“Revive and promote a new, distinct creative economy”

(Originally published in Greater Kashmir, 1st January 2015 – http://bit.ly/1x91ZDT)

“I hope we achieve a sense of ownership towards our future, a sense of ownership towards Kashmir. I hope we begin to see what we have lost because of our mistakes in the past, and therefore work together to make advances towards a progressive future. To construct a Kashmir with arms open to the world, we must begin to think of ourselves as the guardians of this incredibly beautiful land; of awe-inspiring culture; of our past and future.
The creative and cultural infrastructure in Kashmir has been seriously lacking. There have been no avenues for the artists to showcase their work. There is no exchange of creative dialogue with the international world. Art education is seriously lacking. The lone institute of fine arts at Rajbagh is in shambles. It is probably the most gravely ignored institution by the University over the years and especially after the floods. It still awaits rehabilitation. Hardly any research takes place in the field of visual arts in Kashmir. What we learn from history and through evidence is that the state of arts in a society strongly influences its social, cultural and intellectual evolution. But unfortunately our creative sector is in a pathetic shape.
To address the issues in this sector I started Kashmir Art Quest in 2009 which has been working towards the advancements of arts, artists and art education in Kashmir. The platforms and opportunities for creative expression had become non-existent here due to decades of turmoil and conflict, curbs on freedom of expression, ignorance by successive governments and absence of any organisations working in the field of arts. It is one of our foremost goals to create a situation in Kashmir where an international art-scene might exist – therefore channelize creative energy towards Kashmir. We celebrate a culture of innovation and creativity, and strive to foster creative and cultural entrepreneurship in the region.
Unfortunately we are still the only independent contemporary arts organisation working actively in Kashmir. However we are all-set to launch the first ever centre for contemporary arts and research in J&K – a historical landmark, and a much needed space especially in a place like Kashmir. Gallerie One will initiate the long overdue exploration of the creative economy, and promote Brand Kashmir globally. This will create value propositions worth crores of Rupees for our society, our traders, hoteliers, businesses, real-estate developers, and even the tourists visiting Kashmir. This has finally become possible after years of hard work and now by the support from J&K Department of Tourism. I hope the local businesses, corporate, future administration and governments continue to support such initiatives, and prioritize the revival and promotion of a new, distinct creative economy.”

Syed Mujtaba Rizvi

Founder, Chief Executive Officer, Gallerie One.

Founder, Managing Director, Kashmir Art Quest.



An open letter to everyone reading this.

Dear Reader,

Kashmir has witnessed one of the most severe calamities in its recent history. The floods came and caused immeasurable destruction to life, property, and infrastructure –  and also washed away a major chunk of our treasures, historical archives, manuscripts, artworks, artifacts, cultural assets and so on.This is in addition to decades of turmoil and conflict which had severely hit the creative sector in Kashmir. Even before the floods came the artists hardly had any avenues to showcase their creative practices. Kashmir Art Quest through its numerous initiatives had been working to revive the contemporary art scene in Kashmir and promote creative and cultural entrepreneurship. In addition to our various initiatives which had a local, national and international focus, we were all set to create history by establishing Kashmir’s first ever centre for contemporary arts and research. This would have been a new chapter not only in the Kashmiri contemporary art scene but a first of its kind initiative to introduce Kashmir to the world.

However, as mentioned above the floods have severely damaged whatever bit of art infrastructure was there in Kashmir. The lone institute of music and fine arts, which was already in shambles, was located at Rajbagh in Srinagar – which was one of the most badly hit areas. The water level rose more than three stories high and damaged almost all the artworks including the structure of the building. The J&K academy of art culture and language, which was home to some other rarest artifacts, manuscripts, artworks and so on, met the same fate. “The strong-room that protected these priceless objects was fire-proof but not water proof,” Mr. Haroon tells us who is secretary at the academy.  Over the years Kashmir Art Quest has worked with more than 200 artists in Kashmir including the leading contemporaries. A lot of them have suffered damage because of the floods. Their artworks and studios were washed away along with their homes.

Kashmir Art Quest has a proven track record of executing some of the most unique art initiatives and these floods have only strengthen our commitment towards the betterment of art and artists in Kashmir. The challenging task that we had taken upon ourselves is now a mammoth task. Funding for the arts was always absent in this conflict-redden region and we were always dependent on small donations, local sponsorship and innovative methodologies to work within extremely limited means. We realize that we require greater external support to continue what we are doing. This is a matter of great urgency. Help us rehabilitate artists, and revive and preserve the art and culture of Kashmir.

We are open to suggestions and further discussions as to what our future plans are.

We look forward to your support.


Syed Mujtaba Rizvi

Managing Director, Kashmir Art Quest.



+91 9596 355 455