(Written by Gayathri Chandran)
Shruti Ghosh, a 19-year-old Mumbai student, aspires to be a writer. When she realised that there was a lack of spaces for teenagers to showcase their talent she created on such platform — Artists Anonymous (AA). In 2017, she began holding events for teenagers to perform — read, sing and do stand-up acts — in front of small groups.
AA, the Mumbai-based organisation, seeks to provide a secure platform for artists to showcase their work and also provides remuneration for the same.
As a spoken word artist and writer, Shruti has been vocal about remunerating artists and creating safe spaces for friends and strangers to attend, unwind and meet like-minded people.
“When I started the monthly meet, nobody openly spoke about paying artists. Several events in the city infact charge artists to perform. I have performed at three different festivals and none of them were free. I feel initiatives such as ours highlight the this widespread problem that artists face,” she says.
Artists here are paid through an online crowdfunding platform.
AA, which is held every month, has become a platform to socialise, open up and make new friends. After every event, there is an audience-performer interaction so that artists can connect with their audience better.
“If you think you do something that qualifies as a performance artform, you’re welcome on our stage. We see a variety of performances from musicians, spoken word artists, stand-up comics and even magicians. We also have a bunch of visual artists such as painters, photographers and illustrators who sell their artworks at our events,” she says.
Yashodhara Sengupta (17), a first year English (Hons.) student, says “My first time performance as gig was in AA. I used to sing in school, but I never had the confidence to go for open mics. So, it was a great platform for me to debut in a way. It was incredibly stimulating.”
Rabia Kapoor, a 21-year-old aspiring writer says, “It’s very uncommon for us to get paid and unlike other organisations I have worked with, AA pays me for my performance.”
Gaia Meera (21), music student currently studying at the Australian Institute of Music, has also performed at one of AA events. “The crowd was really supportive and receptive. I feel like any event where there’s an atmosphere of comfort makes it easier for new artists to have a good set or a good performance.”
Sukhnidh Kaur, a 19-year-old student of St. Xavier’s College, says after the performance they sat and talked and even played a few games. “At AA, I forgot the lines to my own song mid-performance, but everyone just laughed it off and cheered me on. I felt no pressure after that,” she says.