Artists in Kalimpong have demanded a public square or an open-stage in the town where they can organize performances for the people and hold meetings and discussions. The demand follows an incident that happened a month ago when ‘Caffeine and copies,’ a group that works to promote local literature and art, had to run from pillar to post and knock at every halls’ doors, as they sought permission to organize a performing- poetry programme.

Finding no hall for the same, the group was compelled to organized the event in the Industrial Park near Dambar Chowk. “Since then, our official Facebook page was flooded with comments like ‘this place should be a permanent space for artists to perform,’ while the episode triggered a debate among artists here, who started talking about the importance of having such a place for them,” said a member of the group. As this correspondent tried to conduct a survey on the topic, several respondents, some very young ones, shared their opinions.

Two students studying Mass Communication in a Darjeeling college said the name of the park is somehow misleading, and that it should be changed first. “The park’s gate is locked after 5 pm, but it should be open and people should not feel restricted. Industrial Park was good enough, but now it is known as the Jan Mukti Park,” said the duo, adding, “Darjeeling’s Chowrastha is open for all anytime.” An artist, Brihat Rai, said that ‘Caffeine and copies had done a wonderful event, but that the background was a rough concrete wall that looked untidy.

“If a stage is constructed there with proper background, we will get to see a lot of talents there every day,” he said. However, Samsher Ali, a writer and poet, added that the town must have a place like Chowrastha “for lightentertainment.” “We could have acoustic music concerts, poetry sessions or storytelling sessions there,” said Mr Ali, who is also a central committee member of the Gorkha Jan Mukti Morcha presently. Musicians, poets, storytellers, social workers, and even photographers have spoken for the need to have such an open-stage in the park.

“We need a permanent stage in the park to provide a platform for local artists,” said Deewakar Pradhan, a lyricist and composer of a music band. Stefan Francis, the manager of a popular band of the town, Doodles, feels that there is limited space or infrastructure for musicians to perform in the town. “We need a stage.

Each time we want to have a musical event, we have to hire the town hall and other such venues, which leaves us poorer by thousands of rupees. A permanent, open-stage is required not only for professional musicians, but also for those who just want to jam or busk,” he said.

Bharat Mani Pradhan, an intellectual and senior social worker also agreed that the town’s performing artists “need an amphitheater to showcase their talents and for spectators to sit back and enjoy.” “Let’s support their dream- -a stage for all kinds of literary and cultural live programmes in the Industrial Park in Kalimpong. We have so much talent here,” Bhernone Britto Lepcha, the land and land reforms officer wrote in the Caffeine and copies official Facebook page.