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KOCHI, KERALA : 02.03.2017

1.I am happy to bein Kochi today atthe latest edition of the Kochi-MuzirisBiennale.

2.TheBiennale,which is today known as the People’s Biennale,has become an integral part of the cultural calendar of our country. It has rejuvenated Kerala’s longstandingcontribution to visual artsand culture, and cemented Kochi’s status as acosmopolitan city brimming with potential and ideas.

3.Contemporary art is one of the most significant ways of expressing thoughts, emotions, concerns and ideas that are current, that are relevant to us in the time we live in. The fact that Kerala, this land of history and tradition, now hosts the largest show of contemporary art in the region, and that too a show that was seeded by government, speaks to the unique ways of this state and its people.

4.Kerala has always been known for its secular approach towards art and culture. The Kochi-MuzirisBiennale is a proud symbol of this approachand thesense of oneness and inclusivity that exists here.

5.TheKochi BiennaleFoundation has made a wonderful innovationinattemptingto use art to link the historic legacy of present-day Kochi withtherich cultural influences of its predecessorMuziris, a financial and trade centre that was believed to have been vanished in floods in 1314 A.D. The event's resounding success can be gauged from the fact that it has so far attracted more than a million visitors.

6.The collaborative nature of the partnership between the government and the Kochi Biennale Foundation, and the very successful result of that partnership, is proof of what can be achieved when a government invests in culture.Public funding for the arts provides support, offers certainty and the opportunity to touch the lives of vast numbers of people.

7.Public fundshave the power toact as seed funding, givingothers theconfidence to invest in the creation and innovation of cultural organizations like the Kochi Biennale Foundation which, along with the Kerala government,is providing cultural stewardship and playing host to global artistic ideas on our own ground. When you partner that with innovative ideas and a unique point of view, the results can be staggering and beautiful.

8.WeNeedTheArts.All over the worldcultural activities are easy targetsfor spending cuts.But if the state is to act as the catalyst then what must be its role? What institutions must be built up, and what confidence measures should be taken? The Kochi Biennale Foundation is a good case study of what is possible whendiffering agencies come together to pursue profoundgoals: to value culture, and the achievements of the human spirit, to celebrate the human imagination, and to make those achievements key markers of development. But most important this model should be replicated in different parts of the country.I hope the panelistscan discuss and consider all these questions. I wish you all the very best and a meaningful discourse.

9.Andwith these words, I declare this seminar open for discussion.I wish allof you the very best.

Jai Hind.