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Look who’s banking on art

business Updated: Jul 28, 2007 02:56 IST
Ripu Daman Singh
Ripu Daman Singh
Hindustan Times
Highlight Story

Banks have found an aesthetic way to reach out to customers: sponsor an art show or be a part of an event that promotes artists to please patrons. Major names like HSBC, Citibank and ABN Amro have already wooed clients by hosting art dos. And now Barclays, a foreign bank, is entering the Indian market this week with an art show called High On Art.

“It’s a good way to reach high network individuals,” says Niten Mehta of YaWeDo International, Barclays’ creative partner in India. With art becoming a fast growing industry, most banks are cashing in, any which way. It helps that Indian art is setting a global benchmark. So, in the words of Samir Bhatia, Managing Director, Barclays banking in India: “We’re proud to be associated with Indian artists.”

Art as an investment is no longer a niche affair. “The trend is mainstream now. Banks are getting into it because their clients are into it. It’s about providing quality service to customers,” says art historian Bhavna Kakar.

And it’s a good platform for budding artists, too. Agrees Malini Thadani, head of public affairs, HSBC: “Besides providing a window to appreciate art for our customers, we also encourage young talent.” Citibank has taken the trend a step further — they’ve introduced customer care service to help patrons know what’s happening in the art circuit, by referring them to a specified art gallery to grasp art trends while investing.

Artists, however, feel that sponsoring an event does not necessarily lead to art appreciation.

“True involvement on the part of corporates in art is yet to happen,” says artist Nupur Kundu, who is part of the upcoming Barclays art show. Banking and painting still have miles to go before they truly meet.