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Event Report: Livelihood Models for Skilled Street, Circus & Folk Artists

A series of delightful performances, followed by a series of intense brainstorming, our conference on Livelihood Models for Skilled Street, Circus & Folk Artists went exactly as planned. It encountered several questions but at the same time it managed to work towards building a potential roadmap towards a lasting enterprise. 

Opening Ceremony
The event opened with an welcome speech by Dr. Navina Jafa which was followed by an evocative Keynote speech by renowned designer and curator Rajiv Sethi. These events set the platform for an intense brainstorming session, but not before some delightful impromptu performances by some of the invited artists such as Sheesha Nath ji's "been", Suresh Vyas's Bhavai, as well as some gravity-defying performances by the artists from Manipur's Narayan Nrityalaya.

Lessons from Cambodia
On day one, the primary focus was on the Cambodian Phare Circus, an incredible success story that is required to encourage the CNP initiative considering the odds against it. Xavier Gobin, and Huot Dara, who have nurtured the circus from the beginning, explained how they built a profit-making corporation, one of the major tax payers of the country, through social entrepreneurship, in a war ravaged country with no skill capital. This was exactly the kind of example required to charge up the

The Busking Scheme
The second part of the day was dedicated to launch of the busking scheme. To put things into perspective, the India still has various legal hurdles that club street performers and artists with beggars, thus jeopardizing their livelihood as well as dignity. This is why a busking scheme was discussed in presence of such artists as well as representatives of various government departments, and other stakeholders and it can be hoped that very soon such street artists will be brought under a regulatory framework and allowed to ply their trade without interference. 

The Story of AMUL
The next day was mainly dedicated to the development of a cooperative model for the street artists. Naturally, the session started with an presentation on AMUL, one of the biggest cooperative success stories not only in India but in the entire world. Various participants discussed the similarities as well as the differences between those farmers in Gujarat and the street artists.

This session was followed by another session of brainstorming where various personalities such as Theatre Director Deepan Sivaraman, actor MK Raina, filmmaker Avinash Das, and many others offered their inputs and discussed various aspects of the issue at hand.

It was decided that a pilot project will have to be created, covering a limited number of art forms, so as the test the waters for this kind of a model and figure out if it can be self-sustainable for the artists. We will soon come up with more details of the action plan.

A Fitting Finale
However, the program did not end with just a series of discussions. The artists who were present, could not resist themselves and came up with several impromptu performances. Ishamuddin Khan not only showcased some of his magic tricks but also recounted some of the bittersweet stories of his colourful career. Puppeteer Puran Bhatt ji made is "Anarkali" dance while Shisha Nath ji made everyone else dance with his tunes.


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