We’re involved in art and culture because we can’t help it
When Annette & Thomas Tingstrup started Tings Kathmandu in Kathmandu back in 2010 they found the local art scene exciting. But after a year in Kathmandu they found most of the art and culture events very boring.
Most of the art & cultural events that we have experienced in the years we’ve lived in Nepal have been money machines for the local organizers behind. Only on very few occasions have we witnessed new interesting art and culture, that thrills us. Otherwise there is always an organization and/or an Embassy involved who have another agenda compared to the involved artists.
To create and express their passions is far from the performing artists primary goal. To get fast access to the huge international culture funds is what most of are going for – in order to cover their materials. Where is the anger, the humor, the desperation, the sex and all the other teelings and emotions young artists around the world are dying to get out? We can’t see in the art! That’s why the Nepalese art scene is boring and predictable.
Annette & Thomas
Art@Tings believes that art and culture is at least as important as food, water, medicine, education and the other areas the international programs focus on
Neither Annette nor Thomas are art specialists – and never pretend to be. They just love art and culture and the people behind.
They are art lovers with a huge experience as ‘users’ from thousands of exhibitions, concerts, movies, theater performances, shows etc from all over the world.
Through their many artist & gallery friends from all parts of the world, their more than 30 years of experience in working with creative and creativity, and their hands-on involvement in art and culture projects, they also have a good behind-the-scenes insight.
So they are not afraid of challenging the local art scene. They know at least as much about the Nepalese art industry as the best galleries and cultural professionals in Kathmandu.
Art@Tings is the platform they use for their art and culture involvement.
Art@Tings grew from from Tings Tea Lounge & Lounge Hotel in Kathmandu in Nepal.
Tings Tea Lounge & Lounge Hotel – or just Tings as travelers call our small premises in Lazimpat – is a business concept we created 15 years ago during our 12-month around the world trip.
In 2009 we left Copenhagen to execute this idea that by then had developed into a very detailed and operational business plan.
The core idea behind Tings is to set up a small Hotel Business where Annette & Thomas employ talented young boys and girls to run the place, based on same business principles they know and used in the business world.
Almost all foreign businesses here in Nepal are subsidized. Tings is NOT. We don’t want to and we don’t need it. Actually money is not that important here. 95% of all the Danish subsidized B2B projects we have witnessed the last 15 years don’t exist anymore. Not because of finances – but because the business plan either didn’t exist or was too bad. What Nepal needs is good business plans.
When we came to Nepal there were more than 500 hotels & guesthouses in the valley.
Still it took us less than a year to establish ourselves without help from guide books, with out agents and without traditional marketing. Tings is based on a detailed and very operational business plan including a positioning strategy focused on a gap, we saw in the market. Our communication strategy is PR & Online only.
It was very easy. So we just did the same kind of planning for Art@Tings – made a plan.
At first sight Tings is a small casual Hotel and Lounge. But there is another side to Tings, that most guests don’t know about.
Tings is the platform we use for our involvement in developing and nurturing young talent: In the local Start Up Business Environment, The local art & culture scene, the local media world or any of the other areas where we feel we have something to share and sufficient experience & insights to make a difference.
Art@Tings wants to inspire and motivate the local art & culture scene
Art@Tings uses lots of resources on helping local creative talent with their art and cultural projects. They also create their own cultural projects. Art exhibition by international artists that Annette & Thomas feel is needed in Kathmandu, music they miss or just things they experience during their travels and which could as well be happening in Kathmandu.
That is our way to inspire others.
We create our own projects because we hope the local art & culture scene understands us when we say that we find Kathmandu very boring.
But we also want to show everybody how easy it is to create a festival or an event without funding and interference from organizations and embassies.
You can say we give them a loving kick in the ass.
In the years Art@Tings has been operating in Nepal, the company has taken the initiative and created a number of groundbreaking projects such as: ReConceptionsOfJazz, Kathmandu International MusikFilmFestival, ArtPashminas by TingsTing as well as a number of other minor secret events within genres Nepal would otherwise never get access to.
