Kochi Muziris Biennale gets aid of Rs-1 crore per year from NRI

T V Narayanan Kutty becomes the first long term patron of Kochi Biennale

The country’s only international art festival of its kind hit a pioneering source of sustained private funding, as the Kochi-Muziris Biennale 2014 saw UAE-based Indian businessman T V Narayanan Kutty coming forward to provide Rs one crore per year for the conduct of the extravaganza whose second edition is slated to start in 15 weeks from now. 

The monetary aid also meant that Kochi Biennale Foundation (KBF) which organises the biennial event got a long-term patron to support its activities.  Mr Kutty, who is the Group founder and Chairman of Dubai-headquartered IAL Group, has 33 years of professional experience in the banking and shipping sectors. 

The KBF, while hailing the grant, said it sensed the prospect of similar donations from well-wishers.  Top officials of the 2010-incepted foundation expressed optimism that long-term overseas funding would soon become a trend for the benefit of the future editions of the biennale. 

On his part, Mr Kutty said his decision to financially back the non-profit organisation came in the wake of the Biennale’s emergence as a platform for exchange of cultural and social values that are vital for the betterment of society. 

“I am extremely happy to be associated with the Biennale. Only art can bring back and preserve those values that have started to disintegrate,” the Malayali entrepreneur said addressing a function organised by the KBF to felicitate him on Monday evening. The function here also marked a formal welcome to Mr Kutty as the new patron of the KBF. 

Mr Kutty, who holds a Master’s Degree in Physics from Kerala University and a Masters in Business Administration from Cochin University, appreciated the efforts taken by artists Bose Krishnamachari and Riyas Komu for the conduct of the Biennale which has risen to fame across the globe since its debut in 2012. The second edition is scheduled to start this December 12. 

Mr K V Thomas, MP, felicitated Mr Kutty, and said the Kerala government would extend all support to Biennale 2014 which has become one of the most important art festivals across the globe. “We need persons like Mr Kutty to support events of this magnitude that puts Kochi in the world map,” he added. 

Kerala Tourism Secretary Suman Billa said the tourism department was single-mindedly supporting the Biennale to transform Kochi into art capital of the country. “We also want to make Kochi a commercial capital of art where works of art from across the world are bought and sold,” he added. “The government will extend all the required support to Biennale to make it a huge success. 

Renowned artist Jitish Kallat, who is the curator of the 2014 biennale, said the upcoming edition would not be reflections on Kochi; instead it would mirror an outward view of the old cosmopolitan city. “We will converse and reach out to the realities of today’s world,” he said, adding that art students from across the country would participate in the 108-day Biennale 2014 which would also have a film festival. 

Other speakers at the function included Mr P Rajeev, MP, Greater Cochin Development Authority Chairman N Venugopal, Kochi Ex-Mayor K J Sohan and KBF principal advisor Uday Balakrishnan, besides Mr Krishnamachari who is the KBF President and Komu who is the Director of Programmes of the Kochi Muziris Biennale. 

Mr Kutty started his career in 1972 as Probationary Officer with State Bank of India, and held managerial positions with the bank for 13 years in areas of industrial credit, retail and international banking. Then, during 1985-87, he worked with a reputed American shipping line in India. 

In 1987, he forayed into entrepreneurship by jointly promoting Seacrest Shipping Services with a UK-based shipping company, to manage common carrier feeder services in India and the Middle East. When the contract with the UK principal expired in 1988, he continued to operate the company through joint ventures. 

In 1992, on expiry of Seacrest’s joint venture contracts, he launched IAL Container Line (UK) Ltd, offering point-to-point marine transportation. IAL operated its own fleet of ships to service trade between the Middle East and the Indian Sub-continent. Today, it covers an entire spectrum of logistics services ranging from Liner Shipping, Shipping Agencies, Global Supply Chain Logistics, Fine Art Logistics, Project Logistics and Pre-engineered modular construction. 

With an initial and modest strength of 15 staff in 1992, the Group today employs a multi-cultural team of over 500 professionals across its 10 companies and 30 offices in the Middle East, the Indian Sub-continent, South East Asia, the UK and the US. The company ships containers to over 40 different locations but manages its operations from Dubai.

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