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Gallery scarcity costs art exhibition
- Lalit Kala Akademi pulls out show from Patna amid cries of regional bias

Patna, April 25: Lalit Kala Akademi has pulled out a national art exhibition to have been held in Patna next month, ostensibly because the Bihar capital lacks galleries fit to host such an event.

The 54th National Art Exhibition of Lalit Kala Akademi was scheduled to be held in Patna from May 3 to 23. But the academy, an autonomous body under the Union ministry of culture, decided to change the venue of the show at its executive board meeting on February 10.

Though no official confirmation was forthcoming, artists in Patna said the exhibition had been moved to Bangalore.

The acting chairperson of the academy, Balan Nambiar, who hails from Kerala but is based in Bangalore, was not willing to comment on the issue today when contacted over phone. “I am at a wedding at present and cannot speak to you today,” Nambiar told The Telegraph.

Officials at the Union ministry of culture said the last-minute change was owing to lack of infrastructure in the Bihar capital. “Patna simply does not have the galleries needed to host a national-level exhibition. The ministry fully endorses the chairperson’s decision,” said a senior officer.

The decision has triggered howls of protests from artists in Patna.

Birendra Kumar Singh, the secretary of Shilpi Sangh — a group of artists, said: “A copy of the decision is with us. Surprisingly the reason for cancelling the exhibition has not been mentioned. How can Lalit Kala Akademi cancel the exhibition without offering any reasons?”

Shrikant Pandey, a member of the academy’s executive board and representative from Bihar, told The Telegraph that regionalism could be the reason for the decision. He said: “Of the 15 members in the executive board, six are from the south. Perhaps that is the reason that the exhibition has been shifted from Patna.”

The budget for the exhibition on visual art is Rs 48.5 lakh. Pandey had initially put forward the proposal to organise the national exhibition in Patna. Former Lalit Kala Akademi chairperson Ashok Vajpei and the general council passed it on December 19 last year.

Pandey said he would stage a dharna in front of the Lalit Kala Akademi in New Delhi on April 27. “The next general council meeting of Lalit Kala Akademi would be held on April 27. Many artists of Bihar origin and even local artists from Delhi would stage a dharna outside the premises of the academy from 12noon on that day,” he said.

Artists in Patna, too, have decided to put their weight behind their colleague. Shyam Sharma, a former principal of College of Arts and Crafts, Patna, said: “I am absolutely against this decision of Lalit Kala Akademi. How can they take such a decision when they know very well that Bihar has not hosted a single national art exhibition so far?”


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