Maya Sharma | NDTV | March 23, 2016
Bengaluru: The Venkatappa Art Gallery in Bengaluru, named after a leading 20th century court artist during the reign of the Mysuru maharajas, has found itself the focus of attention today.
The state government has signed an agreement with the private Tasveer Foundation to develop and run the Gallery for the next 10 years, and many members of the artist community are shocked at this idea.
There have been a series of protests against the move – and more are planned. At the Town Hall on Sunday, black umbrellas, whistles, posters were all in evidence as artists gathered to protest against what they see as the appropriation by a private party of a government art gallery. The government will continue to own it – but the artists are livid.
Artist Pushpamala N told NDTV, “We are completely against the taking over of our only public art space, Venkatappa Art Gallery, by a corporate. It is not just a benign public-private understanding. It is going to be a complete take-over by the Tasveer Foudation where the land is going to be used for rebuilding. A new building will come up. And the private collection of Abhishek Poddar and the Tasveer Foundation will be housed over there. So the artists of the state for whom the Venkatappa Art Gallery has been built will have absolutely no access to the place and it will become a wine and cheese place.”
Artist Sheela Gowda said, “The Venkatappa Art Gallery has been given over to a private enterprise to have their private museum. We are against this move and we feel it cannot happen because Venkatappa is our space. It has a history.”
Speaking to NDTV, Abhishek Poddar of the Tasveer Foundation said private funds would cover the more than Rs. 10 crores it would cost to upgrade the gallery and construct new buildings and that it was a philanthropic exercise.
A public note issued by his Foundation to clarify the situation asserted that plan was not in the realm of privatisation nor is it a takeover.
The matter has also turned political with opposition leaders accusing the government of selling out – the gallery has a prime location in the central business district. This isn’t the last we have heard on this issue.