Posted in By Malavika Neurekar, Finance & Sustenance, People's Project

When the Art World United: Part II

To read the first part of When the Art World United, click here.

The King and the Peasant

By Malavika Neurekar

Victor Hugo Gomes, made weary by the pace at which his work was taking place, woke up to an unexpected email on the morning of 21st October, 2009. It was a letter from a great Goan artist based in California, Dom Martin, which opened with a small tale:

“In ancient times, a king had a boulder placed on a roadway. Then he hid himself and watched to see if anyone would remove the huge rock. Some of the king’s wealthiest merchants and courtiers came by and simply walked around it. Many loudly blamed the king for not keeping the roads clear, but none did anything about getting the big stone out of the way. Then a peasant came along carrying a load of vegetables. On approaching the boulder, the peasant laid down his burden and tried to move the stone to the side of the road. After much pushing and straining, he finally succeeded. As the peasant picked up his load of vegetables, he noticed a purse lying in the road where the boulder had been. The purse contained many gold coins and a note from the king indicating that the gold was for the person who removed the boulder from the roadway. The peasant learned what many others never understand: every obstacle presents an opportunity to improve our condition.”

The implication of Dom Martin’s allegory became clearer as Victor continued to read the rest of the email. Dom Martin had decided to part with all that remained of his material possessions in Goa, and bequeathed a generous donation to Goa Chitra. Victor trembled with excitement and a certain degree of disbelief as he continued to read. Dom Martin, assuming the role of the ‘king’ and likening Victor to the ‘peasant’ in the story, had also bequeathed upon Victor theeight panels of pen on paper drawings that adorned St. Francis Xavier’s casket at the 1974 exposition; seventy-one original artworks locked up in Martin’s Porvorim flat; and the rights to the Porvorim flat of 140 sqmt!That was not all. The Vincent Xavier Verodiano Foundation, instituted by Dom Martin in memory of his father, was established with the objective of recognising and awarding excellence in various fields such as literature, arts, medicine, etc. The foundation had already conferred the prestigious award upon Victor earlier that same year (which included a cash donation of Rs. 50,000 and a medal), and now Dom Martin had expressed his wish to pass that legacy on to Victor as well, alongside the corpus fund of the Foundation at Victor’s disposal.

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Victor was at a loss of words, and continues to be amazed even today every time he talks about that fateful October morning.In 2014, he launched the Dom Martin art gallery, which stands at the entrance of Goa Chitra, with the stated objective of promoting young local artists. All the works on displayat the gallery have been donated to Goa Chitra, and are for sale as a means of raising revenue for Goa Chitra. At the heart of this interaction is the fact that the two artists did not know each other personally or had even met. Yet, Dom Martin reached to Victor from the other end of the world based solely on Goa Chitra’s merit and the recognition of its struggles. A quick glance at the email correspondences between them reveals that both men harbour a desire to meet in some part of the world some day. An exemplification of how art transcends distance and space to make possible the coming together of like-minded souls, it is perhaps best expressed by Dom Martin himself in his piece The Aesthetic Evolution of Madness.

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The Aesthetic Evolution of Madness…

By Dom Martin

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If eccentricity is genius temperament then a refined madness, which motorizes one to maniacally scavenge for discarded vestiges of the past and metamorphose them into museum exhibits, rightfully deserves to be bestowed a cultural halo.  Victor Hugo Gomes belongs in this genre of madness.

In 2009, when I bequeathed my 3-bedroom flat and the entire collection of my mid 70’s art which was decaying therein, a condescending Victor thanked me profusely.  In the subsequent years, he staked out exorbitant sums of money to restore the art and the flat.

The question foments:  Did one caliber of madness underestimate, supersede or absolve the other?  The verdict is in the wallets of art collectors, which have a tendency to instantly fatten or resurrect upon the demise of artists who labored and continually exhibited within the engulfing walls of oblivion.

Other than for the uncommon commonality of symbiotic madness, Victor and I have yet to meet and perhaps, might never.  However, someday when posterity peers through time’s kaleidoscope, it might likely find our autonomous identity among the colorful, fragmented pieces.  And that, is satisfaction enough!

Posted in By Malavika Neurekar, Finance & Sustenance

When the Art World United: Part I

By Malavika Neurekar

Artists are famous for being individualistic and non-conformist. As a society, we have collectively constructed a cookie-cutter persona of the ‘Lonely Artist’ – eccentric, aloof, often mad. But every once in a while, the creative community reaches out to each other, recognising only too well the struggles and ambitions of their acquaintances. Goa Chitra has actively encouraged such cooperation, hosting a variety of cultural events like performances or book launches. Victor Gomes is grateful that the art community, in turn, has also extended their support in numerous ways. (Case in point – much of the art work posted on Goa Chitra Rewind has been conceptualized and illustrated by Charudatta Ram Prabhudesai, and the layout has been designed by Bismarck Dias).

