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Suvaprasanna's Arts Acre: A milestone in the world of culture

Suvaprasanna's Arts Acre, in Kolkata, is a treat for artists from across the globe, who regularly visit this inspiring green space to create art and motivate aspiring young artists , writes Nandini Guha.

The brainchild of the legendary artist, Suvaprasanna, Arts Acre is a complete minicity for artists and art lovers from India and abroad. Situated in the heart of new town Rajarhat, this mega-facility is where maestros from the field of visual arts gather regularly to share their expertise and experience. The Foundation which is the core body behind Arts Acre also sees to it that dance, theatre, music and films add to the vibrant ambience of the cultural space.


The 1,65,000 square feet space is like one endless canvas — with halls, foyers, corridors, greenery and atrium seamlessly flowing into one another. Minutes away from Axis mall and Hidco Bhawan, Arts Acre is strategically positioned to give art lovers "breathing space" while also ensuring that accessibility is not a problem.

Stalwarts like Chintamani Kar, Mrinal Sen, Subhas Mukhopadhyay, Annada Shankar Ray, Khuswant Singh, Mulk Raj Anand, Manjit Bawa and Satish Gujral have been associated with Arts Acre initially and visited the campus often to encourage the artists. Guests from different countries also frequented the arts facility, leading to exchange programmes that resulted in Indian artists exhibiting their displays in cities like London and Washington DC. The facility has been designed by famous architect Partha Ranjan Das. The newly built Arts Acre was inaugurated by Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on March 6, 2014. Luminaries – Mahashweta Devi, Karan Singh, M Balamuralikrishna, Pandit Birju Maharaj and Anjolie Ela Menon – the Who's Who of the cultural world had marked their presence at the inaugural.
Arts Acre was originally an institution for nurturing young artists in the field of visual arts. On March 3, 1984, sitar maestro Pandit Ravi Shankar had laid the foundation stone of Arts Acre. The modestly-built original campus was inaugurated on January 11, 1987, by Nobel laureate Gunter Grass with an exhibition of his drawings.
Arts Acre Museum
The museum occupies the pride of place in the Arts Acre's scheme of things. The Museum presently has in its possession about 500 artworks.
The 40,000 square feet space covers English Lithography, Chorbagan prints, Kalighat pats, the Tagores, Ramkinkar Baij, Nandalal Bose, Jamini Roy, Paritosh Sen, Ganesh Pyne, Bikash Bhattacharjee and new generation artists like Samir Roy, Chandra Bhattacharya, Tarun Roy among many others. The collection is, arguably, the most important body of Modern Bengal Art. Apart from this, there are collections on Indian contemporary art, Bangladesh gallery, watercolour gallery, Indo-German gallery and gallery Suvaprasanna.
The popular Museum Shop is a 1,000 square feet store that sells exclusive arts and crafts of India and small-format paintings, sculptures, reproductions and replicas from the Arts Acre collection.
Workshops
The workshops have a complete range of modern infrastructure and cover printmaking, lithography, ceramics, painting, serigraphy, sculpture, photography and cinema. Workshops of 700 square feet to 1,500 square feet with 15 feet high ceilings are ready to welcome artists, both professionals and aspirants. Each workshop can accommodate at least 20 participants at a time. The Arts Acre workshops are coordinated by Samir Ray, the noted artist.
The Ceramics Workshop is guided by Swapan Jana and Mukta Jana, noted ceramicists. The Graphics Workshop with its complete range of modern infrastructure is conducted by Atin Basak, the well-known graphic artist.
Studios
There are 15 residential studios of 300 square feet each. They are large, airy and bright. Available for artists working independently, they have round-the-clock basic infrastructure. The campus is armed with guest apartments which are frequented by artists and connoisseurs from all over the world.
The Galleries
Four 1,000 square feet to 4,000 square feet galleries are available for limited-period exhibitions. The sizes vary to accommodate different requirements. Exhibitions of all types – painting, sculpture, installation, craft, photography – are all welcome.
A recurring theme in the architectural design of Arts Acre is space. The many terraces totalling 35,000 square feet at different levels reflect this concept. These are meant to be meeting places for artists, as well as for rehearsals or performances. The Arts Acre Conference Rooms with appropriate technology are available for conferences, seminars, symposiums, meetings and all forms of interactive brainstorming.
Sarala-Basant Birla Auditorium
This state-of-the-art auditorium with 400 seats is equipped with appropriate greenrooms, lighting, projection and sound systems with skillfully engineered acoustics ensuring a high-quality viewing experience. Theatre and other performing arts including films are being hosted in this multifunctional venue. The auditorium also has the latest safety equipment.
Amphitheatre
The garden and outer walls of Arts Acre grounds are dotted with sculptures and installations by eminent artists. The Arts Acre Amphitheatre hosts a variety of pulsating performances in the beautifully landscaped gardens with a capacity of 200 seats. It is ideally suited for large, open-air events.
The campus is now ready to use for film shows, rehearsals, film shooting, outdoor exhibitions, fairs and similar events. Unlike in the city, parking space is not a luxury. There is ample space to park 50 cars.
Friends of Arts Acre
The terraces have snacks corners. The terrace gardens are aesthetically landscaped. They include a large water body with boats. Rare species of trees in this area invite many species of birds – parakeets, black-headed golden orioles, barbets, among many others.
The four large conference rooms are available around the year. Besides a host of special privileges, the 2,000 square feet Friends of Arts Acre lounge offers exclusive access to members to relax, unwind and comingle, without the city's hustle and bustle and within the sylvan surroundings.
Conservation Laboratory
The 1,600 square feet conservation laboratory is unique since it offers infrastructure and expertise for the restoration and conservation of paintings, sculptures and manuscripts. It has a sophisticated and well-equipped lab, managed by experienced conservator Partha Pratim Saha and team. The lab has a natural light area for restoration work as well as its own storage facility.
Creative Cuisine
A 7,500 square feet casual dining space and café with an open portico overlooks a lush green landscaped garden. It can accommodate more than 200 persons quite comfortably.
The high ceiling and large glass windows accentuate the sense of space and light. A well-equipped modern kitchen dishes out delicious cuisine inspired mainly by the food patterns of Bengal.
On can surely conclude that this sprawling Kolkata facility is unique in its beauty and presentation of artistic space. It is a treat for artists and art lovers from all over the world.

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