At the HIPAMS workshops the participating community artists stated that film and documentary makers, amateur and professional photographers often visit the artists’ villages to record their process of art making and using it in their creative endeavour. The researchers or journalists often visit their villages to interview the artists about the art tradition, daily lives to publish papers, books or news reports. Sometimes those feature or documentary films are made for commercial distribution, sometimes photographers sell images to earn money or recognition. However benefit is rarely passed back to the dancers either in terms of remuneration or attribution. Same holds true for curators of art galleries or craft retailers who collect the traditional and diversified products by the community artists to exhibit or sale and do not pass the benefit to the community.
All these issues are related to the intellectual property rights of the individual artists and the communities of the artists. These issues are not unique to the artists’ communities participating in the HIPAMS but also observed in the other parts of the globe. To address these problems, Indigenous Art Codes were developed in Australia to protect artists’ rights. The purpose and effectiveness of such ethical codes were discussed by the team members with the communities of Patuas, Baul Fakiri musicians and Chau dancers and mask makers who in turn agreed to develop such codes.
With this background four separate Art Codes for Patuas, Bauls Fakiri musicians and Chau dancers and mask makers were drafted and revised several times in which members of artists’ communities participated actively. These codes contain a number of principles that are embedded in Indian law, such as the right of attribution for Performers, and a number that emanate from general human rights norms, such as the right to culture. The purpose of these codes is to lay out the hopes and expectations of the members of the artist communities in their dealings with these different groups who draw on and often profit from their dance.
The art codes have been discussed with the respective stakeholders that include craft retailers, musical event organizers, art galleries, cultural tour operators, photographers, film makers to generate awareness among them and to receive feedback on the codes. The Art Codes will now be distributed to the artists groups, their societies so that when the stakeholders approach the individual artist or their group for a particular project or event, the artists give them a copy of the codes as a written document of understanding between two parties i.e stakeholders and the artists. The aim is that through this process, respect will be shown for the artist communities and their intangible heritage, and they will be given due acknowledgement and remuneration to ensure that their heritage continues into the future.
Please read the guideline on ethical approaches for working with the traditional artists here.
Patachitra artist Suman's scroll used in calendar without permission
Baul artist Girish's image used in book without permission
Workshop with artists on intellectual property rights
This research project, Heritage Sensitive Intellectual Property and Marketing strategies: India (HIPAMS - INDIA), is funded by the British Academy's Sustainable Development Programme, supported under the UK Government's Global Challenges Research Fund 2018-2021.