The sustenance of the Chitra museums has constantly been an uphill battle, and although there have been some disappointments and setbacks, the Goa Chitra story is just as much a story of hope and little victories. One of the strongest waves of support has come from the music community. Victor Gomes’s association with music goes way back to the early 2000s, when he was at the centre of the Great Music Revival. This association was carried forward with Goa Chitra – much after the jazz festivals had become a thing of the past – when musicians volunteered to perform at the museum. Joe Pereira, better known as Jazzy Joe (whose first ever concert in Goa, coincidentally, happened at one of Victor’s Revival concerts in the 90s) performed his last show before passing away in 2013 at Goa Chitra. Legendary musician and stand-up comedian like Ash Chandler and Opera singer, Oscar Castellino performed at Goa Chitra for free, which helped significantly with revenue generation. Many authors who held their book launches at Goa Chitra proceeded to donate some amount of their profit from the sale of the book to the museum as well.

Jazzy Joe Performance at the Great Music Revival '98 captured by Mario Miranda
Mario Miranda’s impressions of Jazzy Joe’s performance at Goa Chitra

As a painter himself, the fine arts have always held a special significance in Victor Gomes’s life. In 2014, Victor Gomes organised a Narrative Art Residency camp to celebrate International Women’s Day, inviting female artists from all over the world. The participating artists had travelled from Delhi, Ahmedabad, Poland, Russia, Germany, and included three local artists as well. The concept was to allow the artists to live at the museum, travel to remote areas of Goa, and interact with tribes and locals. This was to culminate into a series of works produced by them during the camp as an expression of their individual reaction to the experience. Yolanda D’souza, one of the participating artists, produced three paintings: two of which capture her interaction with the rural women, and the third one based on the agricultural implements at the museum. She states thatspending so much time in close proximity to the museum and looking at the collection evoked something that she was best able to express through her art. Mekhla Harrison, in a similar burst of artistic expression, used a blend of techniques to produce her art: black charcoal on paper depicting the tools; watercolours depicting a woman going through fire, based on a local’s narrative; women sowing rice paddy on the field; and a portrait of a village man and his agricultural tools on a red-earth background. Nirupa Naik described the whole experience as wholesome, as they got to interact actively with not only the agricultural implements, ornaments, and costumes used by different communities, but the communities and people themselves. All of the art work created during the camp was exhibited at the Dom Martin Art gallery, inaugurated that same year, and put up for sale. All the proceeds from the sale of these paintings went to the Goa Chitra fund.

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Aside from the Narrative Art Residency Camp, there have been other artist-friends that have voluntarily donated their works to be set up at the Art Gallery. Norman Tagore, who donated to Goa Chitra his award winning painting of a female Rhino with its horn cut off, is grateful to Victor’s support in the past and wished to return the favour. Mohan Naik expressed a similar sentiment, stating that his decision to donate two paintings was taken because he was delighted by the Goa Chitra mission. Charudatta, a dear friend of Victor’s, donated his pieces in order to help Goa Chitra through a financially difficult time. However, it was Rajendra Usapkar who brought home the true spirit in which these donations were made: upon asking him what motivated him to donate his art work to Goa Chitra, he promptly responded that it is of extreme importance that artists reach out and lend a hand to each other. In an age where we tend to live by the ‘survival of the fittest’ instinct, there is something refreshing about the moment when members of a community join hands, allowing talent to be recognised, encouraged, and co-exist.

To see the complete list of artist supporters/donors, click here.

 

Posted in Finance & Sustenance

Artists’ Support

(This article redirects from the main article When the Art World United: Part I)

Book Launches

Writers who chose to release their books at Goa Chitra and donated part or total of the amount received from the publisher/ sale of the book to the museum.

Valmiki Faleiro (“Patriotism in Action”), Pantaleao Fernandes (“Goa Remembered”), Dr. Belinda Viegas (“The Cry of the Kingfisher” and “The Golden Gate and other stories”), Jess Fernandes  (Render Ani Tachem Goem), Alexandre Moniz Barbosa (“Goa Rewound”), Ibonio D’Souza (“Rise And Shine”), Braz Menezes (“Just Matata”), Alexyz, Merle Almeida and Nina Sabnani (“My Godri Anthology”).

