Sikkim has witnessed the first ever association for musicians and artists come to life in OMAS. Here is what you need to know about it.
OMAS or Organization of Musicians and Artists started in a very unusual way. It started through a post in facebook which was about the current music scene here in Sikkim. Thanks to facebook, the post went viral. A lot of people started complaining about the difficulties and hardships faced by them during their entire journey.
Generally, taxi drivers have their own association, students, the employed, unemployed people; almost every stratum has their own union. The question arose, where is the union for all the artists and musicians? Eventually, words turned to actions and the first general meeting was held with only 20 members being present. After a lot of discussions and brainstorming, keeping in mind that OMAS was all about the artists, we decided to go forward with the name and idea of OMAS. It would be fair to point out that OMAS has nothing to do with politics.
OMAS comprises of a sizeable musician population across the length and breadth of Sikkim. But, the driving force behind the functioning of OMAS are people such as Tshering Wangchuk Lepcha, Sonam Gyaltsen Bhutia, Tseten Lhamu, Sapant Pradhan, Robin Gurung, Neha Pradhan (Alive), Mahesh Niroula (Silver), Diwash Rai (Crystal and the Witches/Flashflood), Siddhartha B Gurung (Flashflood/Damagera) among others.
OMAS has been formed with the main objective of supporting local artists in various disciplines of art and creativity. OMAS aims to provide adequate support for all the artists in the state. More often than not, we see an acute lack of resources or guidance in our field. OMAS plans to rectify that by arming all the creative people with the required guidance and exposure and making them well aware of the leading trends in their respective fields. Finally, the biggest problem faced by almost every upcoming artist around the world is inadequate financial support. So, financial support is also a must.
It is always a difficult task trying to explain to the society about what we as artists do. All they expect is their kids to finish their school, get a graduation degree, get a govt. job and then settle down. So, one of the objective is also, to make the general public realise that it is not just a hobby but can be chosen as a career-path and it can be a source of income like any other profession.
OMAS has now completed four months as a unit. Since its inception in late February, OMAS has successfully organized three general meetings, a rally, finished a short documentary about artists and musicians of Sikkim. OMAS has also supported various state and private initiated programs and workshops. In the near future, we are launching a compilation album which will also include music from folk musicians here. Focusing only on original music (independent artists/bands), this compilation album will feature only the artists of Sikkim with the sole purpose of promoting all the hidden local talents in the state. So far, we have received 8 entries for this compilation and we are constantly urging artists/musicians to send their stuff across and be a part of it. OMAS will bear all the necessary expenses for the recording. We also plan on releasing a short documentary featuring various artists i.e. veteran musicians, fashion designers, sculptors, painters etc of Sikkim. We are also doing some regular rallies in different districts of the state followed by a musical show including art and photography exhibition etc. And lastly, there is a big annual festival being planned for the month of October.
The start has been good but a lot of hardwork lies ahead if we are to fulfil what we have set out to do.
by Hangso Wang
(Hangso is the bassist of Eyestill, a modern metal band from Gangtok, an active member of OMAS and a budding writer)