Should artists be surviving on nothing but a nitrogen oxide sandwich during lock down?

Mahrang Anwer

Mahrang Anwer

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Artists or creative sociopaths as Nick Knight reiterates, are rare creatures of nature who don’t believe in stopping their creative output, even through a pandemic.


A few days ago i came across a post by a celebrity calling out platforms asking for favours without payment.

Yes we are under a lockdown. And yes none of this has ever happened before. Therefore we don’t have any point of reference. This is a pandemic and none of us were prepared for it.

If you really come to think of it; it is almost impossible for most of us to spend our quarantine without art. May it be films, books, music or painting. One thing we have to accept is that creativity is appreciated the most in times like these.

Alot of artists and celebrities are using their personal platforms sharing their work for free. In the name of creative expression to uplift spirits during dire times.

In reference to that problematic statement, the question are;

Did an artist ever have the liberty to charge for every service they provided?

In the initial years, artists have to pull favours. When the same artist has reached the pinnacle of his or journey, they start charging for a lot of things they then used to do for free.

Why would they ever do things for free?

Because they have a bigger picture in mind. They’ve been handed down this famous advice that goes something like this ‘Career ke Shuru main tou free kam aur favours denay he hotay hain’ however there will still be people and friends who will give you some favours and you will have to reciprocate even at the top of your fame. It is the basic  rule of the entertainment industry barter book. You scratch my back i scratch yours.

The dynamics and money making principles in the entertainment industry are quite interesting and similar to all the other industries. ‘Big fish eat the little ones’

So alot of ethics we see these top celebrities talking about are never practiced or fought for, when the little fish are going through it.

What our entertainment industry may fail to understand is that this situation cannot be capitalised any more than it already has been. Entertainment during a pandemic is an escape or a break from the torturing reality, it is not something people are choosing because they are ardent fans and will keep watching till their death. As dark as that might sound but yes, entertainment is a luxury at a moment.

And when you become a disposable service during times like this, your art becomes more important than the money. An artist is reminded of the uplifting power of their art.

For a few celebrities who are still looking out to capitalise on the situation, Wouldn’t they still be singing even if they weren’t backed and publicised by some giant firm?

Would they abandon the art? Because the money isn’t coming?

That’s the beauty and the difference between a great artist and a mediocre one. Because they have been through tough times themselves an artist understands a lack of privilege more than anyone else. That is why societies have been built and lifted through their artists.  Because at the end of the day art has a bigger purpose and responsibility towards the society and it’s people.

As opposed to the capitalist opinion, some artists have given their audiences so much hope and positivity by going live and interacting with the public. A few days ago a heart warming video of all celebrities singing ‘Imagine’ by John Lenon was circulating. The kind of positive art we all need at the moment.

During a pandemic that has taken the entire world by a storm, while the number of fatalities increase by every minute in developed countries, while governments are releasing stimulus plans to support their unemployed population to fight against the economic impact of the lockdown, is it justified to watch out to fill our own tea cups rather than sharing what we have?

Some food for thought.

Signing off,

A hopeless optimist.