you keep admiring the distant and celebrated artists, someone whom you probably know- a closet writer, actor, filmmaker, painter or photographer is going unnoticed. Interact and promote, it goes a long way. So, if you expect an artist to produce art with undeterred commitment and honesty, then it’s your moral obligation to reward him/her with patience, support and if you deem fit- praise. Pushing the local scene forward benefits everyone.

Also, there’s this economic factor. I overheard a father telling his son that the Arts’ field is congested and non-profitable. While this may be true, ask yourself- “What have I done to benefit my local arts circle?” We download music illegally, we torrent movies, convert Youtube videos. Caption our selfies and profile pictures with poetry without crediting the poet, put filters on the photos of a hardworking photographer. Without considering his/her efforts in post editing. The act of nurturing is a two-way street, you support while the artist takes it and rewards you for this same support.

Apart from the support and response, another important and depreciating factor is lack of respect. Perhaps the most harmful aspect, many artists eventually quit because of the way they are treated. Again, an occupational hazard, but we can all do better.

A freelance artist is still an artist. When you hire their services, it’s your responsibility to treat them properly and ensure that they don’t suffer- mentally and economically. Many artists survive on verbal references and project-based funding, any delay or improper conduct makes it extremely hard for him/her to sustain. The need to have a rough life is a stereotype, often it hampers creativity. Not every creator thrives in this storm; the least you can do is to make his professional life just a bit steadier.

There’s a lot that can be said and demanded, but then again, there’s a lot to be thankful for. As a Punekar, I’m proud to witness the changes happening in the development of Art. Without your steady support, this city wouldn’t be enough of an encouragement for several of those outside artists who have migrated here. Speaking on behalf of them as well as our city’s very own artists, I only ask that this support stays constant! Thank you.

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