Calcutta, March 23: Education minister Bratya Basu today announced financial assistance to performing artistes, the move to boost rural theatre coming a month before the panchayat polls.
“It was our chief minister’s dream to support rural artistes who uphold our culture. We are finally being able to do that. The amount is not enough, but we are sure it would be of some help to them,” Basu said, fellow Natya Academy member Arpita Ghosh by his side.
The minister said a one-time grant of Rs 35,000 each would be given to 100 theatre groups. Around 120 jatra artistes and 215 folk artistes will be given a one-time assistance of Rs 7,000 each, he added.
A monthly pension scheme of Rs 1,500 was also announced for about 170 litterateurs each.
Asked if he, as a theatre personality, ever received any such support from the Left government, Basu said: “No, never. Winkle Twinkle- korbo abar sarkari grant pabo ta to hoyna (I will direct Winkle Twinkle and also receive grants from the government — that’s not possible).” Winkle Twinkle was an anti-establishment play staged during the Left regime.
The minister asserted that the schemes would not be limited to Trinamul loyalists, saying: “We are very transparent.”
CPM leader Surjya Kanta Mishra questioned the selection of theatre groups for the schemes. “Maybe as the panchayat elections are round the corner, they need to woo theatre groups.”
Mamata Banerjee today announced cycles for girl students from the minority community and gave chicks to traders. At a rally in Baruipur, she asked people to “ensure the CPM is kept at a distance”.