Music Performances

Bands and musicians who performed free or at cost to raise funds for the museum

Ash Chandler (Mumbai), Oscar Castellino (UK), Jazzy Joe (Mumbai), PAN DUO (Australia), The Beat Root Blues band (Mumbai), Sandhya Sanjana and Random Access (Amsterdam), Soulmate blues band (Shillong), Netherlands Jazz Trio- Brouwer-Akihary-Bhattacharya (BAB),  Fauzia Maria Beg and Band(Germany), Neil Gomes and the musical prodigies (Elvis Lobo, Carlos Gonsalvesetc), Geetu Hinduja Quartet (Mumbai), Emeliano da Cruz Trio (Goa), Jazz Junction(Goa), The “NEW ELITE” Jazz Band with AnibalCrasto and Yvonne Gonsalves, The Big Bang Blues (BBB) (Delhi), Flypsyde’ –  ABBA tribute band (Mumbai), THE AWESOME 4SOME- Beatles tribute band (Mumbai), Country Silk (Mumbai), Nirmika& The Few Good Men (Mumbai), The Ladies Of Jazz (Goa), ACOUSTRIX (Mumbai), Trio de Assuncao, STUTI Choral Ensemble, Gerad Machado Trio (Bangalore), HFT (Shilong), Thermal and a Quarter TAAQ (Bangalore), Kanchandaniel  with Beesknees (Mumbai), TRUE BLUE (Goa), Steve Sequeira Quintet (Goa), The HyadonBaryton Trio (Budapest), Dischordian (Mumbai), Jacinta Luis quartet (Canada), MininoGaray Band (Argentina), Max Clouth Trio”  (Germany).

Art Donors

Dom Martin, Savia Viegas, Wilson D’souza, Querozito D’souza, Lizel D’souza, Antonio Costa, Condrad Pinto, Shallu Sharma, SaviaD’Costa, Lorreti Pinto, Rajendra Usapkar, Charudatta Ram Prabhudesai, Mohan Naik, Norman Tagore, Nirupa Naik, Mekhla Harrison, Yolanda D’souza etc

Posted in Finance & Sustenance

Encounters with the Artist

By Sanjit Rodrigues

Finance has always been, and often continues to be, a delicate aspect of running the museum. Goa Chitra has run into extreme success as well as points of almost complete bankruptcy. Sanjit Rodrigues’s narrative, in sombre tones, perfectly captures the cyclical ups and downs of the project, the issues of its sustenance, and his own silent doubts regarding the success of Goa Chitra. 


Circa 2000. Senhor Jose Francisco das Angustias Gomes [Victor’s father] was effusive as he led me to the imposing dining table at his home. As much as he loved his home and took in his stride the onerous task of its maintenance, he was proud of the restoration work my friend[Victor] was undertaking to see it sparkle once again, his time, effort and money notwithstanding. Over our large sopero of Sopa Grossa, the conversation veered from how the house has got a great make over, to whether the latest fascination of my friend to have his permanent ethnographic exposition would be a reality, to whether his daughter-in-law-to-be would approve of it. Over another largish helping, this time, I am even more affirmative. A quiet persists. I know what such a pregnant pause would bring. A swig of the local brew and am sternly reminded that my mumble is nothing different. I had said so of something called The Great Music Revival Concerts, The Goan Quest, and……the list would just elongate….just to show the fickleness, idiosyncrasy and the tumult of my friend. But with affirmations and questions in equal measure, the evening fades away gracefully as many such encounters I would have after a gruelling day at work in South Goa.

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Mr. Sanjit Rodrigues and Mr. Angustias Dias; Illustration by Charudatta Ram Prabhudesai

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Encounters with the artist, ethnographer, event organiser, restorer, and an argumentative Goan are many. I am shown the area which would house his passion. It would start as an organic farm. Over pez and kharem on a harvest day, I dare not dishearten him. I have flashes of pessimism running high, but egg him on. We talk legalese: permissions, licensing, registration. It would be the longest haul he has undertaken so far, I mutter to myself, keeping a straight face. Days go by, we meet off and on. Work is drudgery at the site…workers, locals, the Mamlatdar, the Panchayat, finance….every meeting is an argument. I know there is no quick fix for this pestilence. I am just turning into a good listener for once.