Visual Art means a lot to Annette & Thomas and represents a big part of Art@Tings activities
It took Art@Tings more that two years before they made their first art exhibition with local art only. And another two years to establish Art@Tings as a small, but serious alternative to the few established galleries in the Kathmandu.
And with the Copenhagen Art Space Limbo’s local version LimboNepal Art@Tings set new standards for Curating, Creativity & Creating.
No Fucking Sponsor – the art and the exhibits are ours!
No Fucking Sponsor – Thomas’ favorite tagline from the Danish music business in the 80s – is what guides Art@Tings in their doings. Not because they are afraid of sponsors – not at all. Actually they work together with sponsors in their own projects. Both local Brands and Media are curious and very interested in whats going on internationally and want to get involved in their projects. But they only work with sponsors who accept the artistic integrity 100%.
When we work with visual artist we need to get the energy back to them. Give them 100% freedom to create what they are passionate about without fear of interference from others.
That’s only possible if we nobody else has a say. So no sponsors
You may think that it’s about your heroes, and that’s OK. But why don’t you think big? To me Prasad is a Manifestation of a Generation. Call it that – the press will love it.
Thomas’ advice to Sadhu-X from ArtLab when they asked if Art@Tings would help them with their Prasad Project.
Prasad@Tings is not only the best selling art project to date. ArtLab’s manifest was spread around Nepal with the help of a unified press.
Art@Tings involvement is always deliberate and considerate. Everything is based on experience, knowledge and insight
Virtually all foreigners in Nepal are here through an Embassy, an NGO or a company. And most of them are on fixed-term contract.
Annette and Thomas came there alone, with their business plan and more than 25 years of professional experience from the international business world, specializing in media, marketing and start-up culture. Everything that they have been doing during the years they have been in town, is funded by themselves.
Our international business experience & our work with communication, art & culture together with our more than 6 years in Kathmandu is quite unique in Nepal. We don’t know others who have the same.
At the same time we are 100% independent – we do not have a diplomatic career or a future position in an International Organization to take into account. And we fund everything ourselves… .
Everything we create is not only honest – it is also based on our experience from our cultural work through time, our knowledge of art and culture and not least our insight into the Nepalese culture – so if it doesn’t work it’s not because we’re not well prepared. But most important – we only work with people we like.
The reason why it took so long, is simply that the Nepalese art scene – as seen with their international glasses – is rather dull
According to Art@Tings there are 5 reasons for that:
- The university & art academy ‘educates’ too many artists.
Compared to the talent pool and the commercial art market the art institutions educates too many artists. There are simply too few art buyers for all the so-called artists, and the creative industry is too small to employ those who will never make it as artists.
- Art Education is a far from the international standards.
One crucial thing is missing at the university: Art History. The subject simply does not exist the way it does outside Nepal. So unless the students familiarize themselves with the subject, they are lost.
- The commercial art market lacks professionalism.
Galleries, as we know them from the rest of the world, do not exist. The existing galleries have no profile and work without direction. They do not have neither the necessary art insight, nor the relevant international art contacts to make a difference for the artists.Their strength lies primarily in contacts to the international government funds as well as contacts to the ‘Charity Funded’ Projects in other countries.
- Professional and educated Art critics don’t exist in Nepal
The biggest problem on the local art scene is the lack of art critics who know enough about art to give serious criticism, set the art in perspective and see it in an international and/or art related context.This was most recently expressed in Sophia Pande’s grotesque article about Aditya Aryal’s Kumari article in Kathmandu Post 7 February 2015.Sophia Pande neither understood what the art was about nor the Aditya Aryal’s references to the culture he is a part of. Still she manage to convince the editors to give her almost one page for her nonsense. Very, very embarrassing. (Read Thomas comments to Sophia Pande’s article here).Most often the reviews are an endless list of names of celebs attending the opening and other banalities.
