Different strokes: Painter leads rally to 'save' art hub

Different strokes: Painter leads rally to 'save' art hub

A group of artists and members of the public were planning to gather at the Bangkok Art and Culture Centre (BACC) in Pathumwan district Tuesday to protest against City Hall's plan to take over managing the centre.

Vasan Sitthiket, a well-known Thai painter, turned to Facebook to urge his peers and society in general to convene at the BACC and proceed to the the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA) to lodge its petition.

The move is expected to put pressure on BMA executives who will today decide the fate of the arts centre, now run by a foundation under a 2011-2021 contract.

The controversy stems from the discovery of the fact that the BACC foundation did not have an official permit from the BMA council or Interior Ministry.

Based on Section 96 of the BMA Act, the body can allow a private entity to handle its operations but this must be approved by the council and the ministry. The foundation, according to Pawit Mahasaranand, director of the BACC, had a contract signed by former Bangkok governor MR Sukhumbhand Paribatra that allowed it to manage the space. This means there was no violation of the law, he added.

Mr Vasan has also called for the ouster of Bangkok governor Aswin Kwanmuang. The group was reportedly preparing to go to Government House to petition for his removal.

According to the artist, the city governor has made no significant achievements during his time in office, but has managed to offend the arts community.

The BMA's move has sparked fears that the BACC would be turned into another commercial complex following the governor's remark that the foundation ran the BACC at a loss. City Hall provides a budget of 40 million baht a year.

Mr Aswin said on Facebook the BMA would not meddle if people disagreed.

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