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It’s long that we have met now, the place is nearing completion. I visit it not knowing what to expect. It’s a revelation. I am speechless and stunned. He has just out done himself. His child-like passion, intensity of thought, and focus on his direction is just mind boggling. His creation opens up. Every one raises a toast. Reviews run riot. Promises are made. As the who’s-who trace their steps back and reality dawns, the humungous task of running this marvel is left to him alone.

He gets his pangs yet again. How does he get the foot falls? How does he sustain? How does he grow? Arguments again. An absolute no to what now is very Goan. No treats and freebies to travel agents. No commissions to touts, guides and taxi drivers. No to politician ribbon cuttings. No to commercial offers. You remain inclined and preferential but this marvel is for posterity and agnostic to all, I argue. But then only time would make one discover this institution. It has to be an experience centre. It has to get into your skin. Patience has never been his hallmark, but he better build it I say.

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It has to grow.  Governments pretend to recognise the effort. How does he realise that such missives normally do not see the light of day? That you cannot come trumps with a maze of rules, regulations, and notifications. He tries, only to get disheartened all over. Proposals are typed, statements are culled, calls are made, nothing works. Can’t they understand the need to record these treasures, the security of the artefacts, upkeep of the precinct to save something for posterity? How do I tell him it’s beyond comprehension and yet sound truthful? Instead discussions now veer towards how to institutionalise the marvel. People with such passion and resolve are few to come by. Who would immerse himself to take it forward?Trials and tribulations abound.A Trust needs to take over, he says…for it’s our child left to grow and needs to be looked after. Again he is his solitary self.

Days pass by. Calls I used to receive to let me know the count of visitors of the day have stopped since long. Counts are not possible any longer. It’s a pilgrimage to revere the past and enlighten our steps into the future. And when I see a Robert D’Niro or Kiran Desai, JayantNarlikar or VinodRai,OrhanPamuk or Gulzar quietly weave their way through its labyrinths; when I read it of it on my copy of theTime or see of it on BBC,whenNatGeoTraveller goes there and the RoughGuide, LonelyPlanetet al flag it, I know the time of this creation has come.

Sorry Victor, for once you have created something larger than you. Something’s got better of you. Goa Chitra will speak longafter we are all gone.


Sanjit-Rodrigues Photo.jpgSanjit Rodrigues has been a part of the Goa Civil Services, holding various positions relating to infrastructure, urban development, revenue administration, tourism and industries. He has been the Municipal Commissioner of Panjimand the CEO for the International Film Festival of India (IFFI). As Managing Director of Goa Infrastructure Development Corporation, he is spearheading large infrastructure projects across various sectors in Goa with a focus on speedy implementation and high quality. One of the deliverables on his plate is the third bridge over River Mandovi.

 

Posted in Early Ventures, Finance & Sustenance

Restoration and Funding

By Carmita Noronha

Victor Hugo’s personal journey, growth, and development are a fundamentally integral part of the birth and success of Goa Chitra. He took everything from his past professions – the residual anger and disappointment, the love and passion, the experiences and lessons, and the money and resources – and pumped it into the Goa Chitra project. Carmita Noronha and her son, Oscar Noronha were one of Victor’s earliest clients, and in the following story, she discusses Victor’s early restoration days.


It was May 2006 when we came to Goa on a brief visit to complete the formalities that one has to endure on the death of a husband and a father. My husband had bought a monstrous ruin in Loutolim village, South Goa with the intention of restoring it himself.  However, he died shortly afterwards and the task of restoring this monstrosity fell onto our shoulders – my son and I.

Then we were introduced to Victor.  Having agreed to take on our project, he took us for several drives around various villages to show us his other restoration projects, which were pretty impressive, and that was that – we had decided. It was on these drives that we also saw another side to Victor – his great love for good food.  He took us to little known places each specialising in different food items – we had crabs at Esperanca’s in Rachol and a great Goan fish thali at Sharda’s in Fatorda and others I can’t recall.  And we thought, “what a great combination – a foodie and a restorer!”

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Looking for alternative ways to fund Goa Chitra. Illustration by Charudatta Ram Prabhudesai.

Victor’s planning and organisational skills were absolutely spot on – he gave us his schedule, according to which the entire project was to be completed in 7 months. Simply unbelievable, we thought.  Given the state of various other work we had had seen in Goa, we did not believe that Victor would ever complete on time – he did!

Even more amazing was the fact that we were not in Goa for site inspections or to make changes as work progressed. It was distance managing – and Victor did it all. His dedication and attention to detail are phenomenal as is his good taste.  He corrected the proportions of the French windows, the flooring, ceiling, extensions in the right places, a grand entrance, and wrap-around balcony. Thus, an absolute ruin was transformed into an amazing Goan house, beautifully landscaped and terraced.

