Pimpri-Chinchwad, 2nd June 2023: The Pimpri-Chinchwad Municipal Corporation (PCMC) has announced an increase in theater rents, effective from July 1. However, this move has raised concerns among residents and cultural enthusiasts, who fear that the burgeoning cultural movement in the city may suffer a setback due to the significant price hike.
The affected theaters include Chinchwad Prof. Ramakrishna More Auditorium, Acharya Atre Auditorium at Sant Tukaramnagar, Ankushrao Landge Auditorium at Bhosari, Natsamrat Nilu Phule Auditorium at Navi Sangvi, and Pradhikaran’s Nigdi Auditorium. These Auditorium, established by the Municipal Corporation, boast state-of-the-art facilities and have been popular venues for commercial plays, political events, social gatherings, ceremonies, competitions, and private events. Compared to private halls, these auditoriums have been known for their reasonable rates. However, the PCMC has cited insufficient income to cover expenses as the reason behind the rent hike.
Notably, the rental rates for Landge Auditorium have remained unchanged since 2012, while Atre Auditorium’s rates have not been revised since 2002 and Nilu Phule Auditorium since 2017. The auditoriums generate an annual income of Rs 50 to 60 lakhs, but the expenditure exceeds one crore.
Consequently, the PCMC has decided to revise the rental rates to achieve a balance between income and expenditure. The revised rates are scheduled to be implemented from July 1, 2023.
Under the new pricing structure, non-ticketed Marathi plays in the main hall of Prof. Ramakrishna More Auditorium with air-conditioning will cost Rs 8,000 for three hours of orchestra, and Rs 12,000 for ticketed programs. Schools will be charged Rs 30,000 for three hours, while colleges will pay Rs 48,000 for five hours, and other institutions will be charged Rs 60,000.
Similarly, for Ankushrao Landge Auditorium, Acharya Atre Auditorium, Natsamrat Nilu Phule Auditorium in Navi Sangvi, the rates for free air-conditioned Marathi plays are set at Rs 7,200 for three hours of orchestra and Rs 10,800 for ticketed events. Schools will be charged Rs 27,000 for three hours, colleges Rs 43,200 for five hours, and other institutions Rs 54,000. Rehearsal rates and rates for color rehearsals will remain comparatively lower.
In a separate development, the Nigdi Authority, which invested 66 crore rupees in the Nigdi region, has decided to lease out the Madgulkar Auditorium. The decision was made following demands from citizens to the ‘A’ ward office, and the Standing Committee has approved the lease arrangement.
While the Municipal Corporation claims that the rent hike is necessary to ensure better facilities and sustainability, there has been criticism from various quarters. Bhausaheb Bhoir, President of the All India Marathi Theater Council, Pimpri-Chinchwad Branch, expressed concern over the lack of expert consultation and urged administrators to avoid hasty decisions.
Shekhar Singh, Commissioner of the Pimpri-Chinchwad Municipal Corporation, defended the rent increase, stating that rates have remained low for Marathi plays, school programs, and that other institutions and entrepreneurs should pay rent according to their capacity.