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Art foundation eyes corporate funds

Yusuf Begg | July 16, 2004

Bangalore-based philanthropic organisation, India Foundation for the Arts, believes that money should be pumped into the process of creativity and not just the end product.

"Most governments give awards to the product end of the spectrum. We try to nurture the creative process of an artist by giving grants that will help him to sustain the initiative," says Anmol Vellani, executive director, IFA.

For an organisation, which is more than a decade old, the IFA is thinking of innovative ways to raise money.  One of the methods that the organisation is thinking of employing is to join hands with the Mumbai-based Himalaya Art Gallery. The tie-up will involve raising money through an auction of a clutch of canvases on the theme of communal harmony.

The idea being explored is to digitally enlarge these canvases and make prints out of them. These prints would then be put up on hoardings in Mumbai.

The IFA is scouting for corporate sponsorship for the whole process. "Our aim is to bring art out of the galleries and introduce it into public spaces," says Vellani. The organisation also wants to get into online auction of art to increase its corpus.

"Though we have a strong funding base, we need to find innovative methods to raise money," says Vellani. Since its inception in 1993, the IFA has supported 115 projects in 17 states with a total commitment of Rs 6.2 crore (Rs 62 million).

It lives on grants from Sir Ratan Tata Trust, Indian Bank, Ford Foundation, Rockefeller Foundation and Bhoruka Public Welfare Trust. The VST Industries provides the seed funding.

Over the years, the IFA has been holding cultural events to raise money. Last week, the organisation brought two plays to the capital. IFA officials say that the event managed to raise Rs 10 lakh (Rs 1 million), with Rs 100,000 as profit for the organisation.

For the time being, the IFA's activities are grouped under five main programmes: arts research and documentation, theatre development, arts collaboration, arts education and special grants.

"Projects under the special grants may bring in the corporates," feels Vellani. Under this programme the IFA wants proposals from artist communes and institutions that would help them become self-reliant.

"Corporates can bring in expertise as well as sponsorship. For instance, we're looking at groups of filmmakers who would want to hold an alternative festival. The 'public-ness' of such events would reflect on the sponsors," adds Vellani. He says that corporates prefer to sponsor art events "because they don't get tax rebates by supporting art organisations".

But more than anything else, the corporate mindset has to change. "Support is a long-term investment. We would act as consultants or partners in helping corporates to choose what art to sponsor," he says.


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