People power: how Mumbai’s largest art festival is supported by crowdfunding
Launched in 2014, PhotoSparks is a weekly feature from , with photographs that celebrate the spirit of creativity and innovation. In the earlier 440 posts, we featured an art festival, cartoon gallery, world music festival, telecom expo, millets fair, climate change expo, wildlife conference, startup festival, Diwali rangoli, and jazz festival.
Held in Mumbai early every February, the Kala Ghoda Arts Festival (KGAF) has kicked off its 21st edition. See Part I of our coverage here, as well as our earlier articles on the festival editions of 2019, 2018, and 2017.
“The festival is a great showcase for emerging artists. It provides inspiration and validation to their creative journeys,” explains festival coordinator Nicole Mody, in a chat with YourStory.
A large part of the festival programming is dedicated to youth and children. While there is a representation of art from across the country and overseas, the bulk of the festival features the creative communities of Mumbai, Nicole adds. “It means a lot for emerging artists to be featured in the booklets and booths, and engage with other artists,” she enthuses.
A number of art and design institutes have partnered with the festival, such as Pearl Academy, Balwant College, Rachana Sansad Academy of Architecture, and JJ School of Art. There is a wide range of creative workshops at the festival, from candle-making to kick-boxing.
Several suggestions are also coming in for next year’s edition of the festival. “My folder for 2021 already has over a hundred email messages, but I will look at them all later,” Nicole jokes.
A unique feature of this year’s festival is the crowdfunding campaign conducted via Ketto.org by the festival organisers, Kala Ghoda Association (KGA). “Despite the economic downturn, the festival is carrying on,” Nicole proudly says. The festival is free for all attendees, and this year’s crowdfunding truly makes it a festival by and for the people.
“The festival was started for the people and it has grown with them, and now, we wish to keep this legacy alive with their support,” said Maneck Davar, Honorary Chairman of KGA. People who contribute Rs 5,000 or more are to be included in the Contributors' Photo Wall at the festival.
KGA has worked extensively for the restoration of iconic structures in Mumbai, such as the Elphinstone College building, Cama Hall exteriors, garden of the David Sassoon Library, and the Ruttonsee Muljee Jetha water fountain.
While there is no single cross-cutting theme at the festival this year, the overall messages are of unity in diversity, environmental conservation, and urban communities. “Climate change and the campaign against single-use plastic are represented in many instances. So also is the importance of human connections at a time when isolation is increasing,” Nicole explains.
The larger outdoor venues at KGAF are Rampart Row and Cross Maidan in South Mumbai. There are other indoor neighbouring venues as well, such as Jehangir Art Gallery, NGMA, David Sassoon Library, and Max Mueller Bhavan.
“This festival is a way of giving back to the people and the city of Mumbai. For their love and support, we thank the artists, exhibitors, office goers, local residents, traffic police, attendees, and all the people of Mumbai,” Nicole signs off.
Now, what have you done today to pause in your busy schedule and support the creative community in your own city?
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