Stalemate continues

April 1st, 2016 | The Hindu

But both sides agree to continue the discussion to break the deadlock

With angry exchanges and stubborn demands at Thursday’s meeting at Vidhana Soudha, the stalemate between artists and government departments over the handling of Venkatappa Art Gallery (VAG) continued.

Both sides did not budge from their positions, but came to an understanding to continue the discussions, which will include a joint inspection of the gallery.

For the first time, a group of artists, who have informally formed the VAG Forum, met political leaders and officials from the Tourism Department.

The meeting began on a stormy note with artistes refusing to budge from their demand of cancelling the memorandum of understan-ding (MoU). “The MoU is undemocratic and there is no compromise about scrapping it. We have given a point-by-point rebuttal, which the ministers promised to consider,” said Sheela Gowda, who is a part of the Forum.

On the other side, sources at the meeting said ministers objected to the form of protests, including throwing the MoU into a dustbin, which they felt was showing disrespect to a government document. “The MoU can always be re-written or a few points added, but the demand was to scrap the concept itself,” said a source at the meet.

Opposition backs artists

The artists’ points struck a chord with members of the opposition, including Leader of Opposition Jagadish Shettar, BJP MLAs Suresh Kumar, C.N. Ashwathnara-yana and JD(S) MLA Y.S.V. Datta, who said that the next round of discussions will be held during a spot inspection of VAG.

In a statement, Tasveer Foundation – which had not been invited for the meeting – said that work on the project and implementation of the MoU will continue only when artists are on board. “…For the sake of the visual arts, unless we have the total support of the artists community, we are extremely reluctant to start, not knowing what else may lie in store, and whether the negative sentiment will continue. This is ultimately up to the government to ensure.”