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In addition to restoring the house, we had also asked him to furnish it and to look out for reasonably priced antiques. It was on this antique furniture finding mission that Victor also started searching for and acquiring objects for what was to be Goa Chitra. He got us amazing bargains including lighting and other fixtures. I went with Victor on two such trips and found him rummaging into a heap of what looked like old junk. I clearly remember him explaining to us that they were in fact units of measure for grain.  He struck a bargain with the antique dealer and took away these items to be painstakingly restored by the faithful Chacha – a great man who was Victor’s man Friday!

Victor later told us that it was the fee he earned on this project that enabled him to take forward his great dream of having an ethnographic museum in Goa – we’re delighted to be a small part of Victor’s amazing project and heritage for Goa.


Carmita Noronha studied MBA in the UK and has worked for British Council as Head Grant in Aid Finance. Her son, Oscar de Sequeira Nazareth, has done his BSc Honours at Cass Business School, UK; is the owner of Licor Armada; and the president of the Indo Portuguese Chamber of Commerce.  He has worked at Marsh & McLennan, London and Deutsch Bank, London as an Investment Banker. After living for almost 25 years in Coimbra, Portugal, and London, Carminta and Oscar returned to Goa in 2012.

Oscar carminta

 

 

Posted in By Malavika Neurekar, Finance & Sustenance

To Fund a Museum: Part II

To read the first part of To Fund a Museum, click here.

By Malavika Neurekar

In 2009,with help from Dr. Paulo Varela Gomes, Victor Hugo was invited to Portugal on aFundacao Orient(Foundation of the Orient) scholarship. There, he engaged in dialogue with persons holding important posts in the museum world, alongside visiting anthropological and ethnographic museums and academic research centres. It also gave him an opportunity to interact with the Goans in Portugal and spread awareness about his vision for Goa. On the last dayof his visit, he was part of a talk on Goan architecture at Casa Da Goa. In his speech, he evoked the nostalgia of the fellow Goans present in the audience, describing Goa as “an ailing grandmother” in urgent need of care and revival. He spoke about the need for a worldwide campaign to generate an escrow fund for the security and maintenance of the museum. He urged people to donate, not out of obligation but out of a sense of responsibility, inviting a minimum donation of even one Euro so young children could participate. At the end of his speech, the then Member of Parliament of Goan Origin in Portugal handed Victor two Euros. “On behalf of Casa de Goa,” he said.

Over the years, there have been many open-hearted gestures of generosity that have supplemented Goa Chitra’s financing. One such example that dates back to much before Goa Chitra even opened to the public was that of the brothers, Marcos and Oswald Cardozo. It was the year 2008. The museum collection was in place, the architecture complete, but visitors and guests arrived only through word-of-mouth recommendations. Goa Chitra had neither received widespread media coverage, nor earned a spot on the ‘must-visit’ list of most tourist guides. Why did so much time lapse between actually setting up the place and publicly inaugurating it on 2nd November 2009? It was a question put forth by Marcos Cardozo of Ruby Realtors Pvt. Ltd. Victor’s reply was simply due to the fear of lack of security. A few days later, Victor received a call from a company called Zicom based in Bangalore inquiring about his address. They were on their way to install the security equipment. “I haven’t placed an order,” Victor told them. He was taken aback by the response he received from the other end of the line. A company called Ruby Realtors had placed the order and taken care of the payments. Victor was touched by this display of benevolence. Another such example was Leo Pereira of L&L Builders undertook the responsibility of making cash payments to the security guard for the first year after Goa Chitra’s inauguration.

Funders final

Jump to 2015. Victor was heading a heritage trail for two visitors, Mr. Hans Van Wijk and Mr. Willem Philipse from Belgium. He frequently holds interactive heritage walks and tours, taking interested people to the state’s unexplored and off-beat locations, as a part of earning revenue for Goa Chitra. He took Mr. Wijk and Mr. Philipse to the interiors of the state, giving them a firsthand experience of a Goa they had never seen before.It was much after the departure of the two men that Victor found out that they were, in fact, Aerodata founders who had done the Arial survey and photography of the world for Google and Microsoft! He was even more astonished when, after a few weeks, he received a cash donation from Hans Van Wijk via a bank transfer.

