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How an expression space is dealing with lockdown

Even though most workplaces have been able to transition into using online platforms, it has not been easy for artistes and owners of cultural spaces, who depend on live performances. Mansee Shah Thard, co-founder of Lahe Lahe, one of Bengaluru’s popular expression spaces, has put considerable thought into creating a secure, meaningful online platform for artistes and engaging with audiences in an effective way, while also making events as commercially viable as possible.

Their most sought after events: Write Out Loud, a poetry session held every Tuesday, and Music Jam, held every Wednesday, will continue. “For online, we have envisioned Music Jam as an open mic kind of a jam where everyone can sing or play an instrument or both and you have a musically-inclined audience to share your music with.” Mansee says she has continued both the events because they are their longest-running events. “Over time both the Write Out Loud and Music Jam communities have become family for us.”

Another issue Mansee has addressed is that of app security. The privacy and security issues of Zoom, in particular, has been of concern. “We use Zoom once in a while. We use an Indian app, Airmeet quite often. For both Zoom and Airmeet, we don’t share the link on our social media pages. You have to register on a phone number we share and then we send the link. We also have hosts monitoring the events for security. The only issue with Airmeet is that when a person performs, other people can see her or him, but the performer cannot see the reactions of the other people. In Airmeet, open mics and speaker-driven events such as storytelling can be easily held.”

Another innovation Mansee has come up with is pottery clay and videos on demand. “Children need to be gainfully engaged, so this works for them. Depending on your location (Dunzo delivery availability), we provide terracotta clay. You can log onto our Lahe Lahe pottery page on Instagram and we also send Whatsapp tutorials. Children can follow the instructions but the creation is left to the child’s imagination. You can even reuse the clay. A mother had once put up a video on Facebook of her toddler and seven-year-old child’s clay creations. That motivated us a lot. Also working with clay has a meditative quality to it, so adults enjoy it as well.”

For those grappling with anxiety or other issues due to lockdown, Lahe Lahe presents Sharing Circle. “People are facing all kinds of problems: financial stress, anxiety of not being able to go out, health issues, not knowing how to cook, boredom, anxiety. Different people have their own coping mechanisms. So people can come together and share their stories. The first circle will be a generic circle and going forward, we will have themes, if required. We plan to host this every Thursday till we are in lockdown. It is a free event but registration is a must.”

As for ticketed shows, Mansee says: “You can pay as you like or the rates will be slightly lower than what Lahe Lahe usually charges.”

On April 15, from 7.30 pm to 9.30 pm, Music Jam will be held on Airmeet (DM 9886294444 to register) and from 7 pm to 8 pm, a panel discussion ‘Navigating your business through a pandemic’ will be held. Piyush Agarwal, founder of 91Growth Consulting, will host the panel. Tickets are available on Sharing Circle will be held on April 16 from 7.30 pm to 9.30 pm on Airmeet (9886294444 to register), on April 18 Stories from the Mahabharata, an endeavour by Aparna Jaishankar to recreate an interest in this epic, will be held. For ticket booking call or Whatsapp at 9886294444.

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