The Delhi Photo Festival has received a mail / petition circulated on Change.org questioning the cost structure and rationale behind the Workshops being conducted by us and by other independent organizations, like Magnum, who are conducting their own workshops to coincide with the Festival. The petition seeks to put forth an argument that workshops need to be made available free of cost.
In the interests of an informed discussion on the same here is our point of view:
1. Most, if not all, photo festivals around the world, irrespective of the sponsorships they receive, depend on some fees for covering their costs. In contrast, at the Delhi Photo Festival almost all of its educational events, like the artist talks, seminars, lectures, panel discussions and exhibitions, that benefit the larger public are absolutely free. Only those specific workshops and portfolio reviews that benefit individual participants are subject to a fee.
Please note that the selection for these specific workshops and portfolio reviews is purely on merit, based on open call for submissions.
2. Sponsorships of the Delhi Photo Festival do not cover all costs of the Festival. Workshops and portfolio reviews are chargeable, not to make profit, but to cover part of the costs of the workshops and pay honorariums to workshop instructors who are entitled to the same.
3. The Delhi Photo Festival and none of its partners are funding or sponsoring the Magnum workshops. Magnum Photos is an independent and hugely respected co-operative of photographers that is conducting an independent workshop to coincide with the Delhi Photo Festival. Magnum workshops are held the world over on chargeable basis and what they are doing in India is not new. They are entitled to charge a fee to cover their costs and finance their many non-profit initiatives. For more information on Magnum’s non-profit work please visit http://magnumfoundation.org. For information on a recent, more India specific initiative please visit http://www.videovolunteers.org/community-journalists-turn-photographers/
4. The Delhi Photo Festival also does free workshops for those that really need them. The ongoing Delhi Photo Festival – Habitat Learning Centre workshop for marginalised slum youth, which is already in its second month, and which will result in an exhibition at the Festival is proof of that. This workshop is conducted by the Delhi Photo Festival Secretariat on a voluntary basis. The same was also held in the first edition of the Festival in 2011.
5. The Delhi Photo Festival is and will remain a non-commercial venture as much as Nazar Foundation is a non-profit Trust.
We feel that for a reasonable and rational discussion on the issue of free education, a distinction needs to be made between what is in the public good and what benefits professional individuals. And, in a country like ours, an even more important distinction needs to be made between who is truly needy and who is not.
– Delhi Photo Festival Secretariat.