Cash donations to Goa Chitra have been made by individuals as well as organizations. The cultural committee of the Goan Overseas Association in Toronto organized a one-day interactive speaker’s presentation called Your Goa 101 on 7th May, 2011. This was initiated by a young Goan diaspora from Canada who had visited Goa Chitra on a Know Goa programme. The goal of this interactive session was to educate the Goan diaspora in Toronto about the rich heritage and culture of Goa.  The committee also decided to use the event to raise funds for Goa Chitra and raised 120 Canadian dollars as their contribution. The Goan community in California, via a fund-raising drive by the NGO Goa Sudharop, have also raised Rs. 50,000.The long list of cash donors includes Dom Martin, Helmut Rockemann, Angustias Gomes, Marcos & Oswald Cardozo, Helga Gomes and Joaquim Goes, Leo Pereira, Evencio Quadros, Sampooran Singh Kalra Gulzar, Mario Pereira, Philip Neri Rodriques, Ana Theresa Braganza e Rodriques, Sushant Tari,  Vince Costa, Dr. Bellinda Viegas, Romila Cota Carvalho, Shaila Faleiro, Braz Menezes, Merle Almeida, Dr. Hubert Gomes, Charrudatta Prabhudesai, Dr. Marina and Tony Correa Afonso, Dr. Bailon De Sa family, Mr. Percival Noronha, Dr. Deepa & Bala Iyer, Valmiki Faleiro, Adv. Sarto Almeida, Agnelo and Patricia Pinto, Anoop and Savia Babani, Fatima Gomes and Maria Luz Gomes Rebello besides 150 odd members who annually renew their Goa Chitra membership. Then there were those who contributed in kind to help with the infrastructure of the museum. Leo Pereira, Marcus Cardozo, and Oswald Cardozo donated construction material; Sushant Tari and Manish Sadekar supplied labour to paint some of the structures at no cost; and the Pai Kane Group gave a discount on the purchase of the generator. Victor is also grateful to suppliers Pankaj Kakode (Kakode Trading LLP) and Ramdas Kakode (R. P. Kakode), Khope Agencies, and M/s Anand G. Sardesai and metal fabricator Blaize Brito who gave him credit time for payment. It is because of contributions such as these that Victor has not given up hope when it comes to the sustenance of Goa Chitra. He remains forever indebted to their generosity.

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May God Bless You (Thank you)”; Illustration by Charudatta Ram Prabhudesai
Posted in Finance & Sustenance

The Day the Music Died

By Devika Sequeira

Undertaking the funding of a museum is a Herculean task. It becomes especially difficult when one is a man of principle, refusing to sell out to big corporate entities, and when the repeated government assurances and promises are followed by with silence and inactivity. Senior journalist Devika Sequeira, a close friend of Victor and Aldina, recalls being a witness to one of the low points of in the financing of Goa Chitra.


The dreary monsoon weather seemed to reflect on the sombre mood at the small gathering. There couldn’t have been more than seven or eight of us sitting in the large balcony that served as Victor and Aldina’s drawing room-cum bar-cum dining room with its clutter of period furniture. I recall meeting an odd assortment of people there over the years in the evenings, always accompanied by a generous spread of Goan food and drink and loud conversation. There was once even a police inspector. Odd, I thought. But then again, who says cops can’t socialise off-duty?

But this was different. There was no music, laughter, and certainly no open bar – a trademark of the Gomes’ hospitality. What was being discussed on that rainy day in somewhat funereal tones was that Victor’s dream of setting up a museum of all things Goan, rooted in its red earth, its soil and soul, might quite simply end up in a poof. The couple had hit rock bottom financially. Victor had tapped into the last of his and Aldina’s savings, building the extensions that would house the museum and splurging on some ancient hoe or cart wheel that had caught his eye in a remote village in Maharashtra or Karnataka where he had found a Goan connection. The security for the place was itself costing a fortune.

Where do we go from here? Victor was asking. The other couple at the gathering that day were living in the USA. There were international grants available for projects to do with native cultural heritage. The Gomes’ could tap these, but a convincing project proposal was a must, they advised. Victor looked sceptical. One could visualise the calculations of the impediments and complexities of getting foreign funding running through his mind. How about corporate funding, I asked. That was shot down immediately. Victor wasn’t prepared to name the museum after a mine-owner, or part with a dominant share in its stake to a corporate entity. A government grant was still a possibility, I suggested. Victor had tried it but received zero response, as expected. It did seem like the end of the road.

