VAG: Artists agree to ‘joint inspection’

A meeting of the protesting artists against the private adoption of Venkatappa Art Gallery (VAG) with the ministers and officials concerned on Thursday at Vidhana Soudha saw heated exchanges.

The artists representing the VAG Art Forum — headed by Sheela Gowda — demanded cancellation of the MoU between the state government and Tasveer Foundation – the proposed private stakeholder of the gallery. The forum had another suggestion: the government could pump in funds for the gallery rejuvenation and then hand it over to the artists for further maintenance. But that did not find too much support either.

Nothing concrete emerged out of the meeting and finally, going by BJP leader Jagadish Shettar’s suggestion, everybody agreed to a joint inspection of the gallery. The 90-minute meeting also saw high-decibel arguments which prompted tourism minister R V Deshpande to tell the artists: “Don’t get so emotional, we can discuss it in a calm manner.”

He tried to pacify the agitated artists by saying that the project involves multiple stakeholders including citizens, whose opinion is very important.

When an artist objected to the presence of another artist who was pro-adoption and threatened to walk out of the meeting, Despande said: “In a democracy, multiple views have to be looked at. You cannot leave the meeting just because somebody is not agreeing with your view.”