Few weeks ago I had written about the plight of domestic performers at the North America Bengali Conferences. I had also mentioned that the current CAB president Kajal Sarkar promised to look into this issue and try to resolve the matter in future NABC meets. He also asked the domestic performers to come up with a consolidated list of “10 most important things need to be implemented in future Banga Sammelan for performance related to local artists / groups”. I volunteered to co-ordinate the effort and came up with a list based on inputs from several domestic performers at the NABC 2010. I would like to share the list with you all and maybe you can put in your comments too. I hope all Bengali organizations, who plan to host NABC in the future, would read this and take this as an important feedback from the local/domestic performers and groups.
1. All domestic performers/groups should be invited just like the overseas performers. These days there is no dearth of talent in USA amongst first generation and second generation Bengali Americans. Many performers are either professionals or of professional quality. Scout for them (just the way you do for overseas talent), solicit proposals, and then select them with the help of a “culturally aware” group of people using a rigorous selection process using past credentials and recommendations. Focus on quality and not on quantity.
2. The domestic performers/groups selected through the above process should be treated as invited performers and should not be charged any group registration fee. Professional performers/groups may also have to be paid some token honorarium. The domestic performers should also be offered food coupons for the day of their show as part of the hospitality and preferred hotel reservations.
Individual registrations may be charged to the domestic performers if the individual plans to attend the entire convention.
3. The NABC organizer should publicize the local performers and their performances at the same level as they would for overseas performers in brochures, posters etc. Websites should highlight the selected local performers, their credentials etc. NABC has an obligation to promote the local performers.
4. “Star” performers (overseas or domestic) should not be scheduled to perform in parallel to any other performer (domestic or overseas). Only another “Star” can perform in parallel to a “Star” or none at all. No stage should be given the status of the main stage with all the “Star” performers scheduled to perform on that stage only. Scheduling should be distributed such that the audience do not stick to one hall only.
5. Encourage audience to watch domestic programs by scheduling at such a time that would allow viewers to watch domestic programs without sacrificing performers from Kolkata. This would include periodic announcement by the anchor during any program in any auditorium, which would remind people about which show is going on in other auditoriums.
6. If multiple halls/auditoriums are used, the halls should be equipped and decorated at the same levels. Each hall entrance must display the current program and the upcoming programs to be performed in that hall as well as schedules for the other halls.
7. The stage, light and sound should be adequate and appropriate for the shows to be performed. The groups should be allowed enough time to set up their light cues, check the sound, and at least have a feel for the stage if not a full stage rehearsal. Time slots should be scheduled for this purpose well in advance.
8. Help should be provided to all performing groups to load/unload their sets/props/equipments (if any) and to setup stage and strike-down. This will minimize the time lost in setting up the stage. Also, NABC organizers should offer some level of support for sets and props (chairs, sofa, table, etc) such that the performers do not have bring those heavy stuff with them. This service is typically provided for overseas performers and should also be extended to domestic performers.
9. All stages should be equipped with drinking water bottles, tea/coffee and a first aid kit. The dressing rooms should have adequate lights, and mirrors.
10. Treat all performers and groups, domestic or overseas, with respect and honor they deserve. After all they are bringing value to the NABC and should not be treated like dirt.