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Kochi-Muziris Biennale post report released
  • June 2014

Kerala Chief Minister releases KPMG report on Kochi-Muziris Biennale

The first-of-its-kind study on an art and culture event in the country shows Biennale had a long-lasting impact on the overall economy of Kerala

 Kerala Chief Minister Mr. Oommen Chandy released findings of a study on the first Kochi-Muziris Biennale (KMB) held during December 2012-March 2013 by global professional services firm KPMG, which says the showpiece art event made a long-lasting impact on the economy of Kerala, benefiting the state in many sectors, from culture to education, tourism to hospitality and real estate to transportation.

 Releasing the KPMG report at the Chief Minister’s Chamber in the State Secretariat this afternoon, Shri Oommen Chandy said “Biennale has been one of the most fruitful programmes in the state’s cultural and tourism sector. The event has highlighted our artistic and traditional values. The government will extend all support to this year’s biennale also,” he added.

 India’s first-ever Biennale, KMB was inaugurated by the Honourable Chief Minister at the Parade Grounds in Fort Kochi on December 12, 2012.

 Mr. K C Joseph, Minister for Rural Development, Planning and Culture, Kerala  received the first copy of the report from the Chief Minister, Among those present at the release of the KPMG report  were Mr. A P Anil Kumar, Minister for Tourism, Mr. Hibi Eden MLA, Mr. Suman Billa IAS, Secretary, Tourism, Kerala,   Mr. G Vijayarakhavan, Member, Planning Commission Board and Kochi Biennale Foundation President Mr. Bose Krishnamachari and Secretary Mr. Riyas Komu. KPMG Chief Operating Officer (Tax) Mr. Sachin Menon presented the details of the report.

 This is the first such study on KMB, and a first-of-its-kind study on an art and culture event in India, which drew nearly 400,000 visitors during the three-month cultural extravaganza. The study reveals that KMB played a key role towards facilitating the transformation of Kochi, which is competing with other cities such as Hyderabad, Bangalore and Chennai to become India’s leading IT-BPO hub.

 Real estate prices around various Biennale venues witnessed an increase, the study says, adding that there was a 13 per cent rise in real estate prices in Mattancherry, about 10 per cent near Fort Kochi and about 24 per cent in Veli region.

 In the transport sector in Kochi, it says, the average monthly income of rickshaw and taxi drivers witnessed a 10 per cent rise during the course of the event because of the increased number of tourists.  The Biennale also led to the creation of several permanent and temporary employment opportunities, with over 30 per cent of the jobs retained after the event, the report adds.

 One of the biggest beneficiaries of the Biennale was the state’s tourism industry, according to the report. It also notes that the first month of the Biennale witnessed a 52 per cent rise in domestic tourist arrivals and over 8 per cent rise in international tourist arrivals to Kerala.

 Over 500 foreign tourists visited the event venue on a daily basis, bringing with them the much-needed foreign exchange. Several domestic and international tourists clubbed other destinations with Kochi, thereby promoting tourism in the entire Kerala and the neighbouring states, the study says. In February this year, KMB won a prestigious national award for ‘Most Innovative and Unique Tourism Project’ in the Niche Tourism segment from the Government of India’s National Tourism Awards.

 The benefits from the Biennale to the hospitality industry were significant, says the report. The off-season average occupancy of Kochi hotels rose from about 50 per cent to over 65 per cent during the event. The average increase in room prices was about 66 per cent for 2-star hotels, 71 per cent for 3-star and over 85 per cent for heritage properties. The restaurant industry also benefitted from the Biennale, witnessing an average increase of 22 per cent in the number of diners during the event.

 According to the report, the Biennale provided an unparalleled opportunity to the artistic community as a whole. “All artists - established or emerging, Indian or foreign - seem to have benefited from the seminars, discussions, exhibitions, opportunities to interact and associate with senior artists and studio visits by artists,” says the report.

 The Biennale also benefited artists who did not even participate in the event, it says, adding experts were able to evaluate works of students and emerging artists when senior artists, gallery owners, curators and collectors visited local galleries and fine arts colleges.

 The social impact of the Biennale received a special praise in the report, which says the Biennale, in its inaugural edition itself, seems to have transformed the social landscape of the city. According to the report, the concept of the Biennale to use the arts to link the historic legacy of present-day Kochi with the rich cultural influences of its predecessor, the ancient port of Muziris, a financial centre point that was believed to have been washed out in floods in 1341 AD, was significant in its success.

 “The concept behind the KMB is to use the medium of art to elevate Kochi, its successor, to the status of a world city and to make it the key to the prosperity of the region, the state and the country. The event… succeeded in achieving all these objectives,” says the report.

 The report also lauded the positive impact that the event had on Kochi’s environment. It mentions extensive measures undertaken ahead of the event, including beach cleaning and pollution awareness raising drive.

 “Successive governments in Kerala have always encouraged arts and culture in the state,” the report says, adding the UDF Government, led by Chief Minister Mr. Oommen Chandy, supported the Biennale with an additional Rs 40 million towards the operational expenses of KMB 2012-13. According to the report, the first edition of KMB managed to secure funding and support from the government and also from forward-thinking corporate players such as DLF, BMW, Tata & Sons, IndiGo, Royal Enfield and others.

 In the education sector, an estimated 30,000 schoolchildren visited the Biennale exhibitions over a three-month period and about 1,600 students from 25 local schools participated in the Children’s Biennale education programme, fulfilling the event’s objective of reaching out to a young and diverse audience. Higher education students from academies across India, as well as two institutions from abroad, visited Kochi to conduct research on the role of culture in urban development, prior to and during the exhibition.

 According to the report, the Biennale garnered massive media coverage with its monetary value estimated at Rs 900 million, including Rs 640 million in print and Rs 260 million in the online media. The PR agency for the event - the New Delhi-based MD Niche - won the Gold Sabre award for excellence in public relations in two categories for “having turned the Biennale into a spectacular media success”, adds the report.

 It also says the economic benefits from the global event were not restricted to Kochi alone. Complimented by the natural beauty of Kerala, the art and cultural extravaganza drove tourism in the entire state, says the report, which used international parameters in analyzing the economic, social and intellectual impact of the development of art on an emerging economy like India.

 A similar study conducted in the US had found that in 2010, the country’s art and culture industry had generated 135.2 billion dollars of economic activity, supporting 4.1 million full-time jobs. In the UK, 32 per cent of its 10 million inbound visits and 42 per cent of all tourism-related expenditure amounting to 7.6 billion pounds were linked with culture.

 The study says the next edition of the event is expected to witness a surge in tourists from all over the world. This is likely to go a long way toward promoting tourism in the entire Kerala, which is renowned for its backwaters and wellness tourism, it says.

 A total of 89 artists from 23 countries participated in over 60 spaces spread across 14 sites for 96 days to produce art installations, video exhibits, sculptures, outdoor installations and other multimedia exhibits.

 
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