India’s flailing economy has affected the fortunes of at least two major literature festivals. According to email seen by Scroll.in, the Mumbai edition of the Times Literary Festival, scheduled for December 13 to 15, has been called off.
The Hindu Lit for Life, which should have been held in January 2020, has, according to the organisers, been postponed to the 2020-’21 financial year.
Both the festivals cite the lack of sponsorship as the reason. According to email from the organisers of the Times Litfest to invited participants who had confirmed their attendance, “...despite herculean efforts, on account of a seriously floundering economy, no sponsors are available and that we have been asked to call off the event for this year”.
This email went out over the past two days.
A few weeks ago, the organisers of The Hindu Lit For Life had mailed invitees stating, “There is no opportunity at this juncture also to get a commitment of sponsorship amounts from our marketing and events teams as companies outside appear to be reeling under the current economic climate and have no money to spare for other people’s events.”
While the Mumbai edition of the Times Litfest 2019 has been cancelled altogether, The Hindu Lit for Life organisers are hopeful of being able to reschedule their event. “We are hoping to do the festival in early April in the new financial year when corporate sponsors could well come forward to pitch in with the festival,” their email said. “Our teams assure us that they can garner enough support in the next financial year even as it begins.”
According to information available at this time, the Delhi edition of the Times Literature Festival Delhi will be held as scheduled on November 30 and December 1. However, there are no indications of the Kolkata edition – which was held as a one-day event on November 25, 2018 – being repeated. The Bengaluru edition is normally held in February, and is thus not due till February 2020.
Said Bachi Karkaria, co-director, Times Litfest Mumbai, “Given the economic downturn, it was not economically feasible to host the Times Litfest at the scale and standard to which we had built it. Hopefully, we’ll be back next year.”
Added Namita Devidayal, co-director of the festival, “We feel terrible about this situation, especially given that the Litfest has grown into one of Mumbai’s most beloved festival of ideas.”
There has been some speculation in literary circles about the feasibility of attracting sponsors for the numerous literature festivals that are held around the country in light of the economic downturn. With two large festivals now acknowledging the impact of reduced corporate spending, there is concern over the fate of other major festivals as well.
The Tata group, which backs two major festivals – Tata Literature Live! in Mumbai and the Kolkata Literary Meet – appears to have decided to continue backing these events. Tata Literature Live is scheduled to take place from November 14 to 17, and the Kolkata Literary Event, from January 22-26, 2020.