Arts In Need of a Rainmaker
fund-raising programme of Chhayanaut in the '70s
was one of those Friday afternoons, and I was in my study,
trying to jot down a few points for my next article on Dhaka's
cultural scene. Half an hour later, when I still hadn't come
up with anything substantial, I decided that a walk in my
garden was the best medicine.
here I was disappointed. The potted plants looked pale and
lifeless. The black velvet rose and chrysanthemums limped
helplessly. Our gardener was away and in the short period,
the garden had lost its sparkle. And then I realised why I
wasn't able to come up with a theme for my article.
back to the 1970s. Chhayanaut had arranged a five-day fund
raising programme at the Engineer's Institute for its new
school project. Tagore, Nazrul, patriotic songs, songs of
yesteryears and finally classical recitals were presented
successively, amidst rapturous applause. Guest artistes including
Laila Arjumand Banu, Ferdousi Rahman, Ojit Roy, Abdul Ahad,
Mustafa Zaman Abbasi and others participated in Chhayanaut's
endeavour for revival of our traditional Bangla songs. The
five day cultural feast was a roaring success. Even the tickets
designed by the famed Rashid Chowdhury was a piece to be treasured.
decades later, building a school bhaban is still
a dream. With the construction cost estimated at Tk 5 crore,
Chhayanaut definitely need government support and approval.
And with the delay, the loss for the school is mounting on
a daily basis. The funds so far have been raised through cultural
programmes and contributions by well wishers at home and abroad.
The Daily Star and Prothom Alo for example
helped Chhayanaut by publishing an appeal.
the Chhayanaut officials had urged the authorities to approve
the new design for the Chhayanaut Bhaban. Located at Dhanmondi,
it has plans to build an auditorium, classrooms, and audio-visual
equipment. The construction work started after the Rajuk approved
the original plans in May 13, 2002. On October 31 2002 another
revised design was submitted with the Rajuk officials, but
the design is yet to be approved.
the capital, most institutions which groom and nurture musical
talents are beset with countless problems. Take for instance
BAFA, Nazrul Academy, Jago Art Centre or other old establishments.
the great dancer Bulbul Chowdhury established the Bulbul Academy
of Fine Arts. Initially there was a dearth of teachers as
well as students, but very soon they flocked to the institution.
It was for the first time that different departments in Tagore
songs, Nazrul, dance and classical music began under the same
roof. Soon, aspiring artistes started to go to dance institutes
such as Nikkon, Jago Arts Centre, Altaf Mahmood Music Academy
the problems with funding, lack of space and so on, these
institutions steadily promoted fresh talent. This is why we
had a glorious era of performing arts and history as recently
as 40 years ago.
the right support, many of these institutions have been forced
to splinter into smaller institutions. "Schools"
have cropped up in apartments and garage-tops. Needless to
say, the future of performing arts is not set for a grand
revival. One only has to turn on BTV or the radio (if anyone
still uses it), and the results are clear. Some critics have
jokingly commented that much has improved at BTV-- the potted
plants on the stage are now painted, and fresh portraits of
Nazrul and Tagore are hung in the backdrop.
other hand, the private channels seem to be faring much better
in producing quality features. Sadly, the private channels
can only nurture and showcase talent to a certain point. What
we need is a national framework, or a dedicated, well-funded
institution that will attract and revive interest in our true
is not difficult to see that the audiences have not turned
away. At the recent drama festival in the newly constructed
Experimental Theatre at Shilpakala Academy there was a mile-long
queue every day of the festival.
In a rapidly
globalised and standardised world, culture is becoming increasingly
important as a symbol of identity. Neighbouring as well as
Western countries alike have rightly recognised this and have
wasted no effort in building and nourishing their indigenous
care and attention, the cultural scenario a few years from
now could look no different than my garden. Dry, listless
and desperately looking towards the heaven for a spot of the
of space has been a major problem for BAFA, which still does
not own its own building
(R) thedailystar.net 2004