In 1995, Bhichit Rattakul, the governor of Bangkok at that time, on behalf of BMA, agreed to erect a public contemporary art center on a vacant site at the corner of the Rama 1 intersection. However, a change in leadership delayed the process (there was an attempt to build a mall instead), which led to protests by a number of art and cultural organizations. The dispute ended when Apirak Kosayodhin was elected governor in 2004 and he resumed the project. Four years later, in 2008, BACC opened to the public.
It's been ten years for the Bangkok Art & Culture Centre (BACC). The city’s most recognized cultural institution, is celebrating its 10th anniversary on the edge of a precipice, at a time when it’s experiencing a high point but also facing uncertainty.
Last year, BACC welcomed the biggest number of visitors—1.7 million—since its opening, eliciting a sense of triumph among all those who worked in the center. Finally, it seems like everyone’s hard work was paying off.
But the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA), who legally owns the land BACC is built on, snuffed out the celebratory mood. Earlier in May, appointed Bangkok governer Aswin Kwanmuang expressed his intention to take Bangkok’s largest public art and culture facility under the control of BMA, citing that the center survives due to great support from the administration (around B40 million per year to be precise, which accounts for around half of BACC’s managing budget). He also claimed that BACC doesn’t support the real needs of the people. The statement was shocking, to say the least, especially for those who believe that the art center deserves to be located on prime land.
Though talks and discussions have led to the cancelation of the governor’s proposal (we all know how BMA can fuck up the management of an arts facility), BMA is still unable to provide support to BACC like it has been for the past ten year due to a law contravention that needs to be amended. And without the support of BMA, the future of BACC remains uncertain. Its current director Pawit Mahasarinand has revealed that, with the remaining money they have, BACC can only survive until mid of next year.
It is in these uncertain times that we celebrate ten years of BACC. Ten years of being the driving force of the local art scene. Ten years of igniting our passion for art. Ten years of providing a space where everyone’s voice can be heard, regardless of which side of the argument they’re on. Ten years as an independent organization that’s working to shape the minds of our children.
We celebrate this momentous occasion by getting to know the individuals that have taken part in shaping BACC. After all, no structure comes alive without the hard work and dedication of the people behind it.