Sri Lankan infographics usually suck but this chap Banuka Niman Amarasinghe did something very nice with this
China built us a big performing arts center. They took the walls down a good while ago and I like it, especially at night. It’s kinda like getting a complimentary duffel bag from your credit card company, but still. Thing is, I have no idea what it looks like from inside, or above, until now. The view from above is important. See above. The view from inside is more important still.
The Arts Center, like the Hambantota Port, looks open, but is not open. It’s there, but no one is using it. I’m not sure if this is because it’s not fully done or because they’re waiting for an auspicious time, but there’s no action. Serendipity has said that the opening should be on December 15th, and also this:
I was told that as the monthly maintenance of the Center is expected to be around Rs6M a month, that we will only be able to hire the Hall for performances at the rate of Rs300,000 per night.
In my opinion this is the death knell to performance before it even starts, as there is hardly anyone except those with deep pockets or foreign rock star performances that can charge entrance fees to cover this cost, in addition to the other charges for a performance. If one takes the example of an audience of 1500 then it works out at Rs200 each. (The New “Lotus Pond” Performing Arts Center opposite Vihara Maha Devi)
In my opinion, it’s not. A death knell that is. Recent shows have included Jay Sean, Arash, and upcoming is Basement Jaxx, Chicane, Avicii, etc. Other performances have included Asha Bhosle and we almost had Akon. These gigs all pack in more than 1,500 people and cost well more than Rs. 200 a head. For a normal night at any nightclub its Rs. 1000 (for men) and most theatrical performances are at least Rs. 500.
Till now these acts haven’t really had a space to perform – Sugathadasa Stadium isn’t very nice, and other places are kinda ad hoc (Nawam Mawatha Parking Lot, Galle Face Lighthouse, Mount Lavinia Beach). We’re getting more acts, people are getting more income, and I think it could work.
If you’re organizing something serious, with sponsorship, Rs. 300,000 isn’t that much, especially if it comes with parking. However, if you’re organizing something serious without sponsorship, it is prohibitive. That’s why I do agree with Serendipity that the small theatre on top of the building should be cheaper and open for low budget high concept artists. Looking at the drawings, that looks like an amazing space, open air, a hundred meters above the city, in a big lotus birds nest.
The design itself is quite innovative. I thought it was random frills around a boxy building, but seen from above it’s actually shaped like a lotus, like the pools of Anuradhapura. Good stuff. I just wonder what we’re going to see inside.