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.
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