By Dominique Gabriel G. Bañaga
The organizer of the alleged party that took place at the Art District in Bacolod City’s Barangay Mandalagan issued an apology yesterday afternoon.
In a statement issued by Viva ExCon 2020, they explained that in preparation for the VIVA ExCon virtual opening on November 8 via zoom and to kick off the virtual conference VCon 1, an exhibition was organized for the sole purpose of simulating a live opening for video recording.
“There was no event, no invitation was sent and no announcement was made. It was unfortunate that the set attracted the usual Art District crowd and management was not able to control their enthusiasm,” the organizer said.
However, they claimed that they did stop the activity after sufficient takes so as to disperse the crowd. Subsequently, Art District remained closed on the following days.
They said that to share the context of VIVA ExCon, it is one of the most sustained artist-initiated biennales in Southeast Asia. The hosting moves from island to island every two years without fail and Bacolod City has been chosen to host the 16th iteration starting Nov. 8 which will evolve patiently in phases until July 2021 for an exhibition program, all in virtual format.
Formed in 1990 by the collective Black Artists in Asia, ViVa ExCon has striven to carve out a space and perspective for artists in the Visayas. Through its efforts to foster an inter-island ecology distinct from, although not isolated from, the art world in the capital of Manila, it has achieved over the years a collaborative and participatory spirit of art making, mutual support, and solidarity unique in the Philippine archipelago.
“In fact, It has become an effective artist-centered blueprint with which other like initiatives have been patterned after. It is the main goal of VIVA ExCon, to celebrate Visayan art by bridging the islands of the Visayas so as to provide a venue to facilitate dialogues, interaction, networking and cultural exchanges, thus addressing fundamental and relevant issues among visual art communities and related stakeholders,” the organizer pointed out.
They further stated that they care about the community and they feel it is their responsibility to try to keep the spirits of the artists alive during this unprecedented struggle.
The organizer added that the art family extends their apology to the community for the concern raised regarding the Nov. 6 occurrence.
“We would like to reassure the community that as a matter of habit, Art District conforms to the mandated health protocol and consistently assists those within its reach through the Art Heals fundraising initiative to deliver aid throughout the course of the quarantine,” it added.
Earlier, City Administrator Em Ang, said the city government will investigate the incident and will hold the organizers liable for violating the city’s ordinance on the use of face masks and face shields when in public.
In the seven-second footage sent to the EOC-TF, several people were also seen consuming alcohol in the event.
Police Station 3 commander, Police Captain Richard Fajarito, said they immediately broke up the party after receiving numerous calls from concerned citizens and warned the establishments to stop serving alcoholic beverages.
Fajarito also noted that when they arrived, most of the party goers were allegedly minors.
The police commander also reminded restaurants and bars in his area that since Bacolod City is still under the general community quarantine (GCQ), they are only allowed to serve alcoholic beverages from 12:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. and mass gatherings are strictly prohibited.
The Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG)-Bacolod submitted a report about the “mass gathering” to DILG- Western Visayas while the city’s Business Permit and Licensing Office visited the establishments in Art District.
Under the government’s quarantine policy, any form of mass gathering is prohibited in areas under GCQ./DGB, WDJ