Pushed by the Finance Ministry, various autonomous institutions under the Culture Ministry that are sustained by governments grants have committed to generating revenue amounting to 25-30 per cent of their budget and “eventually” achieving “self-sufficiency”.
This is the first time these institutions, whose task is to promote art and culture, have accepted revenue targets.
While some institutions have welcomed the move, saying it brings greater accountability, others have opposed it saying it destroys their “fundamental character”. The ministry has over 30 institutions under its wing.
Among the first institutions to set a target is Sahitya Akademi, which signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the ministry on April 27. The document, accessed by The Indian Express, mentions “internal revenue generation at least 30 per cent of the total budget of the SA (Sahitya Akademi)”.
“The Administrative Division (of the ministry) shall encourage SA to maximise internal resources and eventually attain self-sufficiency,” the MoU says, adding that the ministry may give “physical and financial targets” to the institute of letters.
The Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts (IGNCA) will sign an MoU this week, committing to generating “25 per cent revenue”, while Lalit Kala Akademi has sent its draft MoU to the ministry. Other institutions are also in the process of preparing and signing MoUs.
While they have committed on paper, representatives of these institutions opposed the move during meetings with ministry officials. “The worth of National School of Drama or Sangeet Natak Akademi cannot be gauged by their ability to generate revenue. They are for public welfare,” said a member of an institution’s executive council. “We have little means to generate funds,” said a senior officer of an akademi.
Lalit Kala Akademi, for instance, has a yearly budget of around Rs 28 crore and revenue of just around Rs 50 lakh that comes from renting out its galleries.
“To promote 24 languages and various dialects, Sahitya Akademi organises events across the country. Do you want us to levy an entry ticket for a story-reading session by a Bodo writer or a painting exhibition by a young artist?” asked the head of an institution.
IGNCA member-secretary Sachchidanand Joshi welcomed the move. “Cultural institutions are required to change their mental make-up and bring more professionalism in their approach,” he said. About the contention that cultural institutions cannot be given revenue targets, he said: “It is not about revenue but self-sustenance.”
On IGNCA’s “plans of revenue generation”, he said: “We are looking for CSR partners. We have tapped universities and are signing MoUs with them. We are also reviewing hiring charges for our premises.”
IGNCA’s annual budget is Rs 35 crore, and its revenue, according to Joshi, is 6-7 per cent of the budget. He expects to easily generate over 20 per cent revenue.
The move has its roots in last year’s circular by the finance ministry to all departments to review autonomous institutions and identify their revenue potential. On March 7, the General Financial Rules issued by the Department of Expenditure stressed that “all autonomous organisations, new or already in existence, should be encouraged to maximise generation of internal resources and eventually attain self-sufficiency”.
On April 3, top officials of the culture ministry, including Secretary N K Sinha and heads of departments, held a meeting. “All organisations will have to generate 25 per cent on their own,” the note of the meeting read.