Muralidhara Khajane

MYSORE: The only premier fine arts institute in the State supported by the Government, the Chamarajendra Academy of Visual Arts (CAVA) is facing serious problems even after 25 years of its inception thanks to the Government’s apathy in addressing its issues.

Negligence on the part of the authorities of the Department of Kannada and Culture, which controls CAVA, has forced students to launch an agitation to draw attention to their needs. Previous student agitations had no impact on the authorities.

Students complain that lack of a spacious campus, a basic need to trigger the imagination, has hampered their learning process. There is no space for setting up a modern art gallery to exhibit the works of postgraduate students. There isn’t a good library either. Another problem is the shortage of faculty. “More than space constraints, it is the shortage of faculty that is affecting the students most. The students of post-graduate courses are supposed to have 1,000 hours of classes, but they are only attending 330 hours,” said Manjunath, a final MFA student.

But, CAVA management has its own take on the problems raised by students. According to CAVA Dean Deshpande, efforts are being made to have a spacious campus. After being appointed as the Dean of CAVA in 1981, Prof. V.M. Sholapurkar, started searching for a new location for CAVA. He was able to get the royal hunting lodge “Aloka”, situated about 15 km from Mysore in Yelwala. It was located in an area of 60 acres surrounded by forest land. The Government then handed it over to CAVA. After three years in the city, Prof. Sholapurkar shifted CAVA to this new location and started operations despite protests.

However, those who succeeded Prof. Sholapurkar brought CAVA back to its old dungeon on Sayyaji Rao Road and Aloka reverted to the Forest Department.

It is significant that Prof. Sholapurkar had asked architect Laurie Baker to submit a design for his new dream of CAVA and Mr. Baker submitted a plan which was ideal and futuristic, costing less than half the cost estimated by the Government’s architect.

After Mr. Deshpande became the dean, he succeeded in getting five acres of land and the building of Text Book Press, popularly known as the German Press for the institute. He requested the Central PWD to prepare a plan. However agitation by employees of the press came in the way of acquiring it. “Now we have asked the Deputy Commissioner to search for a suitable land for CAVA and we are keeping our fingers crossed,” said Mr. Deshpande.

“We are running the show with the help of guest lectures and availing additional rooms from CTI,” he said.