New building at Arts Council to ease ‘space race’ among artists

Published: November 17, 2012

KARACHI: 

The city’s artists have more room to show off their talent as a new block is being built at the Arts Council.

The block, which costs Rs120 million, will comprise a six-storey building and is expected to open by May, 2014. Governor Dr Ishratul Ebad Khan performed the groundbreaking ceremony on Thursday.

Since the turn of the century, the number of art galleries in the city has burgeoned – there are now over 30 across the city. Last month, Christie’s head of sales for modern and contemporary Indian art visited Karachi and said that she was impressed by the city’s art scene. Nevertheless, the country’s artists have much more to offer as some of their work still cannot find space. The president of the Arts Council of Pakistan’s Karachi chapter, Muhammad Ahmed Shah, said that the organisation has only one auditorium which is already booked for a year. The new building at the Arts Council will house an exhibition hall and art gallery on its first floor as well as a hall spread over 6,000 square feet to display artwork.

Pirzada Masroor Raza, a member of the Arts Council who designed the new building, said “We have paintings and artwork of Pakistani artists, which they donated to the Arts Council. Those paintings and artwork will get space after the building is completed.”

The building will also house academies of music and performing arts in its basement and an auditorium at the ground floor that can hold up to 270 people. Raza told The Express Tribune that the new block will also have an audio visuals and reference library which will be packed with books on art and provide new artists to valuable learning resources.

“On the third floor, there will be film and television studios. On the fourth floor, we might build accommodation for foreign dignitaries who come to Karachi to attend different art and literary functions,” said Raza. “Right now they stay in hotels, but they will have a lounge inside the new block where they can relax, share their experiences and have a good time.”

Speaking to media at the groundbreaking ceremony, the governor said that the new block was a much needed addition to the mushrooming art scene of the city, given the dearth of space for emerging artists to showcase their talent.

Published in The Express Tribune, November 17th, 2012.

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