The #MeToo movement which also spread to the performing arts community has found its first big echo when The Music Academy removed seven artistes listed to perform at its annual Conference and Music Concerts this December Season.
The Academy says that it wishes to express solidarity with women who have openly expressed themselves on sexual harassment and related issues against some leading artistes and though these issues have not been investigated and settled, the decision has been taken after discussing the seriousness of the issues and the charges made.
In this list of artistes dropped are chitravina Ravi Kiran, who was decorated with the Academy’s prestigious Sangita Kalanidhi award some years ago. Others ‘dropped’ are O. S. Thyagarajan, Mannargudi Easwaran, Srimushanam Raja Rao, Thiruvarur Vaidyanathan, R. Ramesh and Nagai Sriram.
The Academy has also put out its revised Season time table now on its web site.
While this move was hailed in social media many others are wondering if it is right to drop artistes from the Season’s calendar merely based on accusations made by various people.
The #MeToo process in the city burst forth after well-known playback singer Sripada Chinmayi made serious charges against poet-lyricist Vairamuthu.
Days later, dancer-scholar Swarnamalya and a few other artistes and activists raised the issue and its prevalence in the Carnatic music and classical dance field. Last Sunday, a public meet was organised at MGR-Janaki College for Women, R. A. Puram by an activist group to highlight and discuss sexual harassment and predatory behaviour in the arts field and ways to address such plaints and seek justice.
A member of the core team of a Mylapore-based sabha says that the Federation of Chennai Sabhas has started discussing ways in which a mechanism can be set up to look at issues that the #MeToo process has raised. But many sabhas are yet to take a stand on whether to follow the Academy’s move of dropping some ‘named’ artistes.