With reporting from Peter Kovessy
With the Katara Art Center facing an uncertain future and preparing to close its doors by the end of the month, its members gathered this week for what may be its final community event.
Several dozen supporters of the KAC turned up for the Sunday meeting, sharing their thoughts on the imminent closure of the Katara venue.
“Local artists must have a place to vent. They have to have an outlet, and there aren’t many places like that in Doha,” said political cartoonist Khalid Albaih.
KAC managers recently learned that an unnamed investor had withdrawn their funding and that the three-year-old organization would have to vacate its space within the Katara Cultural Village.
The arts center was founded in 2011 and focused on promoting young and emerging Qatar-based artists and designers.
This mandate contrasts with many of Qatar’s other art institutions, which have spent large sums of money in recent years courting exhibitions by established international artists such as Damien Hirst, as well as buying famous pieces of art such as Cézanne’s The Card Players.
“There is a real misunderstanding of the value of independent centres and independent spaces,” Mayssa Fattouh, KAC’s artistic director and curator, told Doha News in a video interview.
“We focus on locally based artists, creators and designers. We don’t have the capacity or the interest to tap into the larger international names. Our interest, our focus and our direction is to nurture the local communities and take them out, rather than bring in from outside.”
this country is not ready for art centers…..one museum (MIA) does not make a country with art…..
I don’t really understand – was KAC selling art? Or was it reliant upon the financial support of an anonymous investor to keep it afloat. Because if no one wants to pay for your art, you might need to think of a new career.
Why pay for a work of art from an unknown local artist when you can get Hirst to butcher some animals and put in a glass box for viewing? It’s all about the brand name recognition and limelight hogging in Qatar, less so about appreciation of the arts.
There’s certainly a lot of truth to that observation. All this seems to be such a first world problem. We have the former Artistic Director and Curator talking up the “value of independent centres and independent spaces” and then in the next breath expecting some anonymous donor or government body to fund it. Clearly my understanding of ‘independent’ and hers are not from the same dictionary.
To be honest, there is an abundance of art venues, museums, and galleries in this country. Bear in mind that there is not that much interest in art here, especially from the locals, so there is no point trying to keep venues that have very limited use and that only few people visit. Moreover, Katara is full of art and culture venues (QMA Gallery, the various exhibition buildings, etc.) so losing one is not going to cause a popularity issue for it.
I won’t deny it, I am a fan of KAC, not sure if you attended the event on Sunday but I think it was very representative of the success and need of that platform. It looks like the communities that this place represents are ready for it and from this video and the previous article I think what the director was calling for is the government to have a structure that allows for such spaces rather than direct support. I think anyone who tries to have an independent space here immediately hits the wall of the government and registering a non for profit is a very complicated affair.