With their willingness to push creative boundaries while preserving and promoting the culture of a place, artistes are a mirror to and of society.
However, the struggles that artistes undergo isn’t unknown to any. In this scenario, Sikkim too has its own ‘unfair’ share of tales to tell.
“The departmental bureaucratic red tape ensures that artistes run from pillar to post without redressal for years,”
While a countable number of local artists have been earning their bread and butter through their talent, for the uncountable, it’s restricted to occasional creative output fuelled by a personal desire to do something.
“I did try to make and release songs in Sikkim but somewhere it boils down in the market,” says singer, Anisha Lama.
For the pool of talents, the “small” market they say is becoming a deterrent with respect to revenue growth.
With a population of just six lakhs, Sikkim may be the least populous state in India. However, this tiny Himalayan state can boast about varied talents which ironically when comes to acknowledgement needs to struggle.
Artistes like Tshering Leezum Bhutia, Girish & the Chronicles, Crystal and the Witches and Mingma D. Lepcha have been on the national stage getting acclaimed from experts and public. But dormancy within the Sikkimese society in general and the government in terms of recognising them is what bothers the artistes. The increasing marginalisation of artistes and depletion in the volume of creative output is what concerns them.
Another major issue is the lack of payment.
Amir Gurung who works as a director, photographer and camera person claims that he has a long list of people who are still to pay him his dues for the work he did when asked by public and private agencies.
It seems like society respects art but doesn’t view the professional artists with the same gravitas as a doctor or an engineer.
Basics like a bound contract which is generally signed between two parties are absent in Sikkim, where creative work is usually done on trust and belief.
“The trust is usually not reposed as when the payment time comes they simply disappear,” adds Amir.
Also in the government sector, many artistes have complained of not receiving payment for work(s) done years ago.
An artist not willing to be disclosed stated that a certain department has not paid him and other artistes their remuneration for the past two years.
“The departmental bureaucratic red tape ensures that artistes run from pillar to post without redressal for years,” he states.
Organisation of Musicians and Artists of Sikkim (OMAS), started in 2013 deserves appreciation for highlighting issues faced by artistes here. They have organised rallies and programs demanding their rightful space in the Sikkimese society. However, the movement has started showing signs of stagnation with internal issues creating a vacuum in the organisation.
Nevertheless, creative pursuits by the youth have resulted in some extraordinary talent blazing through the consciousness of the people.
Tribal Rain is one such band from the state which has a following not just in Sikkim but across all the Nepali speaking regions. But due to the tragic death of its lead vocalist, Rahul Rai, it seems like the band has taken a backseat and not much information is available on the current scenario of the band.
Another artiste, Ugen Namgyal Bhutia popularly known as UNB who started off as a rap artist and has a degree in sound engineering is now looking for better prospects outside the Himalayan state. He is one among the many talents who have joined the ‘shifting- their-work-base’ bandwagon from Sikkim to another metropolis.
It’s a sad state of affairs that the local artistes are deprived of both valuation and evaluation in their own homeland.
The artistes hope that someday things would change and along with other developments, their ship of artistry too makes a headway against the heavy seas.