In the last two weeks of March, culture crawlers look out for Mumbai's first festival dedicated exclusively to the work of young and established photographers from India and abroad. Called Focus Festival, the event takes place across multiple locations in the city, and brings together several local artistes to produce an expansive program of exciting exhibitions and events.
Planning a festival this elaborate could not have been easy for the organisers, but they succeeded by setting up a crowd-funding campaign on Wishberry (Indian crowd-funding portal). “Corporate funding for the arts in general is relatively nascent in India, but companies are really starting to see the value of aligning their brand with visual arts projects in particular,” says Elise Foster Vader Elst, co-founder, Focus Festival. “In the early stages, everyone we spoke to was so excited about Focus, and wanted to help us get it off the ground, but we had no way to formalise this. Thanks to the crowd-funding platform, we were able to offer them gifts in exchange for their contributions, and acquired the seed fund to get the project started,” she adds.
Two important highlights of the event include A Fantastic Legacy, a comprehensive show that explores the rich 19th history of photography in Mumbai through over 100 original photographs; and A Photograph is Not An Opinion, which showcases work by eminent female photographers. Apart from these shows, there are other exhibits that will be showcased at multiple locations in Colaba, Kala Ghoda and Lower Parel. The festival will also organise open libraries, film screenings and a free portfolio reviews for young photographers.