Three years of missed opportunities for artistes and entertainment for spectators ended on Friday, November 10, as the gates to the renovated Kala Academy were thrown open.
Allegations, controversies and budget hikes, dogged the renovation works that commenced in 2021, but at the reopening function it was the longing to walk on that stage once again that one sensed.
And, Chief Minister Pramod Sawant reemphasized this, as well as the fact that old structures require timely renovation for survival for the next 50 years.
“It’s not the cement and stones that bring a building to life. Even as this premises is ready, it’s when the artistes return and perform that this structure will breathe life,” he said, adding that bookings for the venue will be available from the coming month.
There was curiosity and satisfaction at the few noticeable changes in the premises, as those attending strolled through the Kala Academy.
“After the renovation, Kala Academy looks fresh and the paintings look much better than before. Most of the parts haven’t been changed. They have been kept the way they were and yes it really feels good to be back here,” Selvin Braganza, music teacher at the Directorate of Art and Culture, said.
The earlier decision to demolish the structure was changed to restoration after the intervention of the Charles Correa Foundation with the renovation works budget allocation at Rs 56 crore.
“You won’t see much change. Even these chairs (at the Dinanath Mangeshkar auditorium) are old, only the cushioning and covers are new and handles polished. This is how we have tried to maintain as it is, wherever possible. It’s a wonderful sight today, but there have been lot of efforts put to get the work done. We are not saying that 100 per cent the works have been done. If anything needs to be changed, then we are willing to make it possible,” PWD Minister Nilesh Cabral told the gathering at the reopening.
“I hope the remaining works get completed. For the last two to three years many artistes have been longing to return to Kala Academy. Even we were curious as to when it would happen, when programmes would return. So today as it reopens, we are hoping that programmes are restarted,” one of those who attended the reopening said.
Art and Culture Minister Govind Gaude also didn’t hold back and expressed his happiness at the re-opening. “Today we see the fruits of the decision taken three years back by this government. Goans can see the restoration works of the Dinanath Mangeshkar auditorium, the black box, the art gallery and classrooms,” the minister, who will be taking centre stage at the play to be held Friday evening at the premises, mentioned.
As people walked through those familiar open seating areas, cafeteria and exchanged Dhanteras wishes, the entry to open air auditorium, where the roof collapsed, lies covered. “I have asked CM to tender it and to complete it soon. Remember we are for the people,” the PWD Minister’s reassurances reverberated.