Bangalore is widely considered the start-up capital. Though there are many start-ups in the IT sector, they are an emerging trend in the field of art and culture

Start-ups and first generation entrepreneurs do not only come from management and engineering institutes. They also come from design institutes and art schools. Bangalore, over the last ten years, has been witness to this trend. A group of youngsters, brimming with ideas, are ready to take risks to start creative ventures. Artists, theatre practitioners, designers, filmmakers, photographers and musicians are creating a melting pot of innovations in the field of art and culture, with some even choosing to opt out of corporate careers to pursue their passion.

An increase in creative spaces, the coming up of reputed design institutes and the goodwill of Bangaloreans, are among the many reasons that encourage people to form start-ups in art and culture. Ameen Haque, founder of The Storywallahs, a recently-formed initiative that reaches out to children, including special and lesser-privileged children says, “Overall Bangalore in comparison with Mumbai, Delhi or Kolkata, has more start-ups. It’s a proven fact,” explains Ameen.

Start-ups in the field of art and culture in Bangalore, Ameen further contends, have increased over the years. “Bangaloreans are culturally-inclined. Our Facebook page is a good indicator of our progress. Every time a person likes our performance, they post on our page,” Ameen contends.

Tanu Jalan, founder of The Pseudo Garage that offers “up-cycled, recycled and refurbished” products, says that creative spaces such as Jaaga and Ranga Shankara provide platforms for artists, which helps generate awareness. “The city has been growing in design, art and craft,” says Tanu.

Sunita Suhas, a quilter, began her initiative Indian Yards only recently. “I always loved to sew. I left my job to look after my child and it was then that I decided to start Indian Yards.” Indian Yards, which offers quilts and bedspreads, has a prominent Facebook presence. Sunita says that Bangalore has a mixed crowd and hence varied preferences. “Bangaloreans are more receptive to new ideas, but the run-of-the-mill doesn’t work here. I always try to create different products.”

Vivek Juyal, an independent designer, who is due to set up kitschdi.com this August, which will offer kitsch products, says there are plenty of promising start-ups in design in the city. “This could be attributed to the design institutes, from Srishti School of Art, Design and Technology to National Institute of Fashion Technology. A number of talented designers are from these Institutes. More than 50 per cent of fashion retailers are based in Bangalore,” says Vivek.

Sudhir Selvaraj, production head of Renegade Arts and Theatre Society, says that there has been a boom in English theatre in Bangalore over the last few years. He believes that the Bangalore audience is known to be theatre literate and receptive to watching all kinds of theatre. “The people here are very encouraging. A number of youth theatre groups are emerging. And there has also been an increased activity of older and established theatre groups. The youth and those with full-time jobs pursue theatre during their free time. I believe that’s why theatre is becoming more popular among Bangaloreans,” says Sudhir.

Perumal Venkatesan, a well-known photographer and co-founder of Thalam, a space created to connect artists in various fields, says Bangalore needs a lot of community space. “There are well-established galleries in the city, but people can’t gather there to discuss art, theatre and photography. They go to these galleries only when there is a show.” The aim of Thalam, Perumal says, is to create community interaction about creativity. “Thalam was set up four months ago, and we have been able to create a distinct identity for ourselves as a serious space.”

Thalam has opened its doors to budding artists, storytellers and photographers. “Artists and photographers often need contacts to showcase their works at well-known spaces. Thalam is a space where both budding and established artists can exhibit their works. It is also a space for learning. We conduct multiple workshops and have had six exhibitions so far,” he contends.

Considering funding for the arts is negligible, one of the biggest challenges facing art and culture start-ups is sustainability. Suresh Jayaram, visual artist, art historian and founder-director of 1 Shanthi Road, offers a caveat. “The whole problem for start-ups is sustainability and a vision. Art start-ups require a viable financial model. Since grants are drying up, funding is difficult to come by; one has to strike a balance between overhead costs and a sustainable financial model.”

One cannot, however, deny the huge market possibility for start-ups due to social networking sites and online portals. The question that must be mulled over is what encourages people to take risks to start creative ventures? Is it to break free from the everyday monotony of life and work? Or is it because the creative side of a person is unexpressed with the Arts not being given its due in India?