Friday, 1 July, 2022

Cultural activists dissatisfied despite increase in allocation

Cultural activists have said that they are frustrated regarding the budgetary allotment for the country’s cultural sector for 2022-23 fiscal year though the allocation has been increased compared to the last FY.

While placing the budget for the next FY in Jatiya Sangsad on Thursday, Finance Minister AHM Mustafa Kamal proposed Tk 637 crore for the Ministry of Cultural Affairs.

This time, Tk 390 crore has been allocated for the management sector and Tk 247 crore to the development sector. Last year, the allocation for the cultural sector was Tk 587 crore while it was later revised to Tk 578 crore.

This year the allocation has increased by Tk 59 crore as compared to the last time but cultural activists, however, could not be satisfied with the proposed budget.

“We, the cultural activists, are disappointed with the budget proposed by the government for the cultural sector. We think that the cultural arena has been neglected in this budget,” said Golam Quddus, President of Sammilita Sangskritik Jote.

Eminent organisers and performers said cultural sector always gets deprived in the budget. Though the government has said that it will prioritise culture, it has remained only as rhetoric. In reality its reflection has not been found.

Renowned thespian Ramendu Majumdar said, “A nationwide cultural awakening is needed to bring about a positive change in people’s thinking to build a humane and non-communal society. In this case, state investment is essential. Nominal donations cannot save the nation from an omnipresent crisis.”

Cultural sector insiders said a comprehensive plan is required to bring new life to cultural arena. All the infrastructural development will not be sustainable in any way by neglecting the culture, they said.

“The amount that has been increased compared to last time is not adequate. The most vital point is there is no specific plan for the country’s art and culture. No one knows how to spend the allocated money. It is not possible to develop anything without a precise plan,” said celebrated playwright Masum Reza.

Usually the leaders of the Sammilita Sangskritik Jote react after the announcement of the budget every year, this year they were vocal from the beginning and organised a press conference at Dhaka Reporters’ Unity a month ago.

They placed several demands including the allocation of at least 1 per cent money to the Ministry of Cultural Affairs for constructing modern auditorium of 500 seats and an open stage in each upazila, Bangabandhu Birth Centenary Memorial Building of 700 seats in every district, art galleries for art exhibitions and mini auditoriums for short film and documentary exhibitions in each district and allot yearly money for cultural organisations and monthly grants for indigent artistes.

But they said none of their demands have been met.

“We called the government to allocate at least 1 per cent of the total budget for the country’s cultural sector if it wants to uphold the secular spirit and build Bangladesh according to the spirit of the Liberation War. But we did not get its reflection in the proposed budget,” Golam Quddus said.

The Sammilita Sangskritik Jote president hoped that the government will increase the allocation further before amending the budget in the parliament.