Kala ghoda association

Kala Ghoda Association, was formed on 30th October 1998 with the object of maintaining and preserving the heritage and art district of South Mumbai. Every year, since 1999 the association hosts the Kala Ghoda Arts Festival, the country's largest multicultural festival, created to draw attention to this unique and beautiful area in Mumbai. Now in its 16th edition, the Festival draws visitors in large numbers, not just from the city but from all over the country, and, indeed, the world.

Kala ghoda ART DISTRICT

The Kala Ghoda precinct can be roughly defined as the area that stretches from the NGMA at the Southern end of Mahatma Gandhi Road, up to the Mumbai University at the northern end, flanked by the Oval Maidan to the west and the Lion Gate to the east. The name Kala Ghoda can be traced to the old equestrian statue of King Edward VII, which was placed at the centre of the large node on the old Esplanade Road. The statue, a vestige of the colonial era, has since been removed from the site, but the colloquially used for the district name persist regardless - an assertive confirmation of a compelling public memory.

Today, the area is a hub of cultural activity and a throbbing urban node with institutions like the Jehangir Art Gallery, Max Mueller Bhavan, Bombay University, the Museum, National Gallery of Modern Art, Institute of Science, Bombay Natural History Society, Elphinstone College, and David Sassoon Library around it, all within comfortable walking distance of each other. Apart from the entertaining pursuits of art and education, the area also offers a host of famous city restaurants and cafes, along with art galleries, designer boutiques, and many culture-related activities and venues - the most popular one being the annual Kala Ghoda Arts Festival, where many artistes, performers and craftspersons gather every February.

Besides the overwhelming impact of its myriad functions, the area also has a strong visual image, reinforced by historic buildings, perhaps the finest concentrated collection of heritage structures in the city. The Elphinstone College and David Sassoon Library are in the Victorian Neo-Gothic genre, while the Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahlaya (CSMVS) belongs to the Indo-Saracenic style. The Army & Navy Building reflects the vocabulary of the Renaissance Revival, and the Cowasji Jehangir Hall (which is now the National Gallery of Modern of Art) that of the Edwardian Neo-Classical in Mumbai.

With a combined total of almost 1,10,000 sq. ft of existing indoor gallery space, the Kala Ghoda Precinct has an existing critical mass of art galleries, museums, and cultural spaces unrivalled in all of India, and perhaps comparable to art districts in other parts of the world. To this could be added an additional mass of outdoor pavement galleries on Rampart Row and potential exhibition space within the covered arcades to make the Kala Ghoda area a veritable ‘Urban Museum’. Such a phenomenal ensemble of art functions within one concentrated zone, offers tremendous avenues for future development and, added to this the support infrastructure of existing lecture halls, convocation halls, and conference facilities offered by The Mumbai University, Elphinstone College, The Museum, BNHS and other neighbouring institutions, gives Kala Ghoda a unique place in the world of art and culture.

There are also many locational advantages that contribute to the special character of the Kala Ghoda Art District. The area occupies a pivotal location within Fort, and is on the tourist circuit of Taj Mahal Hotel - Gateway of India - Flora Fountain and The Asiatic Library. It has easy access to rail, water, and road transport and offers a large number of places of public interest within walking distance of each other. It is flanked by one of the city’s largest greens – the Oval Maidan to the west – and is situated in the heart of the city’s business, commercial, and administrative hub, close to Horniman Circle garden. The Cross Maidan is also in close proximity.

The Kala ghoda association

In order to give full opportunity to this potential as well as to physically improve the area, cultural institutions and art galleries in this area came together to form the Kala Ghoda Association in 1998 and have been since working toward the conservation of this area. This association has prioritized its conservation tasks and organizes an art festival annually, in February (the first Saturday till the next Sunday, for nine days) in order to bring attention to the area’s art and architectural heritage. Institutions located here, the galleries, patrons, and concerned citizens got together in 1988 to form the Kala Ghoda Association. The Association recognized that the largest emerging user as well as interest in the area, is art-related.

Furthermore, the Association recognized and anticipated the need to connect this powerful contemporary use and function to the physical improvement process. That is, really to use this function and its potential, to generate goodwill as well as financial support ,and act as the contemporary engine to drive the conservation and physical improvement of the area. In order to do this the Association decided to institute an Art Festival as an annual event, to bring attention to this precinct, to generate funds for sponsoring projects , and also to set an annual target for improvements.


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Targets:

  • To create a synergy between the existing components and functions in the Kala Ghoda area and therefore, to create a unique function of an Art District for the city.
  • To animate and make possible the use of interstitial spaces in the area such as pavements, the parking lot, side alleys, quadrangles in the buildings, etc., to not only bring art into the public realm, but also, through use, effect the introduction of the spaces into the public realm.
  • To create an infrastructure in the area to make possible and encourage cultural and art-related events, making Kala Ghoda Art District a landmark in Mumbai
  • To liaise with city authorities to create an appropriate context for the improvement of the precinct in the form of improved lighting in the public areas, and other such improvements that might make it a more efficient and humane environment.

Achievements:

  • The David Sassoon Library building and the illumination of its exteriors.
  • The Elphinstone College building and The Institute of Science have been restored with the help of the Kala Ghoda Association. The buildings of the Kala Ghoda Art District are in fact its greatest assets
  • The pay and park has been re-tiled as have been the streets and pavements on Rampart Row (kaikashru dubash marg)
  • The Khyber Restaurant wall mural.
  • An amphitheatre has been built over a storage space.
  • In 2008, the Kala Ghoda Association took on the task of restoring the Cama Hall exteriors.
  • The Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahlaya (formally The Prince of Wales Museum) has been supported by Kala Ghoda Association by way of donation , restoring its library, assisting with annual financial aid towards the restoration of the main building, from 2014 to 2016.
  • The Horniman Circle garden has been upgraded. The garden fencing, garden benches and the gardeners' shed have been restored.
  • The garden of the David Sassoon library was restored in 2014.
  • The heritage facade of the building housing the iconic "Rhythm House" has been resotred in 2015, the side wall façade of the building is artified by a rural, a philanthropic effect courtesy asian paints and the kga.
  • The Bombay Natural History Society (BNHS) has been a benefactor of funds towards the building restoration in 2015
  • The Asiatic Society Library has been a recipient of funds towards their building in 2015
  • The Police Chowki on Rampart Row has been restored by the Association in 2015
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