Don't take tiatrists for granted, give them better facilities


The show must go on, so goes the famous adage, and so has it at Ravindra Bhavan auditorium, Margao. The question is, for how long? The decision of the member secretary to suspend all bookings indefinitely at the auditorium from August 24 has been reversed following a meeting with tiatr directors and producers, but with the larger issue remaining unresolved, questions remain on how tiatrists will negotiate the situation as the curtains go up once again.

While only one centralized air conditioning unit of the three is currently in operation, there would be tremendous pressure on the overall functionality, possibly leading to a further crisis should the entire air-conditioning system fail. In addition, the alternate use of industrial pedestal fans, besides being noisy and not providing the necessary cooling, will only pose an irritation to audiences. Also, there were apprehensions that some isolated cases of unruly audiences could berserk and damage property due to possible discomfort.

The arrangement currently brokered does not go well in the longer term, and the management, along with the PWD, will have to come up with immediate solutions to the problems without affecting the interests of the tiatr fraternity. While tiatrs have been the popular choice of entertainment in Salcete and other areas, this segment has been the worst hit during the pandemic, with auditoriums remaining shut for an extended period of time. Even when the protocol eased off, shows were allowed at 50 per cent capacity per protocol, which dealt a telling blow to directors.

While another festive season comes around, it would be unfair to shut the doors for tiatrs again. The Ravindra Bhavan management should have impressed upon the PWD to undertake repair works in such a way that performances are not affected. Authorities have to be sensitive to this issue, especially Art and Culture Minister Govind Gaude, who has evinced a keen interest in reviving the infrastructure at all Ravindra Bhavans and work practical solutions.

Goa boasts of its rich culture and festivals, but sadly our auditoriums across the State, including Kala Academy, are either in shambles or in a state of repairs/restoration. A look at the Ravindra Bhavan Margao paints a sorry picture with walls developing cracks, pavers disjointed, and toilets in poor shape. What was envisaged as a top-class cultural hub in Salcete a few years back is now in pathetic condition. The Ravindra Bhavan at Vasco, too, continues to be in a work-in-progress situation. Does this suit a State that boasts about its rich culture? Or, are tiatrists and other performing artistes just taken for granted?

Stage performers are the torch-bearers of our culture, providing entertainment despite the challenges and odds faced. By calling for the closure of halls without even considering the impact it would have on the fraternity, the government is just insensitive to their cause. Moreover, it raises strong suspicion that tiatrists have been meted out such poor treatment only because they have been critical of the political class.

Tiatrs have a legacy that Goans are proud of. It's time that the Art and Culture Department takes note of our cultural ambassadors and provide them with the best facilities.

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