F E A T U R E – O R G A N I S A T I O N
Ayaan Shams Siddiquee
Founded in 2019, Jongshon is a collaborative hub of artists which promotes rising local artists — both solo and group. It aims to support those engaged in the fields of music, visual art, film, comedy, and more. It currently houses seven different projects, each working towards the enhancement of different fields.
Their most prominent project, Acoustica, is a platform which promotes musicians by arranging live music sessions featuring rising local musicians, selling their albums and merchandise, etc. Besides, they also host Nondon for visual art, Greenventures for promoting eco-friendly businesses and products, Scene-e Night for cinema and short-film screening, Fun-e Khan for stand-up comedy, Shobdo-Kolpo-Brikkho for literary ventures, and Udyog for showcasing SMEs and young entrepreneurs.
To ensure sustainability for each venture, Jongshon depended heavily on live, in-person shows. However, at the advent of the Covid-19 pandemic, they had to shift their activities online in regulation with the mandatory health protocols. Overall, they believe that this stunted their growth in the short-run somewhat. Jongshon’s founder, Pujan Biprotip, said,
“Obviously, doing shows online hampers the growth for the organisers and artists like us. Interaction with the audience and their feedback shapes our skills and develops performance too. Since most of the population of our country are not introduced to online shows adequately, we do not get enough appreciable response from them. That affects us pretty hard.”
However, they have been able to arrange a total of 8 shows across their platforms since their inception at different venues like Bangladesh Shilpakala Academy, StudioZen, Studio 6/6, etc. They have recently completed two shows under Acoustica in collaboration with EMK Centre. Local bands such as Abantor and Blue Periscope performed in the shows which were live-streamed on Facebook and YouTube. More shows from this collaboration will be back sooner than ever.
Upon being asked about their plans in the upcoming days, they said,
“As long as the pandemic induced lockdown is not dissipating, we will focus on online events. After widespread vaccination, we will put emphasis on offline events like live shows. Meanwhile, online activities will be running in full swing even though we will be stretched out to the most.”
Jongshon also acknowledges the multifaceted problems musicians and independent artists face in this day and age. They believe that the receding number of live shows and the thinning amount of independent labels and artist-friendly platforms makes it difficult for the artists to even survive, let alone strive.
“Reversing these factors, breaking the class barriers of artists and audiences through comprehensive measures, and bringing about innovations in services can play a big role.”
Besides, one of the most common problems faced by any up-and-coming artist, organisation, or business is boosting their organic reach on social media. Due to unsupportive algorithms being at play, ventures are less likely to gain exposure and a solid footing. Jongshon tries its best to aid the artists in this regard.
“We need to keep in mind that a well-endorsed online presence is necessary to exert influence on the general masses since tech is the future now. Organic interactions among artists and audiences are the core part of the ecosystem. We emphasise these through our events.”
Moreover, one of the most striking aspects of Jongshon’s live shows is their use of aesthetics in creating a welcoming ambience. Blending elements such as paintings, photographs, digital art, jewelleries, and handmade accessories into the backdrops generally make for a remarkable experience — which is exactly what Jongshon wishes to deliver.
Shafqat Amin Inan, a Nondon Artist, remarked,
“Getting my artworks displayed during Jongshon’s shows was just wonderful. The organisers were cooperative and friendly. It was an appreciable effort on their part to arrange such showcases for indie artists like myself. Exposure to like-minded people visiting the show would definitely make me a better artist in the future.”
Their project for entrepreneurs, Udyog, has, thus far, served as an excellent creative outlet for young entrepreneurs to showcase and promote their businesses. It is no surprise that small businesses were adversely affected by the wave of the Covid-19 pandemic. Jongshon weighed on the importance state and government initiatives reserve in supporting entrepreneurs.
“By coordinated efforts among the ministries, the government should introduce a certain policy which will integrate multiple systems to provide wider scopes to entrepreneurs. Upholding that spirit will reshape our socio-economic status, which is oh-so-necessary to keep up the presence of the budding entrepreneurs.”
“Govt. should throw out its post colonial hangover in order to do so. State facilitated events where local and international entrepreneurs can participate must be ingrained in that policy to develop the audiences which will help us in the long run.”
At the end of the day, Jongshon wants to achieve the benchmark to be called a holistic movement of art — a resonating art movement in Bangladesh’s cultural scenario. They believe that they possess all the right tools to do so and stand out. By being pocket friendly to the artists, eco-friendly in their ventures, and gender inclusive, Jongshon aims to expand and make a visible difference in the cultural sector of the country.
In this regard, Spacepiper, an Acoustica artist, believes,
“The cultural sphere is very monopolised to begin with and further backed by different investment institutions. For someone to showcase their culture, we need various initiatives similar to Jongshon to break the chain of corporate loopholes. In today’s world, we need less product placement and more culture to flourish. Hence, I believe more such events are a must.”
The writer is a part of TDA Editorial Team.