It was a lively discussion on challenges people face in procuring Public art grants for promotion of art and culture, at the Habitat Gulmohar Hall, for the Shanta Serbjeet Singh Memorial Art Appreciation lecture of the month, sponsored by Legends of India. Since government as the main art promoter in the country owns the largest kitty (however miniscule it may be in the overall percentage of the total budget reserved for culture), it was but right to have representatives of government bodies dealing in art matters, as the main speakers for the evening.
With Suresh Goel, the permanent moderator for these lectures being unwell, Rajiv Chandran, at the last moment was asked to take over and he began by asking each of the speakers to first talk on what worked and what did not. Dr. Madhukar Gupta, a bureaucrat with a deep interest in the arts, now Additional Secretary with the Ministry of Heavy Industries after having served earlier in Tamilnadu and Rajasthan, set the discussion ball rolling by mentioning a very pertinent point on how a lot of government thinking perceives development as best represented in establishing brick and mortar edifices, without realising that software like good art performances can generate better responses, apart from having an economic potential that has not been tapped. Even when visitors look at a historical building, it is a live performance or an audio visual show that helps bring to life the monument.
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