The economic slowdown and recession are clearly visible across all sectors and industries, affecting businessmen and common folk alike. Now, the impact is being felt during religious festivals as well. Sunday, 29 September, marks the commencement of Navaratri, which is celebrated with pomp and splendour in Gujarat.
However, this time around, Garba organisers are finding it difficult to rope in sponsors for the nine nights of revelry, a cultural hallmark of Gujarat. According to the organisers, most businesses which were keen sponsors previously, do not have funds to spare on advertising at different Garba events spread across the state.
‘Cash Flow Has Dried Up’
The Quint spoke with Atrish Trivedi, an event manager in Ahmedabad, who said, “Sponsorship is a huge issue this time because everyone is hit by recession and the cash flow in the market is next to nothing. Earlier, we had sponsorship coming from telecom companies, builders, car and two-wheeler dealerships, but now it’s all dried up.”
The situation is similar across the state, Danny Nirvan, a Garba organiser in Surat, revealed to The Quint.
“The impact of recession is quite evident this year. It’s not that we have lost sponsors. For example, one Garba event has 50 sponsors which are retained each year; however, this year they have cut back on the funding. Earlier, they would pool in Rs 10 lakh each, this year it has dropped to Rs 3 lakh to Rs 5 lakh,” Danny said.
According to Trivedi, since there is no cash flow in the market, the main sponsors are resorting to barter to remain relevant. “In order to maintain relationship they (businesses) want to enter a barter agreement. For example, a two-wheeler dealer will not give money, instead will send some vehicles in the name of sponsorship. Since there is no cash flow, our sponsors are finding other routes to stay relevant.”
Even educational institutes like MICA where Garba is organised each year with much fanfare has adopted a barter policy.
“Yes, there are issues garnering sponsorship this year for the event. But MICA is focusing on small businesses which are yet to create an online or social media presence. We approach businesses offering with internal and external promotion like branding on passes and posters and vouchers against their products which are given away as awards and prizes,”Surabhi Gupta, MICA Student
New Guidelines & Inclement Weather
It’s not just sponsorship, the organisers are facing trouble due to new guidelines issued by the police department as well.
“Insurance is now compulsory, parking of vehicles is now much stricter with the implementation of MV Act, security and fire safety arrangements are now mandatory. We have to keep an ambulance and emergency services ready at hand and all these things add to the cost. Truth be told, insurance doesn’t really cover anything as they are only covering local liability, they are not covering fire safety, or inclement weather; basically the insurance companies are earning money for nothing.”Atrish Trivedi, Garba Organiser
He further added, “As it is, we are shelling out a lot for light, sound, stage and decor, which is paid in advance for all nine days and we can run into losses if the weather decides to turn on us as monsoon has still not ended. Once it rains, the event will wrap up, especially if it pours. To top it off, the government is implementing GST on the ticket price if the passes are over Rs 500. The government is more keen on collecting taxes before we can render any service.”
Rains have been battering most parts of Gujarat since Wednesday, 25 September, and the IMD has stated the weather will remain so till Tuesday, 1 October. The rains may spoil the party on the first three days of Navaratri.