That's how bad the funding row has got.
Following long-running problems with insufficient funding, the Bangkok Art and Culture Centre (BACC), the capital's premier publicly funded art space, announced yesterday that it would need to cut its water supply.
The BACC's director, Pawit Mahasarinand, held an official press conference yesterday (Sep 26), during which he outlined the severity of their lack of funding from the Bangkok Metropoitan Administration (BMA), which originally assigned the BACC a yearly budget of B40 million on its opening in 2008.
“We received a notice letter from Provincial Waterworks Authority this morning, alerting us that our water would be cut on Sep 26, which is today,” said Pawit. "If you need to go to the bathroom, you better hurry,” he added, jokingly.
Pawit also admitted that they are considering to shorten the opening hours, which are currently 10am-9pm. The new hours would see BACC open from 11am-8pm in order to help save on utility bills.
According to BACC officials, the center stopped receiving BMA funding last August. In May this year, Bangkok Governor Asawin Kwanmuang announced plans to commercialize more elements of the non-profit BACC, much to the dismay of the local art community.
"We will lease the ground floor area in order to earn more money so as to cut the losses. We will convert the exhibition floors into a new learning centre. We will hold a meeting on May 15 to find a final solution to this issue,” the governor was reported as saying in the Nation. The governor later backed away from these claims.
Governor Asawin also took to his Facebook yesterday (Sep 26) to ask the people people of Bangkok to consider two main points: firstly, that the BMA has dropped the idea of trying to take over BACC; secondly, that “It’s not that BMA doesn’t give funding to BACC, but we really can’t even. We have tried three times already but still got rejected by the government.”
Local art lovers and artists have founded a petition on the change.org platform to help raise support for the BACC. It currently stands just 1,000 signatures short of its 25,000 goal. The hashtag #saveyourbacc is also trending on social media platforms.
In related news, Dr. Apinan Poshyananda, Chief Executive and Artistic Director of Bangkok Art Biennale 2018 (BAB), was also one of yesterday's speakers, telling the crowd, “we will do whatever it takes to make the event [BAB] happen. We are willing to work around the circumstances even if I have to carry buckets of water to the artists.”
The BACC is set to be one of the principal venues for BAB 2018, which kicks off on Oct 19 and runs all the way through until Feb 3, 2019, showcasing 75 artists from 33 countries.
If all goes to plan, the BACC will host the Marina Abramovic Institute’s groundbreaking long-duration performances with a new work called The Method, held from Oct 19-Nov 11. Serbia-hailing Abramovic is a Golden Lion winner and the subject of New York MoMA’s biggest ever performance art exhibition.
Opened in 2008, the BACC is Bangkok’s premier art and is located amid the gleaming malls of Siam, one of the capital's prime areas for foot-traffic. The centre welcomed over 1.7 million visitors in 2017. Its exhibitions are also known for their occasionally provocative subject matter.
As of this morning (Sep 27) the water is still running.