KOCHI: Finally, Kochi will gift its pride, theatre artist P J Antony, with a befitting memorial. To honour the greatest stage artist of all time, the city will throw open the renovated P J Antony Memorial Cultural Centre and Open Air Stage to the public from Thursday. Located at P J Antony Road in Pachalam, the vast ground and the renovated open-air stage was inaugurated by P T Thomas MP on Wednesday.
According to Pachalam councillor Albert Ambalathingal, the renovation cost Rs 35 lakh. “Though the cultural centre had been there for some time, it was never utilised. The place was used by children as a playground. A dispensary and anganwadi functioned there. But, this year we could utilise the Plan Fund to give it a makeover,” says Albert.
The councillor says they hope to make the area a cultural hub. “This is a tribute to the maverick P J Antony. A centre at the place he lived and loved would do a lot for the cultural activities here. We hope to model the spot on the lines of Changampuzha Park. However, we need more resources and funds for the same,” said Albert.
The centre will now boast of an open-air auditorium and a performance centre, including green rooms for artists. More work will be carried out in later phases. “The centre has a lawn but it will be beautified later. We hope to source funds from MPs and MLAs for the project,” he added.
A coordination committee which includes members of the Senior Citizen Forum, Kudumbasree and Resident’s Association will monitor the maintenance of the Cultural Centre and the Open Air Stage.
Once the centre is thrown open to the public, the Corporation will hold a meeting to fix a rate for renting out the stage and the premises. “A council meeting will be held in this regard soon,” he added.
Walkway and playground
The cultural centre, which was in an abandoned state for long, also has a walkway. According to local residents, a lot of people had been using the walkway until children from the nearby areas began using it as a playground. “Most of them were old people and they left the place as they were scared of cricket balls hitting them. Now that the renovation has happened, we plan to allocate a small playground for children on the eastern portion of the centre. The ground will be levelled and we also plan a volleyball-football ground,” said Albert.