Jaipur lit blockbuster forced to look at economics

Jaipur, Jan. 24: The Jaipur Literature Festival is in the red so far this year after making a marginal profit in 2012. Despite the event's profile and popularity, three sponsors have walked out "at the last moment", the organisers said.

"The (three) sponsors claimed they would not be able to spare funds because of the recession," festival producer Sanjoy Roy said. "Our expenditure this time is close to Rs 5.8 crore but we have been able to raise only Rs 3.97 crore."

Still, the event will not be scaled down. "It's too late now (to make changes). We shall have to go with the arrangements," Roy said.

Festival director William Dalrymple, the moving force behind the show, hinted at the possibility of reviewing the model. "With our kind of profile, it's a shame that we are not earning a profit," Dalrymple said. "The economic downturn is definitely a reality but that cannot be an excuse for the lack of profit. We need to have a re-look and, maybe, appoint a dedicated team to draft in sponsors."

The festival started out in 2006 as a segment of the Jaipur Heritage International Festival, with 18 writers and just a few hundred visitors. In 2008, it broke away from the heritage fest. About 100 authors took part and some 2,500 spectators came.

The crowds have been growing ever since, with a footfall of 1.22 lakh last year.

In 2008, the budget was Rs 1.2 crore ' about a fifth of this year's. The title sponsor is DSC Limited, which has been associated with the fest since 2008 and has a 10-year contract with it.

DSC primarily deals in construction and built the Jaipur-Delhi Expressway. It started out with a commitment of Rs 20 lakh, the volume of its contribution increasing by a certain percentage each year. In 2012, DSC gave Rs 1 crore and this year the amount has increased by a few more lakhs.

"There have been other offers for title sponsorship. I cannot take their names till we sign a deal. We shall have to renegotiate our deal with DSC because we would need much more now," Roy said.

Last year, the fest made Rs 5.4 crore, registering a slender profit with the total expenditure standing at Rs 5.2 crore.

Almost the entire earning comes from sponsorships, with the sale of festival merchandise by the organisers accounting for a small proportion.

Entry to the festival and the literary sessions is free. For the past few years, the organisers have been charging tickets for the evening musical performance.

At Diggi Palace ' the fest venue that comes free of cost because its management is among the sponsors ' space is given to ethnic brands to sell their ware. The spectators pay for their own food.

The organisers have to spend a sizeable sum on authors, paying for their air tickets, accommodation and food during their stay in Jaipur. The authors come from around the globe, including Latin America and Africa. Also, over time, the team of officials working on the festival has expanded, increasing the expenditure.

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