Fund crunch: No Kochi Muziris Biennale this year?

The state allocated a budget of Rs 5 crore for the Biennale’s sixth edition 2024-25.
Kochi-Muziris Biennale (KMB)
Kochi-Muziris Biennale (KMB)Photo | Express

KOCHI: The sixth edition of Kochi-Muziris Biennale (KMB), India’s largest contemporary art exhibition that was scheduled to be held later this year, is on the verge of being called off owing to severe financial crunch. The non-availability of venue has compounded the problem.

“Due to financial constraints and unavailability of venues, this year’s Biennale has been postponed,” a source close to the exhibition’s organising body told TNIE.

When contacted, KMB founder-president Bose Krishnamachari said, “We will be making an announcement soon regarding the next edition of the Kochi Biennale.”

This will be the first time that Kochi misses out on the event, which draws art lovers from across the nation and even abroad, due to reasons like lack of funds and venue. Barring in 2020, when its fifth edition had to be put off owing to the pandemic, the event has been held every two years in December since 2012. The fifth edition was held from December 23, 2022.

Though it is speculated that the historical Aspinwall House, which serves as a main venue of the Biennale, will be sold to the Coast Guard, the source said it was not the reason behind the decision not to host the Biennale.

“Talks about Aspinwall House being sold are not the reason for postponing the Biennale. While conceptualising the Biennale in 2010, Aspinwall House did not figure in discussions by the Kochi Biennale Foundation. If not Aspinwall House, the foundation will find another location,” said the source.

The state allocated a budget of Rs 5 crore for the Biennale’s sixth edition 2024-25.

Meanwhile, the source said Delhi-based realty firm DLF, which owns Aspinwall House, has been charging hefty amounts as rent for hosting the Biennale. “During the last edition, the firm demanded Rs 25 lakh per month as rent. The foundation ended up paying around Rs 1.5 crore to DLF,” said the source.

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