GST bad for already struggling art industry: Jagannath Panda

NEW DELHI
3 Sep 2017

GST aims at making the tax structure uniform across India but is bad for the already struggling art industry, which needs more incentives and opportunities to grow, says renowned artist Jagannath Panda.
For the Odisha-born artist, who is showcasing his new series of works in a solo exhibition, titled 'Crystal Cities', after a seven-year hiatus, taxation is a sensitive topic for artists struggling to survive.
Questioning the uniform Goods and Services Tax law, he asks how "intellectual art" can be compared to an industrial commodity.
"It is bad because you can't look at any creative intellectual product as a commodity. It is not a mass product.
Sometimes we sell and sometimes we don't. And if the government compares it to any industrial product, it is not fair to the artist," Panda told PTI.
He recalls the days of his own struggle when putting up an art show posed huge challenges. From finding an affordable place to showcase art works to gathering support from sponsors, Panda has overcome several hurdles in his artistic journey.
"I belong to Bhubaneswar in Odisha. My father was a government employee and we lived in a small house there. We are a big family and supporting education in an art school was a challenge for my father."
After I passed out from M S University in Baroda, the lack of government resources to showcase my works became a major hurdle. When you are new in the market, reaching out to private studios also becomes difficult."
The situation has not changed much since, he believes.
"I think we should get many more incentives and opportunities. Because if we look back, not many new mediums have come up... there are not many opportunities for younger artists," he said.
Panda, 47, compares the struggling state of the Indian art industry with China, where artists get massive backing from the government.
"Whenever I analyse the present state of our industry, the only example that comes to my mind is China. Chinese artists produce massive art works and they do business of billions which adds to the economy of their country.
"Unlike India, there are a lot of incentives given by the government...they don't own any land for the studio but the government gives them massive studio spaces for a very little amount. In India, we struggle to get space and are dependent on private entities," he said.
His recent exhibition reflects some concerns of an artist, deeply connected with contemporary events.
A mixed bag of paintings, sculptures and photographs, Panda's new paintings comment on rapid urbanisation and issues of privacy in a new world dominated by social media.
Drawing from the tensions of urbanised environments, the artist is clearly exploring his concerns with urbanisation and dislocation, social and economic injustice and shifts in cultural paradigms.