Artists blow the whistle on gallery `selloff’

PDFMarch 21st Artists blow the whistle on gallery `selloff’

Mar 21 2016 : The Times of India

Last time when they wielded their brushes and chisels, it was not just a creative expression but meant to register their strong protest against the government. On Sunday too, the decision to hand over Venkatappa Art Gallery (VAG) to a private party brought over 100 Bengaluru artists under one umbrella. They literally turned whistleblowers to drive home the message that the move is nothing short of a scandal.

The protesters waved black umbrellas pinned to which were VAG tags and broke into whistles at regular intervals. The protest was part of a series of demonstrations being staged by the Venkatappa Art Gallery Forum, backed not just by artists for whom the gallery is home but also those in the fields of theatre, film and literature.

“This is not the first time we are fighting for public space. The government forces us to come to the streets every time. Signing the MoU to wash its hands of VAG was the ultimate move. But don’t they understand that a government art gallery caters to people who cannot afford private galleries. Art never gives money back. It’s a social responsibility but the government considers it a burden. The gallery caters to the rural set-up and ideally should be with the cultural department and not tourism as it is now,“ film director TS Nagabharana said.

Contemporary artist Sheela Gowda said: “This is the only space which is democratic and open to all.We are not against museums but we want VAG to remain the common man’s gallery .“ The forum wants the government to scrap the MoU and take the initiative to set up more government galleries in ev ery district.