Dr. Suvarnalata Rao

This is a brief review of the situation relating to patronage to art music in Mumbai, during the last 125 years or so by considering some of the notable events.
In the year 1870, the Parsi Gayan Uttejak Mandali was established. This was perhaps the first formal music club to have been started in the city. In 1883, the Bombay branch of Poona Gayan Samaj was established. Many other Music Clubs followed.
Way back in 1897, Pandit Vishnu Digambar Paluskar gave what was probably the first concert of Hindustani art music where admission was by public ticket sale rather than private invitation from the benefactor.
It is notable that Bombay Music Circle established in 1930 was inclined towards drawing an audience that comprised knowledgeable listeners alone.
Increasing public partnonage to performance in the later 19th and early 20th centuries greatly influenced the profile of Hindustani music concerts.
Some music circles held concerts solely to present selective repertoire. The Agra Gharana Sangeet Samiti for instance, had the primary objective of educating the listeners about the subtleties of different ragas.
When independence came in 1947, it was the beginning of profound changes in the patronage of the performing arts, especially music. All India Radio (AIR), which was already established in the British days (1937), became the medium of state patronage of art music.

Role of Music Circles
At present, in and around Mumbai, there are over 100 music circles. Today, the operative word seems to be the ability to generate adequate funds. The activities of the circles seem to take shape accordingly. Many music circles are known to support not only the established and top-ranking artistes, but also the up and coming artistes.
Organization of music recitals remains the primary goal but many circles such as Dadar Matunga Music Circle for example, are offering many allied services to promote the cause of music.

Support by the State
The All Radio has rendered yeomen service to the cause of Indian music not only the art music but also the other categories such as light, folk, devotional etc.
Prasar Bharati's sound and visual archives have preserved the free India's development - historical, cultural, artistic and scientific - for posterity.
Until very recently, the situation was as follows: For most of the professional musicians, the AIR provided an additional means, of, steady income, that is, the remuneration offered for the broadcast of their music. Both -staff artistes' in the regular employment of AIR and 'casual artistes' who gave occasional broadcasts were graded and salaries or fees for broadcast performances were offered accordingly.
The DD (Doordarshan) honoured the gradation of the AIR and offered concerts to the artistes independently. The national programmes have always been telecast from Delhi and therefore it is obvious that a criterion such as selection of the artistes and the frequency of such programmes etc. is out of local bounds.
However, ramifications of the recently introduced Prasar Bharati bill are quite alarming. Now, only sponsored programmes would be broadcast with the exception of Akashwani Sangeet Sammelan and National Programmes.
The Doordarshan also has followed suit by attempting to market all its programmes. The 'marketability' of art music being lower in comparison with the other genres of music and fields such as sports, art music programmes are bound to take the beating.

As far as the role of music circles, it is to be understood m no uncertain terms that the necessary funds need to be generated by external means.
As a result, we see the same line up of top-ranking artistes everywhere. Sometimes the so-called 'promotion of arts' tends to be mere encouragement to mediocrity rather than support to true talent.
After supporting the arts for 50 years, the Government now expects this sector to be self sufficient. However the abrupt manner in which this is brought on, it sounds indeed radical and prejudicial.
For the top-ranking galaxy of stars, the element of sponsorship is no consequence at all In fact, it seems to have done a great service to them by way of fulfilling their demands of hue fees and other perks and benefits. On the other hand, champion the cause of lesser artistes? Who else but the artiste themselves? The artistes themselves to come together and fight for their cause by showing awareness about their rights.

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