The West Bengal government has agreed to throw its weight behind the first-ever Calcutta Festival, scheduled for the second week of December.
Planned and promoted by the city-based Indian Chamber of Commerce (ICC), the weeklong festivities will showcase the rich cultural heritage of the city and promote Calcutta as a tourism hotspot and a destination for industrial investment.
“We discussed our plans with chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee earlier this month. He liked the idea and expressed the government’s willingness to be associated with the event,” said Vikram Thapar, president, ICC.
Chamber officials clarified that they were interested in involving the government for “proper branding” of the event, but would not urge Writers' Buildings to bear any financial burden.
At the next meeting with the government, the ICC will present the detailed plan, to be finalised this week. The Chamber secretariat has already drawn up a draft schedule of events to be organised during the festival and is exploring the possibility of roping in professional agencies to market it globally.
As per the draft plan, the theme — ‘From Calcutta to Kolkata’ — for the festival will be rediscovering the historical city “all set for a take-off into a future of opportunities”.
The roster of events for the December festivities will have a mega mix of business and leisure, claims the Chamber. So, a golf tourney, horse-racing, a musical night, an arts exhibition, a river cruise and a shopping bonanza will jostle with business conferences.
“To showcase Calcutta's rich life, we are seeking help from the government to transform Park Street or New Market into a complete pedestrian zone during the festival. To make the shopping festival a success, we will also be approaching the government to waive taxes during that period,” added Nazeeb Arif, secretary-general, ICC.
In a bid to make it “gala and global”, the Chamber is planning a series of roadshows abroad and extensive promotional campaigns. And to make the business meets meaningful, the ICC has already initiated talks with the consulates to arrange for industry delegations from a host of countries.
“This year, Calcutta is the theme of three international festivals in Naples, Berlin and London. We will promote our festival at these events,” added Arif. Chamber officials will also be present at the North American Bengali Conference to woo participants to town.