- Here are too many unqualified money
We must make one thing clear. The foreigners working with art and culture have a lot of good intentions and honesty.Unfortunately, this is far from enough in a country like Nepal where everybody cheats. In addition to a minimum of insights in the local art & culture scene, it is an absolute must to know what things cost:
If you do not know what it costs to rent a camera crew, make a website, rent a sound system, the price of Image Awards (the country’s largest media event) or a taxi ride from and to Thamel, it is impossible to figure out the budgets you receive. And if you don’t know the family relationships in Nepal, it is impossible to figure out how people write out bills to them selves or a family member.
We don’t know anybody in the local NGO, iNGO and diplomatic world who have that insight. And the bills & budgets we have seen are scary. The international charity industry has been throwing money around to such an extent that the artists’ focus has shifted from creativity, initiative & artistic drive to a How-can-we-get-money-from-the-embassies-fast approach. The whole art scene knows how easy it is to get hold of the money… so you really can’t blame them.
We have witnessed this so many times. Last time was during our Limbo Start-up-meeting between Sophus R and the small team of young Nepalese artists.Where do we get money for materials was the opening question from the Nepalese boot.
Maybe we should get some ideas first was Sophus’ resolute reply. Then he got the team together and they disappeared out in the streets of Kathmandu to collect all the junk, that ended up being the key elements in their art
Today is the culmination of 4 years with Art@Tings
Today the new Art Space Anexet in Kerteminde, Denmark Opens. One of the performers is Aditya Aryal who managed to find space in his travel schedule to join this event between his successful performance at the Viborg International Billboard Festival 2015 on June 13th, and his opening of FaceOff Jazz on the July 3rd in Copenhagen.
Art@Tings used the opportunity – and his 90-day visa to Schengen – to make a small European Gallery Tour so he can introduce himself on the European Art Scene. Networking is crucial for his career.
Aditya’s visit and tour is a huge event for our Art@Tings project. It marks a new phase for our art involvement, where we hopefully will be able to help other artist who we believe have the talent, out in the world. And at the same time we hope to get more interesting art and projects to Nepal all those who don’t get out in the world.
When we work with local art and artists we always work for free. And we never charge royalty or rent for our art space. So it was a very important milestone for us when Aditya Aryal received the invitation to the international art event in Denmark. Then we knew that our way of thinking is right. And that Art@Tings is a platform from where we can help other talents we work with We’re very optimistic. Annette & Thomas
Art@Tings involvement in a few headlines
- This is why we find art and culture interesting/relevant
- Art and culture inspires and motivates and is, in particular, the voice of the youths (music, fashion, art, film etc)
- The younger generations need something or someone to look up to and show them the way. When the artists are good, they are role models for the new generations.
- All art involvement must be based on the artist’s two main interests
- To be able to make a living from his art
- To maintain his artistic integrity.To ensure long-lasting success optimizing the tension between these two parameters is essential.
- What we are looking for is everything that affects us from the neck down.
Or to quote Charles Bukowski: If you got them by the balls their hearts and mind will follow.
- More specifically: we go after universal emotions, attitude, new, different, unexpected, elements and expressions that puts things in new perspectives.
- Our specific contributions, when we involve ourselves are:
- We motivates & inspires at all levels.Through hour-long conversations with curious and information-hungry art practitioners who want to know more about everything new within the topicThrough the exhibitions and events that we implement without regard to what normally will be arranged. Activities featuring the kind of and culture we miss from Copenhagen, Berlin, Lisbon, Seoul and other places where we get our inspiration.By involving ourselves directly in the projects – doing everything from distributing flyers, to putting up sound and light up and cleaning up after the events. And by showing the effect of Social marketing and how easy it is to do yourself at no cost … We do this by designing blogs, writing content, creating profiles on relevant platforms, even by shaping the debate and much, much more.
- We host & promote:
- We are so privileged to have a space. We use Tings Tea Lounge for some of the events that require a venue. We not only makes it available for free – we pay for the snacks and drinks as well.Finally we are responsible for the marketing and press. Again to show how little it takes – and how easy it is to make.
Annette & Thomas