Political turmoil hampers cultural activitiesErshad Kamol
The cultural activities remained dull due to the political turmoil in 2013 compared with that in 2012. When a series of major cultural events were held in 2012, hardly any big event took place last year except in the first quarter of the year.
Only a few theatre, dance and music festivals had been organised since last May. Most of the audience considering the security of life showed apathy to attend the programmes organised. Even some organisers had to quit or shift the scheduled programmes for the political crisis.
The exception of the year was the Bengal International Classical Music Festival held in November where every day an average of 50,000 audience enjoyed performances of the leading 25 Indian and Pakistani classical musicians and dancers along with the local artistes in the four-day open air programme at the Bangladesh Army Stadium.
Earlier, only two renowned foreign singers — Jamaican reggae singer Julian Marley and Indian playback singer Sunidhi Chowhan — performed in live concerts in January.
It is true that Bangladesh Shilpakala Academy, Indira Gandhi Cultural Centre and a few other organsations organised regular music, dance and recitation programmes, film festivals and art exhibitions. But, in most cases these programmes had been affected by the political turmoil.
The organisers had to postpone the scheduled AGM of the World Dance Alliance–Asia Pacific in Dhaka, which was later organised in the Taiwanese capital Taipei.
‘We had all the preparations to host the programme where 500 delegates were supposed to attend. Internationally acclaimed Bangladeshi dancer Akram Khan agreed to present the keynote paper in the event,’ Lubna Marium, the vice-president of WDA-AP, told New Age.
Compared with the previous year, Bangladesh Shilpakala Academy had not organised much grand programmes in 2013. Remarkable events that the academy organised last year were six-day Nari Jagoran Natyautsab held in August and a yearlong mobile acrobatic shows in the district towns.
‘Less number of programmes was organised in this year compared with 2012. But, we did not cancel any scheduled event. Rather, we introduced more training programmes on music and acrobatic. We also introduced awards for the national level and district level artistes this year,’ Liaquat Ali Lucky, director general of Bangladesh Shilpakala Academy, told New Age.
‘We also made our film department more active and introduced a recitation section,’ Lucky added.
But, the theatre leaders agree that theatre activities had been affected badly by the yearlong political turmoil. The number of new productions premiered this year was 12, when around 20 new productions had been premiered in 2012.
Adding to that, not many theatre festivals had been organised in 2013. Only Aranyak Natya Dal, Dhaka Theatre, Padatik Natya Sangsad, Mahakal Natya Samradaya and Prangone Mor organised festivals marking founding anniversaries of the respective troupes. These troupes also premiered their new productions.
Other remarkable theatre festivals held in Dhaka were six-day Ganga Jamuna Theatre Festival in September and eight-day Syed Shamsul Haque Natya Utsab in April.
Apart from the festivals in Dhaka, around five theatre festivals had been organised in Chittagong, Barisal and Rajshahi in 2013.
‘Fund collections for producing new plays and festivals had been affected by the political crisis. Considering the security of the members, many troupes cancelled rehearsals and scheduled performances,’ Jhuna Chowdhury, secretary general of Bangladesh Group Theatre Federation, told New Age.
The slumped trade in the audio music industry continued throughout the year due to the ongoing blame game between the producers and musicians in question of profit sharing and piracy. As a result, no commercially successful music album had been released in 2013. Thanks to technological advancement, band musicians started online release of their albums to reach to the audience.
The film industry, however, had a little improvement. Though the number of released films in 2013 is less than that in the previous year, at least one fourth of the Dhallywood films such as Nishhartho Bhalobasa, Jor Kore Bhalobasa Hoy Na, My Name is Khan, Jatil Prem, Er Beshi Bhalobasa Jay Na, Prem Prem Paglami and Purna Doirgha Premkahini could make profit.
The independent filmmaker Mostafa Sarwar Farooki’s film Television and Kamar Ahmad Simon’s documentary film Shunte Ki Pao got awards participating at the Kolkata International Film Festival and in a documentary film festival in France respectively.
Film activists initiated the yearlong golden jubilee celebrations of the country’s film society movement in January. But, the festival committee had to postpone the scheduled grand gala in December. ‘We will hold the programme when the situation becomes normal,’ filmmaker Morshedul Islam, member secretary of the celebrations committee, told New Age.
But, the art scene remained vibrant throughout the year. Bangladesh Shilpakala Academy, Alliance Française de Dhaka, and popular private galleries such as Bengal Shilpalaya, Bengal Art Lounge, Dhaka Art Centre, Drik, Athena Gallery, Galleri Kaya, Shilpangan, Gallery Cosmos, Institute of Asian Creative and others organised solo and group art exhibitions all the year round.
The seventh edition of Chobi Mela, the international photography biennale organised by Drik, showcased 35 entries from 24 countries at 10 venues in January.
The 20th National Art Biennale, organised by Bangladesh Shilpakala, featured 280 artworks by 255 artists at the National Art Gallery of academy in July.
Bangladesh National Museum also organised a 20-day crafts fair featuring the works of the country’s traditional craftspeople in November.
Bengal Shilpalaya displayed ‘re-discovered’ sketches of the legendary artist SM Sultan in October. The gallery and Shilpakala Academy chalked out separate programmes to celebrate Shilpacharya Zainul Abedin’s birth centennial in December.
Moreover, eight local artists displayed their artworks in the Bangladesh Pavilion in the 55th edition of the Venice Art Biennale, the world’s oldest and one of the largest art expo, in Venice, Italy in last June.
The inscription of Jamdani, the exquisitely patterned hand woven traditional cotton sarees, on the Representative List of the Intangible Heritage of Humanity of UNSECO in December made the nation proud.
More such successes are expected to be achieved in the New Year.
Ustad Rashid Khan performs at the Bengal Classical Music Festival in November in Dhaka.
A display of the National Art Biennale at the National Art Gallery of Bangladesh Shilpakala Academy.
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