KOCHI: The Kochi Biennale Foundation (KBF) on Friday welcomed the Kerala government’s allocation of five acres of land to set up a permanent venue for the Kochi-Muziris Biennale in recognition of its impact in popularising art. This is in addition to sanctioning of a working fund of Rs 2 crore for the Biennale for the 2017-18 fiscal year. Finance Minister Dr Thomas Isaac in his budget speech announced that the state government will acquire around five acres of land, including the current Biennale venues, Aspinwall House and the Cabral Yard in Fort Kochi, to create a permanent venue for the art event.
KBF president Bose Krishnamachari said he was heartened by the government’s confidence in the project, noting that Kerala is the only state to recognise the ‘soft power’ of art and culture. “Our prime aim is to make art and culture a part of our education system and we have been rolling out a number of initiatives to achieve it. The latest Budget allocation shows the confidence the state has in us and that is a great recognition,” he said. The budgetary provision is in line with Chief Minister Mr Pinayari Vijayan’s assurance at the inaugural ceremony of KMB 2016 in December that efforts were being made by his government to develop the Kochi event along the lines of the Venice Biennale. KBF secretary Riyas Komu said the move also reflects the perseverance of all stakeholders in proving to the government as well as the public that the Biennale is a celebration of art and culture that is worth promoting.
“In the current scenario of widespread funding cuts for such programmes, the Kerala government is setting an example by investing back into art and culture,” he said. “This is now 'People's Biennale'. A permanent venue had always been a dream; it will now become a reality. We also welcome the government’s commendable move to encourage artists by promising grants," he said. The state government had earlier allocated Rs 7.5 crore in the budget for the ongoing KMB, which is witnessing participation of 97 artists from over 31 countries. The third edition of the Biennale, which runs for 108 days, will end on March 29.