KCC's chairperson Richa Agarwal charted a new digital roadmap for the city’s culture hub
The lack of a comprehensive space for all kinds of art, visual or performative, had led Richa Agarwal to gift the cultural capital of the country a 70,000 sq ft of mammoth structure that would serve as the nerve centre of all artistic and creative activities. Just as Indulge turns two, Kolkata Centre for Creativity (KCC) too completed a couple of years with aplomb. Last year, on our first anniversary, we had spoken with Richa about her future plans for KCC that included more interesting international collaborative art events and making art even more inclusive besides nurturing local talents.
Despite such an unprecedented crisis as the COVID-19-induced lockdown and subsequent economic slump, Agarwal has managed to keep most of her plans afloat, albeit the digital route. We had a chat with the silently gritty woman on how she discovered and tapped the immense potential that the digital space held in terms of nurturing art and creativity. Excerpts:
KCC is among the handful of galleries who have explored the online space extensively during these past few months. How has the digital journey been so far?
The experience has been wonderful and it’s still a great new adventure for us. KCC stands for Kolkata Centre for Creativity and talking about creative language and learning it and putting it to practice was challenging but extremely rewarding. It was great to see and feel a lot of positivity and energy and all our events and work are focussed around these positive learning. And we were amazed to discover a steady stream of an eager audience on our online space.
Both KCC and Emami Art have curated a variety of events in the digital space...
Emami Art had done mentorship programmes and organised three series of talks with 12 speakers from different parts of the world. To physically conduct an event of such scale would have been logistically very expensive besides coordinating the time of all the guests involved. But it turned out so smoothly in the digital space and we got the best in every field including Atul Dodiya, Nikhil Chopra, TV Santosh, Jagannath Panda and others. What worked in our favour was that we started our digital initiative pretty early — within 10 days of the lockdown — and it was a welcome change for the audience who were restricted within the confines of their homes. Then we also did a whole series on art films.
KCC also organised performing arts workshops for toddlers, senior people, performance events, musical events and sustainability events that had artists talking about their journey to entrepreneurship. KCC’s fine diner Grace arranged cooking workshops with chefs from Italy and Japan and The Gallery Store has done two online pop-ups so far. So we have essentially tried to organise a plethora of choices to cater to the varied tastes of our patrons.
How has the art world changed, according to you?
So far, people were always in a hurry but suddenly they had a lot of disposable time in hand to relax and enjoy and reflect upon what they see and observe. There’s a wave of new collectors for whom it’s not only the value and name of the artist that matter but also the quality of art. Globally, there’s an increasing demand for quality art irrespective of the fact whether they are contemporary or modern, expensive or inexpensive.
Which contemporary artists are doing well?
At KCC, we are seeing a great scope for the young artists (careerwise) like Anjan Modak, Soma Das, Anwar Chitrakar, Arunima Choudhury, all of whom are doing extremely well. Recently Anwar Chitrakar and Anjan Modak did full shows on the ongoing pandemic and we raised around `30 lakh that we donated to Ramkrishna Mission for Amphan relief fund.
What’s the plan for KCC going forward?
Definitely working in the online digital zone and discovering new opportunities. We will be continuing our digital drive with even greater force. Also, we just did this whole new online art festival called Ami Art just a week back, featuring 150 artists, 350-plus artwork, multiple workshops and performances that aimed at promoting, supporting, sustaining and creating opportunities for artists amidst these trying times.
Pictures: Siladitya Dutta