It was the year 2013, and sometime in October, when during a brainstorming session, the idea of Karachi Children’s Art Fest (KCAF) came into being. The idea had its root for a while in my head, especially since my brief time in USA for a training program, where I first got the chance what a real Museum looks like and the impact it can have. Since then, the feeling that something better needs to exist for kids has always been stuck in my head – in other words, the idea that I deserved something better as a kid never left me.
It was therefore in a sudden fit of excitement that KCAF was established. It was a collaboration of ArtChowk The Gallery, TBYU (my little initiative) and Spaces Gallery. In this country which is already tormented by tons of incidents of terrorism, violence – both ethnic and religious, lack of infrastructure, it comes as no surprise that we provide no spaces for kids to nurture their creative faculties. We have almost no Museums (the ones that we do have and what they do contribute is a topic for yet another day). In the absence of all this, how is it that we are to expect anything from the generations to come? KCAF therefore is a response to the lack of spaces. It is a platform to allow kids to connect with art and colors, and things which allow us to open our minds to new things and possibilities and be fascinated by it. KCAF 2014 was not a great hit, but it was a step – a very tiny one at that, but enough to tell us that this is a need, which we need to continue taking. With almost 5 thousand people attending the event over a course of two days, where everything was made free to the public, it was a venture that needs a lot of support still. So what does KCAF 2015 holds for the city? More on that soon.
As a stroke of luck would have it, I randomly came across the website of CIMAM and with it, a travel grant for the conference to be held in Doha, I apply and I actually get in!
The title for this year’s Conference was “Museums in Progress: Public interest, private resources?”
And what was the most interesting for me with regards to this title was how the issues for the 1st world and the 3rd world differed within the same umbrella. For three days, people from all over the world debated on the subject matter and while it is my personal opinion that such debates in most cases doesn’t yield an answer, but the approaches and the case studies are always a ground for something to learn.
“What is public interest today?” was the topic for the debate for Day 1. And while the subject matter may sound simple enough, there are so many questions and complexities that come under this subject matter.
Day 2 was spent on discussing “Building institutions in the African and the Middle East Contexts” and this is for me when the conference really got interesting and the vast difference between the understanding of the 1st world and the 3rd world quite apparent.
The conference was concluded on the 3rd day after a great debate on “Private to public, public to private: what are the new professional practices?”. Some of the most wonderful points of the conference were raised here, and a need for regulations was highlighted after drawing many a parallels between art and many other fields.
There is no doubt that a lot of important questions were raised and in each of our own context, the solution or the application of new models need to be revisited. Over the next couple of days, I will be bringing the many talks and discussions over to this forum and share the many problems and concerns and my own analysis with you.
I look forward to your input in this argument.