KOLKATA: After some patchwork, the Academy of Fine Arts will finally reopen on Sunday, close to a week after the state government allowed relaxation of curbs and three months after it was temporarily shut down, with HK Theatre Workers’ ‘Hokas Fokas’. The pandemic has taken its toll on the building. Recently, a viral video showing wet seats and damaged ceiling have left many shocked.
“We have been assured that water seepage will not happen when the play is being staged on Sunday. We are taking a risk,” HK Theatre Workers director Asoke Ghosh told TOI .
The Academy is run by a trustee board chaired by former Kolkata Police commissioner Prasun Mukherjee. According to him, repair work of the old building goes on throughout the year. “During this monsoon, there has been some damage. A crack has surfaced on the roof of the auditorium. An engineer and an architect have inspected. Tenders have been floated and repair work will begin soon,” he said.
Mukherjee added that though normally no one wants to start repair work during the monsoon, some urgent work had to be started on Saturday since the hall needed to be reopened. “Funds have been an issue. I’ve tried a lot and even written to the chief minister about our problems. Since March ’20, we have had no earnings but only expenses. As a desperate measure, the staff salary had to be curtailed from June this year. Before that, we had been paying full salary,” he said.
Doctor-turned-actor Arup Bandopadhyay, whose construction company received the work order to do the patchwork, said, “We are just arresting the seepage from the ceiling. The Academy authorities will be placing a net so that plaster of paris chunks don’t fall inside the auditorium if there is a false ceiling collapse. However, this isn’t a permanent solution,” he said.
Joint secretary of the Academy’s executive committee Kallol Bose insisted that the building had only “seen patchwork in the name of repair”. “It is shameful that the Academy will have to use a net to prevent false ceiling collapse. Trustees were hardly proactive despite repeated requests to them for seeking government intervention,” Bose said.
Theatre personality Sima Mukhopadhyay is unhappy with the condition of the terrace. “Water leaks in the room housing electric equipment. Patchwork will help us to stage our play ‘Jonmodin Mrityudun’ on August 29 but this building needs proper repair,” she said.