Utthara Unni explains why artistes need not work for free

Of late, many artistes have been voicing their concerns on how many people now expect them to perform or work for free, quoting the pandemic as the reason. Actress – dancer Utthara Unni is the latest artiste to speak about it. When a handful of people inquired why her online classes aren’t free and stated comments like ‘art is not business,’ Utthara shared quite a few of her thoughts about the same through numerous posts on her online page.

In her latest post, she said, “Art is not business. Agreed! But let me give you an example. If an artist falls sick, will the doctors treat her for free? Will the grocery store give her the necessary items to live a decent life? Does the government provide any amenities for her livelihood? An artist still has to pay land tax, road tax, home rent etc. Nothing in the world is given free for an artist. There are many artists who earn their bread and butter through just their art. Why should they work for free?

A human life is considered most important than anything else in the world. But do doctors work for free? Do hospitals work for free? Do doctors get educated for free in our country? There are very few government medical colleges and very few get admitted by merit. Similarly, there are scholarships and sponsors for the incredibly talented kids. But that doesn’t mean we can generalise that all the art in the world should be given for free.

We often hear the misogynistic statement ‘Maybe you should marry a rich man.’ Why should such a statement arise? Because we are not capable of earning a livelihood through our art? There are many couples who are both artists. What about them? Who would pay their bills? How will they raise their children if they should not sell their art? The society should start respecting the work of artists as equal as they respect any other profession like banking or engineering. (sic)”