Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Six Lakhs for up to 4 hours of Theater Hire!!! - Nelum Pokuna – Mahinda Rajapakse Theatre – - A white elephant?

I recently wrote a blog post on the above, which was also published in the Sunday Leader of December 11th 2011. However I had grossly underestimated the hire charges of the Theatre. Check the new website which was launched at Temple Trees by the President on December 12th for the details that completely blew me away.

There are various options, but in order to rent the Hall for up to 4 hrs is Rs600,000 and for a second performance for the same day for up to 4 hrs is, Rs450,000. Of course there are other charges such as rehearsal costs of Rs75,000 per hour up to 4 hours etc. Are they day dreaming?

As usual in true lack of journalistic form, our journalists just parrot fashion have reported on the impeding opening and the launch of the website without critically commenting on the contents like I have noted above. What is it with the lack of investigative journalists? Are they worried they will not get a Press Pass for the Opening on the 15th? Come on guys use a little bit of your common sense and start a campaign to say that for the first year in order to encourage its use, publicity, and grow an interest in the performing arts, a maximum of Rs100,000 per performance would be charged and to show the future charges to get people to realize the chance of utilizing this offer in the first year.

Is there no marketing skill in Sri Lanka? Why are there thousands doing CIM courses? Who are the CIM members? Are they brain dead without an ounce of innovative thinking which I am lead to believe is a hallmark of a great marketer?

These are the questions I would ask my journalist friends, as I am no journalist but a person who barely has time to write from my day job, but feel passionate about many subjects and in this case about the Performing Arts that need to be developed especially to make it accessible to the masses. My earlier article speaks for itself and I do not want to repeat the contents of it here.

I would ask the authorities to seriously consider my viewpoint, and determine that in the Arts it is not about dollars and cents and it is about sense! Few countries if any make any profit from the Arts, it is considered part of society’s duty to keep a country’s culture alive and resurrect dying art and dance forms. We have a once in a lifetime opportunity to contribute to the debate before we lose the chance for ever, and our contribution to posterity. We MUST take responsibility for endowing the future Sri Lankans with the “Heritage of the Varied Culture” of the motherland.


Anonymous said...

There is an interesting article today stating that Mangala Samaraweera has suggested that the Center be named after Former President Chandrika BK as she was instrumental in vesting the land, organizing the competition for the design, and arranging the initial funding and building work from the Chinese Government. So in that respect, President Rajapakse was lucky that the opening is on his watch. So take heed of the comments.

Anonymous said...

nice points made.

my belief are the arts are only ways to keep the current powers that be in power. they are a tool of the ruling class to reflect their values onto the masses.

Anonymous said...

Second anon: It is an interesting observation. Which position along the continuum of thinking do you prefer? With Communism at one end and Rightwing Dictatorship at the other?

The use of the arts to reflect their values on the masses! can you explain.

Anonymous said...

If you build it they will come...

This seems to be the way the Govt. is doing Capex.

Will see what happens....

Hope it does better than Hambantota Harbor.

2012 - The year SL goes Bankrupt.

Thanks MR and Co!

Anonymous said...

OMG i didnt know that anyone who hires the theatre would have to pay such a huge amount of money. Is it practicable in SL? who will ever pay such a huge money and use this theatre in SL? I think the gov does not have any ppl who can think and have love for the country. SL has many other priorities. there is very high chance that this is going to become a white elephant. Do u knw what amazes me most? the silence of our people and civil organisations of the country. though i appreciate gov 's efforts to develop transport sys in SL, they do not have the ability to decide priorities. We were saved at last from the financial tsunami of commonwealth games, bt there is no end of white elephants in the country. If we go like this, the whole of SL economy would face the same situation like Sri Lanka Cricket.

Jay said...

these things are built by chinese and one day we have to pay the debts. how can we do that. Already SL is in a huge debt? our leaders are very bad at management. Their management skills are nil. this is what happens when underworld thugs, uneducated sportsmen are elected to the parliment. we can improve our petroleum refineries, the Sulfur compunds which is a byproduct of refining is burnt in SL which is used for other chemical processes in other countries. we can manufacture sulfuric, caustic, we have the sea all around us(we used to have a caustic factory). Gov should finance such revenue generating things other than white elphants like this. we already spend 20 bn rupees to import sugar annually. Sl has the capacity to at least manufacture 50% of that. The dairy industry which lacks strong marketing strategies to compete with MNCs. Just look at the food items. How much money we spend for importing food items that could have been manufactured in the country. it is not a loss but a tragedy. Hundreds of management, engineering graduates enter the employment market every year. Gov does not have a plan to recruit them and use thir skills to uplift gov compnaies like Highland. How many engineers go out of the country looking for overseas jobs bcos we have a small manufacturing base here and their knowledge and skills cannot be used here.

Jack Point said...

A good analysis.

They have 1288 seats so on a per seat basis the charge works out to about 465 per seat, assuming a full house.

The tricky thing is to ensure a full house. I don't think any hall can host anything more than about 300-400 now and local theatre sometimes has difficulty even in filling this.

I think Indi made a point that foreign acts could probably fill the hall and charge enough to attract a crowd, so we should be able to expect more of these.

It could be hired out to, say, an Indian impresario who would offer a total package - flight, theatre, hotels, beach excursion/shopping and sell this to Indian audiences (he would need to bring the act in question as well). Its a possibility, not sure if its far fetched.

It could also be used for state extravaganzas like the IIFA awards.

For ordinary local theatre where normal ticket prices are 300-750 and there is some difficulty in filling existing halls it will out of reach, unless they can really upgrade their acts to the level where they can be sure of filling such a hall-the problem here again is money.

Anonymous said...

the maintenance will be high. those seats will have to be cleaned with shampoo and vacuums regularly if the hall is to remain fresh and clean, especially if the non-deodorant-wearing perspiring masses are allowed inside for performances.

Ratmale,Minneriya,Sri Lanka said...

Thanks all for the impressive list of comments in such a short time. In a few hours the Pres will open the Theatre, like the first anon said it would have been a touch of graciousness if CBK name was given, after all she was a Pres for 12 years with hardly anything to her name!

Jack you made some great points! and hope the authorities will read them to do their utmost to make most use out of this facility lest it goes to waste.

Remember it is not in the interests of bureaucrats to make sure it is put to full use. That honor only goes to private enterprise who look for a return.

So let us hope there is a private public partnership in the running of this, to ensure both a fair return and a decent distribution of events for all sections and interests, not being exclusive to the rich and infamous only!

Anonymous said...

You are getting a lot of comments because you are writing on the issues of the day???

1. Plastic Crates
2. Opening of the theater