In a pronouncement that should bring cheer to India's art lovers long stymied by a philistine government and bureaucracy, union finance minister Pranab Mukherjee has made it easier to organise exhibitions of foreign art work.
''Works of art and antiquities are exempt from customs duties when imported for exhibition in a public museum or national institution,'' Mukherjee announced in his budget speech on Monday. This includes art work for display in private art galleries or similar premises open to the general public.
The art community, particularly owners of private galleries, has welcomed the change. ''Earlier, a refundable customs deposit of 14.7 per cent of the total value of artworks imported was required to be submitted, or a bank guarantee was required. Now that this is no longer needed, we will be more active in getting art from abroad,'' said Arun Vadehra, director, Vadehra Art Gallery.