…for gainful employment and talent-hunt 

Younten Tshedup | Gelephu

The courtyard of Losel Gyatsho Academy in Gelephu is bustling with noise and excitement. In this crowd of over 100 students are the future actors, movie directors, dancers, singers, and painters.

Over the next two weeks, the participants would undergo basic training on filmmaking, dancing, singing, painting and sketching, among others under the programme, Art for People.

Borne out of a vision to nurture a culture of performing arts in a society that has limited scope for artists, Art for People programme started as an initiative of two like-minded individuals who harboured a passion to create a platform for individuals to hone their innate interest and talent in the performing arts.

One of the founders, Chand RC, said that educating the youth out of the content-driven classroom-learning was important. “If children are academically inclined, their doors are open for many opportunities. But what about those children who are not academically inclined?”

He said for those thousands of graduates and out of school youth who are not cut out for the civil service, private enterprises or other businesses, a platform needed to be provided to carry forward their lives.

As a filmmaker, Chand RC said that the realm of performing arts had enormous potential that could shape the youth into self-confident, disciplined, responsible, and caring individuals capable of making a positive impact in their communities.

“Art for People acts as a medium for people to express through performing arts and also open up a sustainable career opportunity for them.”

He said that although the film industry in the country is in its nascent stage, it has prospects for those with talents.

“There is a huge untapped potential of talent among the young Bhutanese. Given an opportunity, they can be at par with any youth in the world today,” he said. “We just need to provide them with the right path to channelise this energy. And this is what our programme is aiming for.”

He added that, “Art is not solely created for the aesthetic sake; art is a powerful tool that can initiate personal reflection, raise collective awareness and it may even inspire social change.”

Another founder, Tshering Dema, said that most of the Bhutanese artists today are self-made with no proper training and guidance. “Our youth have the skills but they lack in techniques. We are trying to provide them with a platform where they can explore their talents and potential.”

As an educationist, she said most of the parents expect their children to listen to them and act accordingly. “This makes the child grow up in a culture that makes them dependent on instructions and they cannot think on their own.”

She said that most of the time parents don’t even realise the kind of potential their kids have. “Some of the kids have talents of very high level, which with proper training and guidance could actually be in the international market.”

If the programme goes well, Tshering Dema said that their idea is to develop a full time course in performing arts. “Today, we live in a society where people perceive performing arts as a hobby and a part time job. We want to change this.”

Chand RC said that seeing the massive impact of the programme on the participants and community, Art for People Foundation aspires to develop into a full- fledged contemporary performing arts center, the first of its kind in the country.

“We aspire to become a pioneer institute in the country that provides holistic performing arts education and help nurture the creative talents among the youth.”

One of the participants, Rinchen Drukpa, said that he wants to pursue acting as a career. “Despite all the challenges we have today in our film industry, I want to become an actor for the sheer love for this art,” he said.

He said that the industry could grow if the present language barrier is broken. “Today, we only have Bhutanese watching our movies. We can have global audiences if we explore the opportunities because the quality of movies we produce are very high.”