KARNATAKA

Land sanctioned for art centre in Hassan

HASSAN MARCH 30. With the sanctioning of 10 acres of land, the efforts to set up the Regional Art Centre (RAC), considered to be one of the major regional art complexes in South India, have received a boost.

Setting up such a centre away from the "crowded" Bangalore, and that too in Hassan has been the objective of the Karnataka Lalitakala Academy (KLA). The President of KLA, Peter Lewis, while he was its member, had appealed to the Central Lalitakala Academy (CLA) to set up the RAC in Hassan. He justified Hassan's choice citing the architectural splendour the district was known for. The Belur and Halebeed temples and the Gomateshwara statute were well known throughout the world.

He said at one stage there was plan to set up the RAC either in Shimoga or Kumta in Uttara Kannada District. Following appeals from the people of Hassan District and due to the efforts of the KLA, the CLA conceded the demand for setting up the centre in Hassan.

After getting the green signal for the RAC, the process of finding a suitable site for the centre began in July last. A delegation led by Mr. Peter Lewis met the Deputy Commissioner, L.K.Atheeq, and sought land for the centre.

Mr. Atheeq suggested two sites -- one adjacent to the KMF's cattle feed plant and another abutting the Chennapatnakere Tank which was breached in December 1996 for the purpose of "development." Later, a decision was taken to choose the plot next to the cattle feed plant.

Sources said there was a move to acquire the land chosen by the KLA for a truck terminus, but it was given up following the intervention by the Revenue Minister, H.C. Srikantaiah, and Puttaswamy Gowda, MP. Finally, the Revenue Department sanctioned 10 acres of land in Survey no. 71 of Chennapatna village and the fencing of the area was expected to start soon.

Speaking to The Hindu, Mr. Lewis said the project would be implemented in phases with the help of CLA, State Government, and institutions.

B.S. Desai, member of the KLA, said the centre would have a 500-seat theatre, an open air-theatre, folk museum, an art and sculpture museum, an art gallery of international standards, library, a mini film theatre, lecture hall, conference room, studios, and a guesthouse.

Mr. Lewis said the academy members had suggested forming a trust headed by the Minister of State for Kannada and Culture to promote the project.

Now, the process was on to form a trust of 11 members with maximum representation to Hassan District. A meeting in this regard was held on March 12 and it was attended by Mr. Lewis and the KLA members.

The Minister of State for Kannada and Culture, Rani Satish, who inspected the plot allotted to the RAC, is reported to have been satisfied with it.

The KLA member, P.S. Kumar, said the process of drafting bylaws had commenced and it would be completed soon.

Mr. Lewis said a team of experts would visit Bhubaneswar, Nagpur, and New Delhi where regional art centres had been set up.

During his recent visit to Hassan, the former Chairman of the Kannada Development Authority, Baragur Ramachandrappa, said the setting up of RAC would change the cultural scene of Hassan District.

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