Indo-French Malraux Seminar 2019-2020


Dance Bridges represented by Festival Director, Vanessa Maria Mirza was pleased to be a part of the Malraux Seminar organized by the French Institute in India. An excerpt from a report by Institut Francais (New Delhi, India) of the meetings in September 2019 and May 2020. Download the full report here. India expresses an ongoing interest for urban issues, public spaces and artistic involvement in these areas, offering France an interesting opportunity of cooperation and exchange. France has a real expertise in designing artistic projects in public spaces, as demonstrated through festivals and other initiatives mainly led by public authorities. While cultural operators in India also develop creative and innovative projects across the territory, they still face many difficulties and constraints related to the complex and multidimensional nature of public spaces. To this end, the Malraux Seminar aimed to be a platform for encounters and dialogue, bringing together Indian and French stakeholders from practitioners, architects, urbanists, academics and cultural project managers to Government officials. The two-day symposium inquired into public art interventions, its challenges, and actions necessary to guide urban art projects forward. As smart city initiatives progressively consider art in its policy making, the conference created an open conversation to collectively discuss resources and best practices. The proceedings broke the intricacies of sustainable Public Art projects into 3 main themes with 5 roundtables. Public art is influential in creating a more vibrant and participatory urban space. The case studies presented opened an exchange on making art that is more inclusive, and forging partnerships to enable financial or in-kind support. Such artistic manifestations reanimate interest in a city and augment global interest and tourism. As public art projects bring back forgotten legacies and lesser known districts on the cultural map,there is a need for greater education and exposure for all the stakeholders who conduct such interventions, from the grassroot level to the state authorities. Due to the Covid-19 crisis, several of the Seminar’s conclusions have been challenged and many questions and issues raised on the future of art and culture in a post-pandemic public space. Taking off from the 5 original ones, a virtual round table was organised in May 2020 that brought together all the participants to share their experiences, thoughts and concerns on both the current situation and the future of public art projects in a post-covid world. This final exchange raised several points on urban public art, and a lot of food for thought in anticipation of the future.