Entertainment of 2014-01-08

Save Ghana’s National Theatre now

The edifice of Ghana’s National Theatre sits on a building area of about 11,896m2 at a vantage location in the capital city, Accra with complex architectural design as well as modern interior and exterior features.

The 1,500 seating [main auditorium] capacity is the country’s sole event venue which was purposely built to discover and develop talents in theatre or performing arts.

However, my recent visits to the 1992 state-of-the-art facility have been a bitter-sweet situation; whereas smiles greet all over my face to witness some of the best concerts and art performances, I have rather been compelled to address a developing canker of national interest.

Sitting at the main auditorium of the international-standard theatre to witness a program, one may seem satisfied about the place but not when one decides to make findings into the negative changing phase of the theatre.

The year 2013 ushered to us many events in Accra which included “Becca’s Girl Talk Concert”, Uncle Ebo White’s “Festival of Plays”, the premiere of “House of Gold” movie among others, some of which I managed to attend but my most recent visit to the facility required that I inquire about some few issues concerning the maintenance of the place.

Upon arrival, the filthy fountain in front of the theatre greeted my irreproachable being once again as I passed by with load of questions boggling my mind but there were some interesting revelations in the end.

After interrogations I was made aware the theatre have employees who receive monthly salary to make sure these fountains, plumbing works and others function normally. But to my dismay, it was a completely different story all together. The pool of water at the VVIP and VIP Lounge area posed a similar story to the one in front of the theatre.

The main stage of the facility has always been grubby as the mountain of garbage heaped just at the entrance to the backstage of the theatre and other places within the facility giving room for mosquitoes and other insects to perch and operate freely anywhere.

Many patrons may not be aware the stage is a movable one because it is hardly utilized leaving room for corrosion to take place over a long period of time. The last time I saw the stage been moved from underground to the brink was when the Africa UMOJA Concert was held at the venue both in 2010 and 2011. Unfortunately, there was no information available to me as to whether this function is still in place.

It was also revealed to me that most of the control boards that could assist employees to go on their respective duties are damaged and to some extent pins are used to either switch on and switch off some equipment like movable objects and lighting systems.

If one could notice, the main air conditioner that could power the whole room has broken down making way for some portable unit and split ones to be used which still can’t contain the temperature of audience filled to capacity. The changing rooms are also as desolate as a moving van with a faulty engine; rooms are fitted with fans and air-conditioners but most of them have not been working over years.

Moreover, the National Theatre houses at least three resident companies including the National Dance Company, the National Symphony Orchestra, and the National Theatre Players but performances either within or outside the country are least heard of. Ironically, I understand the government of Ghana allocates some funds out of the national budget to a facility that seemingly paints a picture of a public establishment that is built to make no profit.

There are employees at the facility who are supposed to work tireless to maintain this beautiful structure but definitely someone is not doing the his/her work to the satisfaction of myself and many Ghanaians.

These and many other issues that need to be addressed are rather driving the affairs of the beautiful building we all boast of as a national property.

It is no surprise that the facility has loss patronage to similar venues like the Accra International Conference Centre and the Dome. I therefore entreat the government of Ghana or any appropriate body to react to this issue which is more or less ignored in order to save our National Theatre or cause the country a great deal of income and source of employment to hundreds of workers.

Source: Yaw Sarpon
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