A controversy has broken out over Karuna, a grand music festival organised by the Kochi Music Foundation (KMF) in Ernakulam on November 1 last year. The event, which included over 50 musicians from different parts of the country, was supposed to be the first of a large scale music festival to be held in Kochi annually, like the Kochi Biennale art festival. The organisers had said that the proceeds of the first show, held in the aftermath of the 2019 floods in Kerala, would go to the Chief Minister’s Disaster Relief Fund (CMDRF). The Rajiv Gandhi Indoor Stadium, where the event was hosted, was let to the organisers free of cost, since the proceeds were promised to the CMDRF.
However, a Times of India report points out a letter received for a Right To Information query, that says that so far no money from the show has been contributed to the CMDRF.
Kochi Music Foundation was formed by a group of friends including musicians and filmmakers, to organise Karuna, a grand music event that is supposed to be held over five days annually, on the lines of the Kochi Biennale. Music composer Bijibal, Shahabaz Aman, filmmaker Aashiq Abu, actor Rima Kallingal, writer Syam Pushkaran and singer Sithara are some of its members.
“We will be giving the money made out of the ticket sales by the end of the financial year – on March 31. We had officially given a letter to the Collector stating this,” says music composer Bijibal, one of the members of KMF. According to other organisers, they had informed the government in the first week of November through a letter that they incurred a loss, however the money for the ticket sales would be collected and deposited before March 31, 2020.
The ticket sales came to around Rs 6,30,000. Though the stadium was let out for free and the musicians – all famous names – agreed to perform for free, there was still a lot of expense spent on sound, lights, cameras, print and publicity and so on. The expenditure came to more than Rs 22 lakh, and this has to be shelled out from the pockets of the organisers, Bijibal said.
A source at the Collectorate says that the organisers need to give the ticket money whether the event was a success or not. “It doesn’t matter whether they made money or not. They should deposit the ticket sales to CMDRF.”
“We had no sponsors, it is self-funded. We just need some time to give the money from the ticket sales to the CMDRF,” Bijibal says.