Thailand’s National Artist Day (22/02/2011)
Her Royal Highness Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn will present awards to nine outstanding artists, who have been named the 2010 national artists.

The award presentation will take place on February 24, which marks Thailand’s National Artist Day. The nine national artists will receive honorary plaques and pins from Her Royal Highness, who was given the title of the “Supreme Patroness of Thai Cultural Heritage.”

Thailand celebrates National Artist Day on February 24 each year. February 24 was picked as National Artist Day because it is the birthday of King Rama II, who is recognized as a great patron of Thai arts and culture. King Rama II ruled the Thai kingdom from 1809 to 1824 and was himself a distinguished artist of the early Bangkok period.

As part of the National Artist Day celebration, the Government selects outstanding artists who have made great contributions to the country’s cultural and artistic heritage. These persons are honored as “national artists” in three major fields, namely Visual Arts, Performing Arts, and Literary Arts.

The National Artist Selection Project was launched in 1985 to select the first batch of national artists to be honored on 24 February 1986. In the same year, the National Culture Commission conferred the title of the “Great Artist” upon His Majesty the King, in recognition of his artistic role in many fields. His Majesty has been given several titles; one of them is the “Supreme Artist.” In his speech given on National Artist Day in 1986, His Majesty said that art is crucial for all kinds of work and that artists are important persons deserving recognition and honor.

Since the inception of the National Artist Selection Project, 212 persons have been named national artists. A national artist also receives a monthly salary of 20,000 baht and other benefits. Former Prime Minister of Thailand Mom Rajawongse Kukrit Pramoj was among the first batch of national artists honored in 1986. His most outstanding novel Si Phaendin, or Four Reigns, revolves around the court life from the reign of King Rama V to Rama VIII, offering a vivid portrait of Thai society in those long years of the four fascinating reigns.

He has been honored by the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) as a world-renowned cultural personality. The centenary of M.R. Kukrit’s birth will be on 20 April 2011, and the centennial celebration will be held throughout this year. Recognized as one of the most influential persons in Thai history M.R. Kukrit passed away in October 1995 at the age of 85.

To celebrate National Artist Day, February 24, cultural shows performed by national artists are held each year at the Thailand Cultural Center in Bangkok to provide a unique opportunity for lovers of Thai arts and culture to see masters in action. The Department of Cultural Promotion is also scheduled to organize a week-long exhibition and other cultural activities from February 24 to March 5, also at the Thailand Cultural Center.

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