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News |  24 Nov 2020 16:54 |  By RnMTeam

Crowdfunded initiative raises over Rs 10 lakh for performance industry workers

MUMBAI: The global pandemic COVID-19 impacted every sector, and the music industry was no exception. Lakhs of jobs were at risk and losses to the live events market ran into thousands of crores, and it was this dismal scenario that propelled Delhi-based talent and brand agency Spectal to launch an initiative.

Called Together For Tomorrow, the campaign focused on skilled and unskilled workers – like light and sound engineers, technicians and tentwallahs – who had overnight been robbed of their livelihood, and managed to crowdfund Rs 10,10,000 in over four months.

Unnoticed by many, the support staff and technical crew are the backbone of a live event. A typical mega-festival or live event employs anywhere from 900 to 1200 support staff including vendors, whereas for a club show that figure could be as low as 30.

Under #TFT, about 100 people in distress from different parts of the country – shortlisted after a thorough vetting process – received a grant of Rs 10,000 to help cover immediate and basic costs.

Funds under the campaign were collected and disbursed through Anahad Foundation – registered as a Section 8 ‘Not for Profit’ organisation in 2013 – that works towards preserving and empowering folk music and musicians across India.

“Kickstarting TFT was motivating particularly in the middle of the worst pandemic this generation has ever seen or hopefully will ever see,” says Spectal founder Himanshu Chowdhry.

“We woke up each day motivated to work around every challenge and raise funds. We are fortunate to have the performance industry workers as our extended family and it feels good to see that we were able to make a positive impact in their lives no matter how small it is. In a way, this initiative has given this organization a purpose. Personally, this is one of the highest points of my professional journey and I am raring to go again with another long-term social initiative that my colleague Ridhi Diwan and I want to launch. We want to inculcate the habit of doing good on a daily basis, and working in collaboration with universities across India, we want to focus on organising food drives to finding sponsors for girl child education, donating books/clothes, helping orphans, and feeding homeless dogs. No act of kindness and empathy is too small," he added.

Application and vetting process

TFT grants covered those individuals who were not salaried and whose sole means of livelihood was the events and performance industry.

The Spectal team – that included Ridhi, Diksha Goel, Abhishek Nag, Raveen Bishnoi, Urvi Varmani, Narottam Kar and Shivanshu Tomar, alongside Himanshu – received applications from all over the country and personally verified every single bit of information that was submitted to them.

To combat the issue of daily wagers’ unfamiliarity with data collection tools like Google Forms, the Spectal team relied on telephone calls for data verification, and in the process became privy to the kind of anguish and anxiety that daily wagers’ were experiencing.

Over three months, about 600 applicants were whittled down further into 300 completed applications and divided into four different categories with those under “no income at all and no other working individual in the family” receiving priority. After due vetting, the applications were submitted to a panel comprising of industry stalwarts and stakeholders to oversee the allocation of funds.

The initiative also received support from artists like Anubhav Singh Jassi, Nikhil D’Souza, Salim Merchant, Guru Randhawa and more on social media. Bands like Swarathma donated one month’s streaming revenue while The Local Train created exclusive merchandise with 100% proceeds going to #TFT.

While events have begun under Unlockdown 4.0, the future for events in India continues to be in doubt, with another surge in cases looming large on the horizon.