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“First deposit, then withdraw”; Illustration by Charudatta Ram Prabhudesai

It would be months before I ran into the Gomes’ again. In his lowest moment when he was beginning to think he’d be forever saddled with a stillborn project and a flutter of dreams unresolved, a benefactor—a Goan one at that—had come knocking at his door, Victor said. I have no idea where Goa Chitra’s money came from or does and how the Gomes manage to run such a huge private space and all its many activities. But I can testify to a sense of complete amazement when I saw the birth of the first phase of the museum. It seemed to have sprung out from the earth. What was till then just a vegetable garden had overnight been turned into a quirky space for the most unusual of exhibits. Victor’s passion as a collector of the past had now a space for public viewing, but the concept and design appeared to have abandoned the services of an architect or engineer, giving the whole a rather impromptu, artsy look – quite unique for a museum.

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I was back at Goa Chitra last year to show some guests around. The larger open areas have naturally shrunk with the hall for the exhibition of carriages. Goa Chitra could perhaps do with a larger space. I’m sure Victor’s dreams have expanded since that ominous monsoon evening. Did I ever believe Goa Chitra would get off the ground? Not for one moment, I didn’t. Which is why I continue to be amazed every time I see it.

 

 

 


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Devika Sequeira is an independent journalist based in Goa. She has worked for several media publications like the Indian Express, Deccan Herald, The Week, O Heraldo and Goa Today. She is currently a contributor to The Times of India, Deccan Herald and The Wire.

 

 

Posted in By Malavika Neurekar, Finance & Sustenance

To Fund a Museum: Part I

By Malavika Neurekar

Every year on 29th October, early morning, a young Victor Gomes received a kiss on his forehead and a small amount of cash through a fixed deposit in his name. This had been his mother’s birthday gift to him for the better part of his childhood.

Diligently saving the cash for years, Victor finally broke the deposit when it was time for Goa Chitra to materialise from his imagination onto his private stretch of property. Victor and Aldina pooled together their savings – pounding all of their jewellery in the process – and invested it into the future of Goa Chitra. Victor even sold the properties he had previously bought in Pomburpa, Maina, Curtorim, and a flat in Benaulim. Whether it is because of the amount spent on acquiring different artefacts for the museum collection or the concern for expenditure on museum security, the couple has walked a tightrope when it comes to funding the project.

Victor has received extreme reactions for his choice of professions – from coming across as an individual with diverse interests and talents, to someone who jumps from job to job without any apparent direction. However one may choose to see it, it was because of the range of experience he had that he was able to reach out to people from different fields while setting up Goa Chitra. His previous experience in organising events came in handy, as he started to hold Great Music Revival concerts at Goa Chitra. Fifty percent of the revenue from the music festivals is retained as the corpus of Goa Chitra to be employed for its maintenance, and the other fifty is used towards the expenses incurred to organize the concerts. The income of the museum comprises twenty percent of the gate fees. The Goa Chitra team also started the idea of Goa Chitra Club Membership. Members, who pay an annual fee of Rs. 5000 as privilege members and Rs. 2000 as individual members, are allowed a sixty percent discount on all music events organised by Goa Chitra, and are allowed free entry to the museum. The guests brought by the members also get a 40 percent discount on museum entry and concerts.

Victor often likes to remind people: “Goa Chitra is my passion, but restoring houses is my profession.” Having completed a restoration course from INATCH in Lucknow, Victor restores old houses to retain their Indo-Portuguese ethos. Dr. Aldina Gomes, who teaches Psychology at Carmel College and pens editorials for The Everyday Goan, explains that the two use their collective salary towards the Goa Chitra cause rather than splurge on extravagant indulgences.

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Goa Chitra has attracted many international, national and local VVIP’s besides personalities like the former Union Minister of Tourism, Ms. Kumari Selja; the former Governor of Goa, His Excellency Dr. S.S.Sidhu; former Chief Ministers, Mr. Digambar Kamat and Mr. Manohar Parrikar; former member of Parliament, Mr. Francisco Sardinha; former Tourism Minister of Goa, Mr. Micky Pacheco; Minister for Museums, Ms. Alina Saldanha; former minister for Revenue, Mr. Jose Philip D’Souza; Minister of Fisheries, Mr. Avertano Furtado; MLA, Caitu D’Silva; former and present Chairman, Goa Tourism Development Corporation, Mr. Shaym Satedekar and Mr. Nilesh Cabral; Mr. Patel, husband of former President of India, Ms. Pratiba Patel.

