Letting art thrive

It is not yet the festival season, but the capital city has come alive in a festive mood with the sixth edition of the Mountain Echoes festival kicking off yesterday. For the next two days, Thimphu will be talking about a new horizon of imagination and creativity.

The festival has brought together, writers, musicians, photographers, poets, and comedians, in short, artists with great literary minds to share and learn from each other. For most Bhutanese, it is a rare opportunity and a great forum to be standing shoulder to shoulder with great names with great works of art in their names.

Besides a befitting dedication to the 60th Birth Anniversary of His Majesty the Fourth Druk Gyalpo, a festival of such calibre will leave behind a lot. The festival itself may be over in the next two days, but it will open the minds of aspiring Bhutanese artists. An impact had already been created with the past five editions of the festival.

Predominantly an oral society, development of literature has become important especially with the younger generation fast moving to a visual culture. Without our own literature written by our own people, it will be difficult to tell our story, the Bhutanese story.

And for that, artists and writers have to be supported. Today, if it is not the restrictions, artists in Bhutan bemoan the lack of support to let creativity take hold to keep up with changing times.

Despite all the odds, in recent years, we have seen a birth of a creative revolution, small it may be. It is happening in all forms of art – films and music, multi media, fine and performing arts and live entertainment. Take for instance our film industry. From a largely copied concept, Bhutanese are now trying their hands on creative feature films. Some are competing at regional and international competitions.

We see aspiring writers with talent, but without means to get their work published. In the last few years, Bhutanese writers have churned out quite a number of titles, starting from reading materials for school children to fiction. Such efforts should be recognised and the best recognition will come from encouraging and supporting them.

If moviemakers are just seen as business people or RAPA dancers as mere dancers and not artists, we are not encouraging the growth of the creative industry. Fortunately, the understanding is beginning to change with Her Majesty Gyalyum Dorji Wangmo Wangchuck at the helm nurturing aspiring local writers and promoting a creative society.

Literary festivals like this will give valuable exposure to draw the best from what we see and learn from their experience. If literature and art, music and dance, film and drama can enhance human life and enrich us, they need the licence and space to thrive.

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