Bengaluru: A culturally alive city, Bengaluru’s poetry gatherings, karaoke nights and theatres provide its artistes a platform to perform on. But with several struggling to keep their art alive for lack of financial support, the 18 per cent Goods and Services Tax (GST) that will be slapped on tickets to performances from July 1 has come a rude shock to the community.
“Levying GST is a good thing in certain sectors, but there are some that you need to exempt from taxes. The GST is bad news for struggling artistes,” says Rubi Chakravarti, a city theatre enthusiast , stand-up comedian and performing artiste.
“Levying tax on performing arts directly translates into treating them like a disposable commodity,” protests Arundhati Raja, artistic director of Jagriti Theatre, a performing arts space in the city. “Performing arts are not goods or a service. They are artistic endeavours and have the power to transport audiences to different worlds and are food for the soul in more ways than one. Slamming a tax on these endeavours serves to diminish these efforts. In the land that gave the world the Natya Sashtra, this is unbelievable!” she adds.
Ms. Raja, who has started a petition addressed to Finance Minister, Arun Jaitley on the issue, says she hope to meet him to persuade him to revoke the tax on the performing arts. The petition had 2,927 signatures as on Friday. Deepti Sudhindra, popular Bharatnatyam artiste from the city echoes her views. “A network of very committed and passionate artistes keeps the cultural momentum alive with minimum funding from the government and private sectors in the city. As a practising artiste I know the work it takes to bring a production to performance.”
“Ticket sales rarely cover production and artiste costs. I am speechless at this move. The government needs to support talent and not kill it by imposing taxes on art,” she added.