Theatre activists have demanded introduction of monthly remuneration packages for the financially-strapped stage actors and directors so that professionalism can be instilled into the theatre circles.
They said whatever theatre has achieved so far was because of the self-propelled initiatives of the activists but in the end the activists do not get much return on their labour, since there are not many theatregoers these days.
‘It is imperative that theatre activists and troupes should have financial support from the government, in the form of salary grants or something,’ said Ramendu Majumdar, honorary president of the International Theatre Institute.
‘A country cannot prosper if it doesn’t have a rich culture. Our theatre activists are an important part of our culture,’ he added.
Noted actor-director Mamunur Rashid thinks that an artiste cannot give their 100% without an incentive, freed from financial constraints. ‘The need for salary grants has become a reality for us; it will help establish professionalism in the theatre arena,’ he said.
Meanwhile, senior thespian Nasiruddin Yousuff cited grant initiatives taken by India, saying the country has implemented support programmes not only for its theatre but also for other areas of performing arts.
‘India’s cultural arena is thriving because of such grants. I think Bangladesh should also do something like this because it will in all likelihood inspire its cultural activists to work better,’ he added.
In 2012, prime minister Sheikh Hasina talked about a salary grant to promote professionalism in theatre and other arenas of performing arts—music, dance and recitation.
Recently, Bangladesh Shilpakala Academy proposed a grant budget of over Tk 24 crore for theatre troupes, dancers, singers and recitation artistes but the proposal was turned down by the cultural affairs ministry.
However, the academy’s director general Liaquat Ali Lucky said that he is planning to pursue the matter again because ‘the cultural arena is in dire need of the scheme.’
When contacted, the cultural affairs minister, Asaduzzaman Noor, also admitted the need for a grant programme, saying the ministry is reconsidering the proposal.
‘We turned down the academy’s proposal because we did not have money at that time. Actually, we want to initiate the grant as a permanent scheme and so it is taking some time for planning and organising,’ he added.
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