Artists to wage war against NAC

Kathmandu, May 11:

Loktantrik Lalit Karmi Sangharsa Samiti, an alliance of 20 organisations associated with fine arts, is all set to carry on protest programmes against ‘autocratic’ practices prevailing in the field of fine arts.

It has called an assembly of country’s artists on May 13 on the premises of the Nepal Art Council (NAC). The assembly will finalise the schedule of protest programmes. “We chose the Nepal Art Council premises to start off protest programmes because the Council has remained autocratic all through its history,” said Kiran Manandhar, coordinator of the Samiti. According to Manandhar, the assembly will give them artists’ mandate for the fight they will wage for the promotion of art and democratisation of art institutions in the country.

According to Shanta Kumar Rai, a senior artist, it all began due to Ranas’ passion for art in Babar Mahal. A room of Babar Mahal used to showcase replicas of world’s famous art works. After the downfall of Rana, king Mahendra convinced Lain Singh Bangel to come to Nepal. “In 1962, Nepal Art Council came into being for the promotion and development of art in the country. Kirti Nidhi Bista and Bangdel were made chairman and general secretary of the body,” Rai recalled. Bista, who was never an artist, is still the chairman of the council. “The council even does not allow membership to ordinary artists,” said Rai. He claimed that the incumbent members are handpicked.

The council gets Rs 2.5 lakh as annual budget. It also earns money by renting its hall for exhibitions. The council has never made it activities public, said artist Ranjan Kafle. “I don’t remember any annual general meeting held in over 20 years of my career,” Kafle said. The statute however mentions that AGM should be held every year. The council has not even published a single report till date. Manandhar said the artists will request the academicians to resign from the Art and Craft Department of Royal Nepal Academy to support their move. They will be demanding the removal of the word ‘Royal’ from the name of the academy immediately. “We are committed to continuing our movement till our goal is realised,” Manandhar said.

The artists have been demanding the foundation of a separate academy for fine arts for long. Apart from that, the artists have called for the autonomy of the National Association of Fine Arts (NAFA) and Nepal Art Council and introduction of Master in Fine Arts (MFA) degree in Lalitkala Campus.