Gangtok, 9 June:
After a hiatus, the Organisation of Musicians and Artistes of Sikkim [OMAS], convened its general body meeting today in the capital. The meeting was attended by the executive body, members, artists from creative pursuits across the spectrum including music, dance, fashion, photography and films.
Sonam Gyaltsen Bhutia, one of the founders of the organization, informed that the general body meeting was meeting to discuss and deliberate on a way forward for artists including boosting the ecosystem for their future work.
Another key member of OMAS, Rinchen Shenga shared details of future plans of the organisation including membership drives, publishing an annual magazine, annual events, OMAS awards and charity shows for various causes.
Pertinent issues were discussed at the meeting which touched upon many problems being faced by artists like the absence of a proper payment mechanism and construction of art infrastructure in the state.
Tshering Wangchuk Lepcha, another OMAS founder-member who is now in active politics affiliated with the Sikkim Krantikari Morcha, reminisced about the early days of the organisation and the work it has done in the past, notable among which were charity shows for the Uttarakhand Flood victims, Nagaland Earthquake disaster, Nepal Earthquake victims and for North Sikkim.
The need for a Local Artists Protection Act, which can act as a shield for artists against any injustice or exploitation was also stressed at the meeting.
"The need for issuance of artist cards by the government can also play a huge role towards boosting artist interests," said Pranay Giri, one of executive members said.
Stressing on getting paid with dignity, the members also held that entertainment and other taxes should not be levied on local Sikkimese artists which would encourage more to take up the creative arts as a career option.
They also discussed future art infrastructure projects that could come up while also underlining the various economic and tourism advantages the state can enjoy following an art boom in Sikkim.
Many artists presented the current scenario of art and culture in Sikkim and stressed the urgent need to re-energise the people, particularly the youth, to take up creative pursuits.
Proper and timely payment for artists, particularly by governmental departments featured prominently in the discussions focusing on discrepancies on the part of the government and the society.
Sanjeev Gurung, SKM’s CLC president (Gangtok), journalist Yougan Tamang, entrepreneur Sonam Choden Katsop, actor Sonam Barphungpa, fashion designer Tshering Dolma, singer Pawan Rai and Karma Tempo Bhutia of Photography Club of Sikkim were among those who attended the meeting and shared suggestions.