Art festival to boost Kerala`s economy

Kochi: The upcoming Kochi-Muziris Biennale 2012, an international exhibition of contemporary art and a cultural extravaganza, would also make robust business sense for Kerala and the local economy, industry sources said Friday.

Organisers expect a record eight lakh visitors at the three-month event that begins here Dec 12.

"The history of recent biennales across the world proves this. A biennale is not only about demystifying contemporary art but also about forging a huge commercial engagement," said Shwetal Patel, executive officer at the Kochi Biennale Foundation, the organiser of the event.

Kochi-Muziris Biennale has been billed as the largest and most sophisticated international art festival showcasing artwork since 1895, being held in the country for the first time.

The event is the only destination in India mentioned in the ‘13 Cultural Events To Be Seen’ by Forbes Magazine.

The exhibition will see 88 artists from over 35 countries, including 40 from India, exhibiting artwork created from a variety of mediums.

Last year`s nine-week long Singapore Biennale had nine lakhs visitors. In 2010, Gwangju Biennale in South Korea had close to five lakh visitors in nine weeks.

Liverpool Biennale in 2010 attracted more than six lakh people, generating an economic impact of 27 million pounds.

Jose Dominic, who runs the Casino Group of Hotels in Kerala, said this would give Kerala the image of a happening place of new art, as much or even more than the backwaters and ayurveda-driven wellness the state is known for.

"The event is going to be a perfect example of commerce riding piggyback on art and culture. I expect a tremendous surge in the local economy as well as of Kerala," said Dominic.

According to the World Tourism Organisation, cultural tourism accounts for 37 per cent of world travel (26.5 crore international trips in 2003) and is growing at a rate of 15 per cent per year.