By Sonali Desai

In the vicinity of the Gandharva hall, there lies a dream of many artists of Belgaum who are still waiting to display their work in the art gallery.
Rs 1.5 crore was allotted to build the art gallery four years ago, the construction of the ground floor has been completed but the Kannada and Culture dept. claim that they cannot rent it out to the artists unless the construction of the first floor is also completed. The dept. also informed that they have sent a proposal in January to the govt. for the release of Rs 30 lakh more, which will be used for the construction of the first floor.

“We have sent a proposal to the govt., soon after the money is released we will start the construction of the first floor,” said K H Chennur, Assisstant Director, Kannada & Culture dept.

When asked why the artists aren’t given the ground floor which is already built to conduct art exhibitions, he said, “We want to finish the entire work and then rent it to the artists because once they start using it, the first floor construction will disturb the ground floor’s activities.”

He also informed that only one portion of the building will be used as art gallery, and the entire building will be more like a ‘cultural complex’ which would incorporate a media centre, a photo exhibition, and the other sections are yet to be decided.

“On the lines of art galleries constructed in Hubli, Dharwad, Mysore and Bangalore, even Belgaum Art gallery would have the same facilities; I have worked in the dept. in Dharwad I know how an art gallery is formed. Within another six months we will start activities in the gallery,” said Chennur.

Artists in Belgaum were happy when it was announced by the then DC Dr Shalini Rajneesh but after her transfer this project was delayed for years.

V V Guggari, one of the well-known artists in the city also approached the dept regarding the same; he was sent back saying, “Mr Chennur told me that they are trying to decrease the rent amount and when they decide on the final rent price they will announce it. At Venkatappa gallery in Bangalore they charge Rs 150 only for a day.”

There are several issues attached to this art gallery, and another one was pointed out by a senior most Internationally-acclaimed artist from Belgaum, Chandrakant Khusnoor. “If they are constructing an art gallery they should form a non-official committee, let the officials handle the monetary matters but they should take advice from the artists. They should form the committee now, not two days before the inauguration. There are many paintings in Bangalore that have not been exhibited anywhere, we can bring them and exhibit here and also put up some local artists work,” said Khushnoor.