Bangkok Art and Culture Centre Background

The Inception

The idea of having an art centre for the general public has been under consideration for sometime amidst the lack of support for the arts from the state. Successive governments have been blind to the importance of intellectual development and creativity in the national development policy. This need became a rallying cry for the Thai Artists’ Network in their campaign for the building a contemporary art centre, to be current with international trends and fulfilling the national pride, and to provide a place for art and cultural learning in the context of the advancing material culture. The art centre for people should be supported by government as a non-profit public entity. Building an art centre is akin to building an ‘infrastructure for the brain’ In other words, it is providing the 'software' development to match that of the 'hardware'.

Building an art centre at the chosen area of the Pathumwan Junction makes sense: it is an area much frequented by youths, and the art centre has the potential to attract young people to participate in art and cultural activities, to learn and express themselves, at the same time becoming part of their recreational pursuits.

The Campaign

The art centre project began in 1995 when Dr.Bhichit Rattakul, the Bangkok Governor, agreed to the Jubilee Art Celebration Committee that the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration would build the “Bangkok Contemporary Art Centre” at the Pathumwan junction with the cooperation of both parties. However, the project was suspended when Bangkok elected a new governor in 2001. The project was reconsidered to become a commercial retail space with the investment coming from private investors. Artists and many cultural organizations, and the press protested against the change.

When Apirak Kosayodhin became the Bangkok Governor in 2004, the Artists’ Network presented the art centre project to the newly elected Governor, who agreed to have the art centre built according to the design following the original concept.

A campaign activity for the art centre, 2004

Art centre for people

The campaign advocating for the Bangkok Art and Culture Centre by then took over a decade. Finally, the construction began at the Pathumwan Junction site, with the cooperation and support of the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration and the People’s Network for the Bangkok Art and Culture Centre. Bangkok finally has a major art centre for its inhabitants. It is a place for people to meet, and to help define and make culture.