After making the surprising revelation that the seller of the star Tyeb Mehta lot in New York’s Indian art cycle was the Times of India group which has an in-house curator and is both testing the market as well as acquiring new artists, the Business Standard‘s star Kishore Singh makes a case for the Indian government to provide incentives for Indian companies to build the necessary infrastructure for India’s art establishment:
there are too few companies that actually invest in art. In any other country, companies of the size of Reliance (choose your brother and company) or Infosys or Bharti, would have made substantial endowments to art and culture, a practice that has yet to take off in India. Endowments encourage companies to contribute to the arts without having to run a programme themselves, but which they can appraise annually, or over designated periods of time, thereby ensuring that the money is dispersed in the manner agreed upon, based on which it can continue to either contribute or withdraw from further contributions.
In India, instead, companies like to take on the onus of running any arts programme themselves — often because the chief or a member of the family evince an interest in it. It is as a result of this that the Nadar-promoted HCL has built up a collection that it now wants to house in a museum in Delhi, the process for which is currently underway. Or there is sugar baroness Rajashree Pathy who wants to build a large arts institution in Coimbatore, including a university and a museum. Already, the Lekha and Anupam Poddar collection forms part of the Devi Art Foundation in Gurgaon. These and a few others have begun the process of corporatisation of art in India, but it is at present a pitiable effort, especially since government institutions have made almost no inroads into promoting a contemporary arts culture in the country.
It is a point worth making again that the great civilisations of the world were known for (or because of) their literature and architecture and art, and if we are to make any impact in the world — as China has — we cannot ignore this aspect for too long. Perhaps the time has come, then, for the government to ensure that the private sector spends at least a part of its annual budget on art, something it might willingly do only if there was an incentive in it for them.
Building Value (Business Standard)