Goa's professional theatre and cultural groups, which used to be busy organising shows during the annual Ganesh festival, have got no bookings this time in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, say some organisers. The state government said it was aware of the problems faced by theatre artists and was hopeful that the culture sector will be able to resume its activities by October or November.
Earlier, various drama and cultural groups used to organise their shows during the 10-day Ganpati celebrations.
The festival this year began on Saturday under the shadow of coronavirus.
"My theatre group used to perform at least 40 to 45 shows during the Ganesh festival. We are blank this time as there are no bookings due to COVID-19 restrictions, said Rajdeep Naik, promoter of Kala Chetana Volvoi, one of the oldest theatre groups in Goa.
The state's theatre industry is staring at an uncertain future as nobody knows when cultural activities will resume, said Naik, whose group is known for its epic dramas, including "Firangi Fataas" which delved on the issue of mother tongue as the medium of instruction.
He said at least 25 to 30 professional theatre groups in the state were dependent on the Ganesh festival season to launch a new play or enact old popular dramas for the public.
Restrictions on gatherings due to the COVID-19 pandemic have forced several public Ganeshotsav groups to curtail their celebrations to one-and-a-half days, he noted.
Goa's Art and Culture Minister Govind Gaude said the state government is aware of these problems, but is "helpless" due to coronavirus-related restrictions.
"We are hoping the culture sector will resume by October-November this year. It is entirely dependent on the standard operating procedures that would be released by the Union government on August 30," he said.
He ruled out the possibility of providing any financial assistance to the groups.
Naik said last month, various artists made representations to Chief Minister Pramod Sawant, Union AYUSH Minister Shripad Naik and Gaude.
"We had appealed to the government to get us accommodated in government-run institutions like Doordarshan and the All India Radio. The government can also use our art for creating awareness on COVID-19, he said.
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