The personality that is Victor Hugo Gomes is part visionary, part tragic hero – having borne the brunt of empty promises and false hopes. A host of well-known companies, corporate bodies/industry associations and even the state government have promised support to Goa Chitra numerous times, but to no avail. Goa Chitra was left to survive off the self-sponsorship and the individual donation of some generous souls. It was a former editor of a then-popular newspaper and a close friend of Victor who advised him to bring in well-known names. A well-known name in the mining industry sought to acquire and undertake the funding of Goa Chitra at Rs. 50 lakh, on the condition of renaming it to reflect the interests of the benefactor. Victor refused. Under no condition would he allow the name of the museum to be attributed to an individual. “It may technically be a private museum,” he explains passionately. “But the collection belongs to the people.” Neither would he compromise on his principles, nor would he allow his lifetime’s toil to be assigned a monetary value. This is not to say that he is against the involvement of corporate entities altogether. He accepts, in fact encourages, all forms of constructive participation. However, he believes that – as is the common practice in the West – grants should be an extension of recognition, not a means to establish a quid pro quo situation.

There have been positives too. During his tenure as the Director of Tourism, Mr. Swapnil Naik facilitated the printing of the Goa Chitra brochures and Goa Chitra was offered a payment to set up a stall at Goa’s annual International Travel Mart. On the initiative of Mr. Prasad Lolyencar, the director of Art and Culture, the state Government provided a part funding for Goa Chitra’s initiative Goan Quest – a weekly programme showcasing the intangible heritage of Goa to the World.

Update: Read the second part of the series here.

Posted in Finance & Sustenance

Museum and Money Matters

By Anoop Babani

Just like it is easy to assume that Goa Chitra space used to formerly be a private home, another common assumption to make is that the collection and the resources on which the museum runs comes significantly from inherited property. In the following piece, Anoop Babani dispels these preconceived notions, giving the readers an insider’s perspective about the funding of Goa Chitra.


I met Victor Hugo Gomes just when he was starting out less than a decade ago. His mission was to preserve Goan (indeed, human) heritage and to live with it. And how could one do it? Well, build a museum just below your bedroom! That’s exactly what he and his gracious wife, Aldina, chose to do.

From the beginning, Victor came across as one of those guys who was undaunted by the challenges he was to face, and very confident and committed. He put his hard earned money where his mouth was – quite unlike many other young, propertied Goans who were busy buying a yacht or a Ferrari in exchange for ancestral lands. I cared two hoots if someone was to sink his yacht or crash his luxury car, but was definitely concerned, indeed worried, about Victor’s venture. That’s why our meetings and discussions in those early days invariably veered around financial viability of  Goa Chitra, the first in a series of museums ‘below the bedroom’. I understood money, albeit moderately, having spent almost four decades in analyzing corporate sector and dabbling in stock markets. So, we would often talk about revenue streams, return on investment, one-time corpus, gestation period, gate fees, and so forth.

There was one difference though. In my early working life, money matters were discussed in close-door air-conditioned rooms. With Victor, these deliberations always took place in South Goa’s open-air country bars over endless rounds of what he calls ‘kop’. And these financial summits would invariably end in the wee hours of morning, with Victor proclaiming: “Listen man, I will continue to chase my mission. Money will follow.”

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“Where will the money come from?; Illustration by Charudatta Ram Prabhudesai

Money did flow, but not smoothly. Victor and Aldina used to organize musical and cultural evenings to raise working funds for Goa Chitra. Victor himself received several sponsorship and even lucrative sale/partnership offers which he rejected outright. “How can I part with my baby, man,” Victor would exclaim. Fortunately, Goa Chitra began to gain traction – first among school and college children, and then among the local populace. However, the fee-paying footfalls increased dramatically once the conscious Indian and overseas tourists to Goa began to look beyond sun, sea and sand and scout for experiences in the local heritage. Victor gauged the opportunity and began tweaking his marketing plans to attract high-end, heritage conscious visitors to the museum. Simultaneously, he expanded the complex to include two new museums – Goa Chakra and Goa Cruti.

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To sustain and further expand the display of his vast collection, Victor is currently tying up with international agencies and building high-end residential infrastructure to extend a holistic experience to potential visitors. This model is bound to succeed. To that extent, I am happy that Victor today understands money more than me. Victor has created an institution unique to his own personality and style. No doubt, it will be copied but never the way he built it.


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Anoop Babani is a post-graduate in Economics from University of Mumbai. He has specialized in building business databases, first as a founder-member of India’s largest and most-respected think tank, Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy, and then as database head at the Press Trust of India (PTI). A journalist for more than 30 years, he has worked with PTI, Times of India, Update magazine, Herald Review magazine and Business India magazine. Presently, he is building a selective and qualitative database of World and Indian Cinema.