Corporates need to give more to art

Dated: January 05, 2015

Kochi-Muziris Biennale 2014 represents a “sea change” and “art and social responsibility go hand in hand”, says JSW Chairperson Sangita Jindal

Kochi, Jan 5: “The biennale has evolved, from the last edition to the current one, there has been a sea change,” says Sangita Jindal, the Chairperson of the JSW Foundation, who was visiting the main Aspinwall House venue of the Kochi-Muziris Biennale earlier today.

Deeply impressed by the curatorial exposition of the Biennale, Jindal says, “it is extremely well organised, where a curator like Jitish Kallat is absolutely inevitable. There are many many artists here which we Indians do not know about. Therefore, it is a sea of information for patrons and art lovers alike.”

Referring to her initial impressions, Sangita, who was on a day-long tour of the Biennale here in Kochi, said, “It has been a fabulous experience — in fact, everything about it and the area around it.” Jindal is the wife of Sajjan Jindal, the Chairman and Managing Director of the JSW (Jindal Steel Works) Group.

When asked about the correlation of art and social consequence, Jindal said the country was faced with a number of “burning problems”, such as the lack of adequate “drinking water and sanitation”, and the artist was, therefore, involved in what she described as “thinking aloud”. “Today we are talking of Swachch Bharat and toilets. You need both — art and social responsibility to go hand in hand.”

Referring to stereotypes about “investing in art”, Jindal said there were “people who wonder why we spent time or money on an artist’s exhibition or a biennale. It’s like an Indian thaali — we need it all.”

Jindal, whose foundation organised ‘Abhisaran’ ('Convergence'), a 3-week long residency programme in November 2014, to create a forum where artists from the subcontinent sought to interact and create art inspired by the historicity of Hampi and Vijayanagar. “Artists play a great role in societal transformation,” she asserted. “Their impressions leave a mark on our minds, leading us into a new world.”

Corporates have a key role to play in art, although the budgetary allocation for art is rather miniscule, Jindal said, when asked about how companies or corporations, in the context of corporate social responsibility, connect with art and its promotion. “You see we have an allocation of 2 percent in terms of our CSR budget. Out of the 2 percent, nearly 85 percent goes into hospitals, development of women and children, vocational training, or skills development. Out of the remaining, it is only a meagre .5 percent that professionals or corporate give to art.”

Corporates need to give more to art, Jindal pointed out, saying, “whatever corporates give or have given is very little when compared to the whole.”

Referring to the often “misplaced criticism” about her own foundation’s “spending on art instead of on hospitals”, Jindal said, “99 percent of our contributions are towards worthy causes,” adding, “only a little bit is given to art platforms and that is a way of evolution.”

CB

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