The St+art India Foundation’s almost month-long street art festival, has taken off in Mumbai. The festival has 20 artists and the overall aim is to make art more accessible for the common man. This means art has moved out of galleries, seen rightly or wrongly as elitist, open to a few and no-go zones for people of a certain social strata, to the streets. It is an attempt to demystify art and to make the people feel that ‘arty’ does not mean intimidating.
Certain streets, buildings and public infrastructure are to benefit through this festival. Art is going to breathe new life into grey, lacklustre street walls and alleys. Infrastructure is going to get spiffy, thanks to the art infusion which will bring some creativity to some banal buildings.
It would be good if street art can find a permanent place in the city. Currently, we have the festival, but that will be over in a few days. We have had sporadic attempts at street art; corporates too have promoted some artists who have had their work on the street, yet these initiatives are inconsistent.
What this city needs is a sustained, consistent effort with a great deal of careful thought and planning going into beautifying public infrastructure like bus shelters, train stations and certain buildings. Wall art can also be promoted. This, has to fall on the civic authorities shoulders. They, can in turn partner with corporates and art organisations to see how best one could implement this.
The city has a vast reservoir of artistic talent, so there is no paucity of artists, which include craftsmen, sculptors to tap into. Maybe, they could work cohesively with a town planning authority, to see how this would work best.
With solid planning and homework, street art can blend in seamlessly with the infrastructure in the city. Currently, organisations even with the best of intentions are stymied by the number of permissions one needs to get a street art project cleared. Civic authorities must head an umbrella organisation, with senior, eminent artists as guides. Creativity will add soul to the city, which is accused of having a concrete heart.