As KA Crumbles, Stage is Set For Blame Game

By Nida Sayed

“We will find out the facts and figures behind it. From my understanding, the Kala Academy main building is separate from the main structure. It was a fabricated structure and only the area above the stage has collapsed.”

“We will understand the cause behind this and only after the PWD finds out the reason behind the collapse, will I be able to comment as the chairman of Kala Academy and as art and culture minister,” said Gaude Prior to the renovation works being sanctioned, Gaude had pointed out the structure’s fragility — as well as that of the ‘Black Box’ beneath it — as the reason behind the upgradation works.

Kala Academy, the state’s biggest and most prominent arts centre, was designed by the legendary architect Charles Correa. However, after his death, art and culture minister Govind Gaude’s statement that the government would demolish part of the structure evoked a storm of protests, and also resulted in a suo motu case in the high court of Bombay at Goa.

Opposition leaders, meanwhile, demanded Gaude’s resignation, since he had initiated the renovation work. After the initial outcry about the demolition of the much-loved structure, in May 2021, renovation works were then taken up. It was planned to have the premises open in time for the 53rd International Film Festival of India in November 2022.

This deadline too flew by, and the reopening of the building has been in limbo ever since. A large portion of the building continues to be under scaffolding, with no sign of it being even close to completion. While the exterior of the amphitheatre is largely intact, the stage lies under a mass of rubble, exposing twisted remains of metallic stilts, brick, and mortar.

The sight of the much-loved structure, which once stood bathed in moonlight on concert nights, stripped of its beauty, left Goans saddened and reminiscing with bittersweet nostalgia, and has angered architects who consider the building an emblem of Goan art, culture, and architecture.

“The procedure was completely faulty,” said architect Fernando Velho, who worked with Correa during the first renovation in 2003. “Until they have a conservation architect on board, the restoration would not make sense. Ultimately, the responsibility of the work would completely be the architect’s responsibility. However, here, the project was given to a consultant with no experience with architectural conservation,” he said.

“We are alarmed but not surprised to hear that part of the Kala Academy amphitheatre has collapsed. The PWD and the government have prevented us from inspecting the site right through the entire process, and we cannot comment on the work done,” the Charles Correa Foundation said.

This article was originally posted in The Times of India on 18 July 2023. Extracted on 01 August 2023 from the original here.

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