The digital archiving project started with the identification of key institutions and selected artists (studio arts and theater), and incorporating their profiles into the IMAP webpage. The archive currently contains up to fifty profiles of artists and art/theater institutions in the Kathmandu Valley with brief descriptions of the artists/institutions, photographs, catalogues, reviews, video interviews as well as other related materials. A five-month fellowship in ‘Art, Theatre, and Urbanisation’ was also offered to nine scholars with an aim to enhance and broaden research prospects in the respective fields. Alongside these, discussion programmes, conferences, and workshops were also held targeted at the art community at large and the general public, in order to introduce the art and theater archive. The outcome of those dialogues paved way for the success of the ‘Artists in the City’ exhibitions.
It was during the 'Artists in the City' that the “IMAP Reader: A Collection of Essays on Art and Theater in Kathmandu”, and a short documentary film entitled “Artists in the City” was also released and screened. The documentary portrayed the views of some prominent Nepali artists on urbanisation, environmental degradation, and public space usage in Kathmandu. Followed by an exhibition which combined music and theater performances with installation arts in popular public spaces of the valley.
IMAP was set up to encourage an open dialogue on what public spaces mean to the people at large, to find out the best way to utilise them without endangering their architectural or cultural integrity, and also to pressurise the responsible authority. Overall, IMAP effectively promoted direct public involvement in raising awareness about public spaces, forming a wider network to work towards a much needed value-based social transformation.
Research and Documentation: The project collected and documented relevant literature published on the Durbar Squares along with other available documents focused on urbanisation and public spaces. IMAP also awarded two fellowships for the study on the impact of modernisation and urbanisation on culturally historical public spaces—Kathmandu Durbar Square (Basantapur) and Patan Durbar Square. The research papers, along with ten more articles on public spaces of Kathmandu, will shortly be published in an anthology called the “IMAP Reader”. A documentary entitled Sarwajanik Sthal, Sabaiko Haina ra? (Public Space, Doesn't it belong to everybody?) was released in the annual event of IMAP 'Artists in the City' in 2012 comprising interviews with locals of the valley talking about the meaning, usage and ownership of public spaces.
Public Engagement: A series of lectures, given by experts, were held to discuss the issue of creation, utility, and reduction in the number of public spaces in the city. These lectures provided an open forum for people to understand, comment, question, and discuss about the complex relationship of public spaces with the city. Additionally, to facilitate discussions at length on the issue of public space and urbanisation, IMAP discussion groups were organised where IMAP fellows shared their research findings of studies on Durbar Squares with relevant stakeholders, and experts.
Media Partnership: Sixteen episodes of Aankhijhyal, a nationally broadcasted TV programme focusing explicitly on public spaces (both inside and outside of the Kathmandu Valley), was funded by the project. 'Talking Space' with Kantipur FM, a station with a national reach, was conceptualised and funded by IMAP in 2011-2012. 36 episodes were aired weekly with an interview with experts on urban planning, social scientists, architects et al for eight months. Following this, the project had a partnership with Sagarmatha FM, a community radio station, by funding 25 episodes in 2012 focusing on public spaces in the programme entitled Khula Manch. Thus, the overarching objective of these media partnerships was to use the example of the Kathmandu Valley to stimulate proactive advocacy and dialogue for well-planned cities and towns all over Nepal.
IMAP is contacting artists and institutions to help create their professional profiles, containing a brief introduction to the artist and a following description of their artistic creations, on the IMAP's webpage (www.webimap.org). It aspires to be a platform for the artists to share their works with fellow artists and form a social network. This archive is a product of the belief that a culture of open discussion and critique can be started and solidarity can be forged by encouraging artists to be in regular contact with each other and being familiar to the works of others. At this stage, with the end of the project, our aim is to sustain the profile by handing over the ownership to the artists themselves. Therefore, this has entailed providing technical assistance to upload recent works of art, send event invitations to the artistic community, and to promote a socially interactive artist community on the web, among others.