Netrokona, which is known as a district of arts, literature and culture, has no modern auditorium. The lack of an auditorium is severely affecting the cultural life of the town, and cultural organisations there are shutting down one after another.
Mahua Auditorium, the only auditorium in the district town, was closed down permanently eight years ago. There has been no effort to build another one for holding cultural programmes since then.
Netrokona is the origin of the famous Mymensingh Geetika, a collection of folk ballads from the region. The district has innumerable symbols of folk cultures such as Baul, Bhatiali, Jari, Sari, Palagaan, Dhop, Kichcha, Kobi Gaan and Jatra.
In 1979, the cultural ministry had constructed an auditorium here named after Mahua, the main character of the Mymensingh Geetika. Despite faulty construction and decoration, the auditorium had become the centre for the district's cultural activities. It also became the centre for political organisations to hold meetings and rallies.
As many as 30 cultural organisations such as Bangladesh Udichi Shilpi Gosthi, Shilpakala Academy, Shotodol, Shikarh, Protyasha had played an active role in the district town 30 years ago. There were eight Jatrapala troops in the district. These organisations used to compete for arranging monthly or biennial cultural programmes.
Mostafizur Rahman, district unit president of Udichi, said, "It is difficult to stage dramas and other programmes without a modern auditorium. We have not been able to stage dramas for several years. We have kept our organisations functional by holding some indoor programmes."
After the Mahua auditorium was built, the Zilla Shilpakala Academy filed a case claiming ownership of the building. But the court gave Netrokona Municipality the responsibility of maintaining the building. However, the auditorium became unfit for use after 30 years because of faulty construction and lack of proper maintenance, and the municipality had to close it down in 2012.
After that, the district administration renovated the old, dilapidated and tin-shed public hall in the town's Mokterpara area. Then, political meetings, rallies, programmes marking different days and a few cultural functions were arranged at the hall. But it has insufficient sitting arrangements.
Zila Shilpakala Academy's former general secretary and drama-artist Sanawar Hossain Bhuiyan said, "We formed multiple human chains and pleaded to different offices demanding a modern auditorium in Netrokona. But all our efforts were in vain."
Deputy Commissioner Moyeenul Islam said that the administration has decided to demolish the old auditorium and build a modern one in its place. He also said that the government plans to construct another auditorium in the town as well.
"Yet another auditorium is also likely to be built at Sheikh Hasina University outside the town," he added.
Netrokona municipality mayor Nazrul Islam Khan echoed the deputy commissioner and added that a Tk6 crore fund has been allotted for a new auditorium. A tender will be floated soon for demolishing the old auditorium.
Zila Parishad Chairman Prashanta Kumar Roy said it had allocated Tk18 crore fund for the construction of a modern auditorium in the town. But it is a matter of concern that we can't get a single 87 decimal plot of land here for its construction.