Bangkok Governor Aswin Kwanmuang’s new plan for the city administration to run the Bangkok Art and Culture Centre (BACC) drew strong reactions on social media yesterday.
Many Thai artists posted their reactions on their Facebook pages after Aswin announced on Thursday his plan for the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA) to take over the operations of the BACC from the non-profit Bangkok Art and Culture Centre Foundation. The BMA claimed that the foundation running the centre was Bt80 million in the red annually.
After funding annually for 10 years since its doors opened, the BMA this year cut its funding for the centre. The governor will assign the Culture, Sport and Tourism Department of the BMA to run the city-funded art centre and turn it into a learning centre.
“As the BMA annually provides Bt40 million in funding to the foundation, it is better that BMA officials operate the city centre,” the governor said, while announcing his plan.
“We will lease the ground floor area in order to earn more money so as to cut the losses. We will convert the exhibition floors into a new learning centre. We will hold a meeting on May 15 to find a final solution to this issue,” the governor added.
As the capital’s landmark and tourism attraction area, the BACC is the only art and culture centre located at the heart of Bangkok on the corner of Rama I Road. The art centre is surrounded by major malls, including Siam Discovery and Mah Boonkrong.
As running an art centre requires expertise, artists and culture experts questioned the management skills of bureaucrats.
“If the BMA will run the BACC, let’s change its name to ‘Ass Hold’ centre,” National artist Suchart Sawassri, posted on his Facebook page.
“BACC don’t need Aswin,” performing artist Mongkol Plienbangchang posted on his Facebook.
“Artists will soon walk from the BACC to meet Governor Asawin. If you make the wrong decision, you can change it,” posted outspoken artist and activist Vasan Sitthiket.
These artists were part of a pioneering art movement who pushed previous Bangkok governors into building the Bt509-million art centre more than a decade ago. The project began in 1994 and after going through three governors finally opened its doors in 2008.
To avoid bureaucratic corruption, the non-profit Art and Culture Centre Foundation was later established to run the centre.
Kallaya Kassakul, the artists network’ coordinator, on Saturday posted on www.Change.org calling on supporters to #freebacc. As of Sunday noon, more than 3,200 supporters agreed to fight to free the art centre from the BMA and allow the Art and Culture Centre Foundation to continue running the centre.