City-based musician Arun Sivag shares his thoughts on preserving tribal music
The singer talks about his upcoming projects and his journey in music
Arun Sivag is a musician and social entrepreneur from Bengaluru. He majored in global per- cussion and deepened his understanding of traditional South Indian instruments while pursuing his education in music at the University of Gothenburg. Arun has organised and taken part in numerous leadership and arts exchange programmes between Europe and Southeast Asia over the past 10 years.
Tell us about the background of your work and how it started.
Financing my education from an early age, I found opportunities to learn from workers in social justice organisations who supported me and encouraged a dedication towards music education and its impact on social change. I was intrigued by the similarities and differences between people and cultures from various regions during my bachelor's. This deepened while I was studying world music at the University of Gothenburg with exposure to the music around the world and its significance in holistic human development in every society. These experiences have tempered my contribution as a cultural delegate to over 15 countries representing India. I have delivered performances and awareness lectures curated to promote unorthodox means for global integration, cultural dialogue, and preservation of endangered ethnicities. After my field experience, the master's in social work gave me in-depth insights into the social justice sector in India.
What are the biggest milestones in your career so far?
I have always worked to produce and curate numerous educational arts and cultural initiatives in collaboration with the Consulates of Japan. Spain, and Sweden along with inter-governmental organisations like the European Commissionandthe United Nations Agencies and various state and central government ministriesin India. I have received multiple awards such as the Music and Culture Diplomat Award by the United States Department of State, the Corona Service Award by the Karnataka Press Club Council and the Kuvempu Award in the Social and Cultural category by the Department of Performing Arts and Kuvempu Cultural and Social Trust.
What trends do you see in folk music?
In today's times we cannot think only from a nationalist view, but need to function as global citizens. In that context, when it comes to music, the marginalised groups such as the tribal and folk music community are losing their identity. This has to be addressed.
What would you like to change in your field?
We should identify and celebrate every genre of artiste, with the same fervour Every artiste should be able to have equitable opportunity, regardless of where they come from.
Tell us about your work as an activist.
I work to establish international collaborations between independent musicians and performers to garner support for diverse initiatives. I aspire to keep advocating for those who preserve rare and endangered musical knowledge frameworks.
Why did you choose this cause?
As a musician and social worker, I have seen my fellow artistes being treated inferiorly despite their skill, hard work and talent. I followed my passion for music and it took me everywhere I have gone to represent our indigenous art forms. This allowed me to raise awareness and consciousness towards the cause of protecting and promoting artistes in our society
What are some of the challenges faced by you while working on social matters?
As an artiste working in a field that does not get much attention, it becomes difficult to bring a positive change at the policy-making level because at the end of the day we are considered performers for enter- tainment purposes. The torch bearers of the rich culture and heritage of any nation or region should be their artistes. Sadly, they do not have an identity that is regarded essential to society.
What are your upcoming projects?
I aim to focus on building bridges between distant artistic counterparts and communities invested in social transformation, including with government functionaries, civil societies, and patrons of the arts, to create sustainable opportunities for indigenous communities. My upcoming projects are Budakattu Tribal and Folklore Archive, which will create a digital database of the tribal artistes of our country. I am working on Kala Card, which will work as an identity card for artists in our country Tribal Music Festival and International Exchange Programs are also part of my upcoming projects.