Art and Culture Richa Agarwal on her promise to promote art
Since the opening of the doors, the Kolkata Center for Creativity and Emami Art have satisfied the appetites of the city’s art lovers with their robust, extensive and inclusive programming. From exhibitions to art fairs, interactive sessions to performances and more, both spaces have delivered on their promise to engage with the arts in ways that often open doors and lead us to the unexpected. The pandemic couldn’t deter them and only made them more determined in their effort to make art more accessible. And at the head of both, Richa Agarwal, President of the Kolkata Center for Creativity & CEO, Emami Art. In person, Richa is as warm and gracious as she is sincere in her goal of bringing good art to the city. “If you ever meet good artists and think they should come to Calcutta but you don’t have the opportunity to do so, you have to let me know and I will do my best,” he told me. she always says. His enthusiasm for having great artists and art both at KCC and at Emami Art is easy to see and the lineup in both spaces over the past three years has paved the way for things to happen. more exciting to come. In frank conversation, Richa looks back and forward too. Extracts:
Three years later, more to do. How do you feel?
When I look back it feels like it was yesterday. On November 21, 2018, the Emami Art Gallery first opened with an investigative Dashrath Patel exhibit and since then there has been no turning back. With several major exhibitions by talented emerging artists working with new concepts and experimental mediums as well as modern masters like Jogen Chowdhury, Ravinder Reddy, Bose Krishnamachari and most recently Kartick Chandra Pyne, over the past three years, Emami Art has evolved as one of India’s most active and multi-faceted modern and contemporary art galleries. It’s a proud moment for me.
What amazes me the most is that we have a fantastic, young and dynamic team that works together to bring out the best in what we have. November 21, 2021 marked the third anniversary of KCC and Emami Art. The organization celebrated the occasion as much as a moment of joy and accomplishment as well as a moment of determination and responsibility that they have many miles to go and much to accomplish soon.
How did you experience the pandemic? What were the biggest challenges and how did you overcome them?
The pandemic has been a difficult phase for all of us and for arts institutions around the world as well. However, at Emami Art and KCC, we have continued to set up online shows, events and exhibitions despite the pandemic. Instead of seeing new digital activities as an alternative to physical on-site activities, we explored them as an independent and unique means of aesthetic experience, entertainment and communication. Beyond the regional and the national, we have constantly tried to deepen our links with the international art world, interrupted by the pandemic.
Despite the restrictions related to the pandemic, I am extremely grateful for the overwhelming response from art lovers in and outside the city. Emami Art wishes to strengthen itself in the years to come, with a more extensive program and activities: exhibitions, publications, seminars, live conferences, etc. We sincerely cherish the love and support we have received and recognize the responsibility entrusted to us. We hope our initiatives create a domino effect in this post-pandemic world – shaping a better future with art, culture and creativity.
What areas make you proud of KCC and what would you like to work on more of?
The Kolkata Center for Creativity evolved around the same time, three years ago, and in a short time it has evolved into a vast, multidisciplinary and vibrant cultural space to promote culture and art. An organization with an open and inclusive cultural perspective, KCC moves forward with a vision and mission in mind – to build a culture that addresses glocal (global + local) concerns through art and creativity with a network of people-public-partnerships.
We have a wide range of new ideas and programs for the near future, integrating both digital and on-premise platforms. We hope to involve more people and creative organizations as partners through artistic practices, research, documentation, curation, exhibition and audience engagement. We wish to act as a catalyst to facilitate capacity building, which will help artistic professionals and emerging artists to create more innovative works informed by a more balanced worldview and help them achieve the goal KCC has in mind. .
(left to right) Rowan Ainsworth, Consul General, Australia; Richa Agarwal, President, Kolkata Center for Creativity; Jawhar Sircar, Member of Parliament, Rajya Sabha; Sushmita Basu Singh, RRitobak member and artist Prabir Krishna Deb, releasing the book on Deb’s illustrations at the opening of the exhibition on “Durga Puja at Shobhabazar Rajbari: A Tryst with History and Heritage” held September 25 to October 5 at the Kolkata Center for Creativity.
What can we expect from KCC for the foreseeable future?
The Kolkata Center for Creativity has flourished as a creative platform for the past three years. KCC promotes research and experimentation and defends inclusiveness and accessibility in the interface between the arts and society. With over 110 onsite programs and 120 online programs, KCC has successfully grown into a unique inclusive space for diverse audiences to mingle and exchange thoughts, ideas and aspirations in a very short time. All these elements and many more have contributed to the emergence of the KCC as one of the most important cultural institutions in the country.
It is inspiring to see the wide variety of important international, national and regional institutions and organizations that have shown keen interest and have joined us as collaborators or sponsors to support our projects. We also recently received support from Nazrul Tirtha and Biswa Bangla for KCC’s annual cultural festival, the AMI Arts Festival, also supported by Emami’s CSR initiative. There will be a delicious arts and crafts bazaar, music concerts, workshops, a series of virtual conversations and film screenings at the festival. Many other projects and initiatives are looming for the future.
Photos: Courtesy of KCC