Bengaluru: No PPP, return Venkatappa Art Gallery to us, say artists

Darshana Ramdev | Deccan Chronicle | February 27, 2016

Bengaluru: The controversy surrounding the privatisation of Venkatappa Art Gallery hit critical mass on Friday, when a delegation of artists from the VAG Forum, led by Sheela Gowda, stormed the office of Tourism Minister R.V. Deshpande.

The artists demanded a complete cancellation of an MoU for a private-public partnership, saying that privatising an artist-led space like Venkatappa Art Gallery was completely uncalled for. “They’re returning to a method that has failed several times before, by asking the government to restore the gallery on its own,” said an outraged V. Ravichandar, the co-Chair of the Karnataka Tourism Vision Group.

“They are free to join the gallery’s Advisory Board and become part of the decision-making process,” he said. “People like Prakash Belawadi and Girish Karnad have expressed their support for the project. The word ‘tourist’ also doesn’t refer to foreigners, as they seem to think. As far as I’m concerned, the average Karnataka citizen is the tourist. The rest will follow.” Ravichandar added: “The government has taken the initiative of tabling the adoption programme and is admitting therefore, that private players are in a better position to put in the money. They have seen the writing on the wall, so why return to a vision that has failed repeatedly?”

Mr Deshpande handed out copies of the MoU signed between the government of Karnataka and the Tasveer Foundation. He also welcomed feedback from the artist community, telling them that they can put their objections across in writing, after which their concerns will be taken into consideration.

The Adopt a Destination plan has 46 tourist spots that will be given to corporates to maintain them as part of their CSR activity. Venkatappa Art Gallery will, if all goes according to plan, become the Museum of Art and Photography, overseen by the Tasveer Foundation, which belongs to prominent art collector and gallery owner Abhishek Poddar.