The Song Festival stage is removed, the hall returns to the parking lot
The burned hall of the Palace of Youth and Sports has returned to the state it was in before the RTK Song Festival, despite the fact that there were promises that the stage with the tracking equipment, which cost over 150 thousand euros, would remain there and be used for other events. It was the mayor of Pristina who declared this. Three weeks later, there is no more scene
One of the headlines of the first edition of the Song Festival on Radio and Television of Kosovo was the transformation of the burnt hall into a magnificent stage. Right after the Festival, there were quick promises that it will remain with the same splendor, and concerts, festivals and various shows will continue to be organized there. That it will become an icon.
No more than three weeks have lasted such promises. They fell into the water with the termination of the contract for the equipment taken into use and the materials with which the hall was disguised. On Friday, the scene is completely undone. The burned down hall in the Palace of Youth and Sports, transformed for the three nights of the Song Festival on Radio and Television of Kosovo, has returned to its previous state. All the elements that gave the views of the grand hall have been removed.
The walls were completely covered with black material, as were the carpets in the stands of the hall. In the part near the stage, the audience was accommodated in chairs, which were placed step by step. The floor was also completely covered there. The signs of the completely burned space after the war were covered and since then it had been turned into a kind of warehouse or garbage dump. Not only that what should not be seen was covered, but preparations were also made for the decor part. A staircase with a wave-shaped floor and decorated with lights, along with a giant Festival sign graced the stage. The water leaks in the hall, the fire, the effort to remove the soot and the image full of garbage were among those mentioned in the three nights of the Festival.
Now, the skeleton of the stage is all that remains of the image that was created for the first edition of the Festival, although the mayor of Pristina, Pëparim Rama, had publicly announced that cultural events would continue to be held there.
"Concerts, festivals, various performances, all of these will be realized from now on in the new stage created in the former burned hall of the Youth Palace. This institution belongs to citizens, artists, sports fans and everyone who wants to express their talent on this stage. The director of RTK, Shkumbin Ahmetxhekaj, along with the fantastic team of scenographers, agreed with this during the visit we made to the premises of the Palace", President Rama wrote on the "Facebook" network on November 2. On the final night of the Festival, he said that the revitalization of the entire Youth Palace is being planned.
"We are doing the feasibility of the entire space, we have done the analyzes with the city architect and now we have a new program, with a public-private partnership to revitalize the entire Palace of Youth. This shows that if we want to do work, we can do it. There is no reason not to revitalize all these icons, especially the icons of the capital. Starting with the wonderful Palace of Youth", said President Rama. A day after the end of the Song Festival, Rama himself had published the "before-after" version of the hall. Today the appearance of the hall is the same as it was.
On Friday, there are few signs of the Festival left on the stage. There is only a black curtain without being removed that covers a small area of the destroyed wall. There is also the giant stage skeleton, for which RTK paid 90 euros. For other parts, a private company was engaged with a contract of 68 thousand euros. The contract expired on Wednesday, November 22. On Thursday, the company withdrew its shares. The hall has been turned into a parking lot again.
The general director of RTK, Shkumbin Ahmetxhekaj, said that immediately after the Festival they asked that the stage not be removed.
"When the Festival ended, it was our request that if possible the bases of that big stage remain there, since now the Festival will be annual and RTK intends to have other concerts, for Independence Day, the Flag Festival and others. We had a meeting with the Mayor of the Municipality to clarify whether we would be able to use the space in the future. It was an agreement that such a thing can be done, and on the day when we visited the hall, all the means of support were there, those that hold the hall and the scenography", said Ahmetxhekaj while he assessed the burnt hall as the most appropriate in Pristina to organize the Song Festival.
The contract between "AMC" and the Public Housing Enterprise also determined the duration of the use of parts of the stage.
Director Ahmetxhekaj said that it seems that the Municipality and the company have not agreed that the elements of the scene should be left there due to the amount of funds that have been requested.
"We had a joint meeting with the mayor of the Municipality of Pristina and it was their will to keep the stage there so that RTK can continue to hold the next Festival. At the same time, the Municipality can use it for other activities. In the meantime, the company contracted to rent the equipment on stage, also curtains and stairs, according to the officials of the Municipality, has asked very high to keep the equipment there. This amount was unaffordable for the Municipality", said Ahmetxhekaj.
Besfort Berisha, director of "AMC" has denied this. He said that they withdrew the items according to the contract and that they were not asked to extend its duration.
"We have not been able to ask for more tools since the terms of the contract were 30 days to keep the equipment, for the needs of the Festival. There was no legal basis to ask for more, because they had no way to pay them. The equipment is given only for the needs of the Festival, 30 days, that is, from the moment of the end of the Festival, they are returned. The NPB announced the public contract, we applied, we received the contract, we carried out the work, the Festival was completed and we dismantled the things", said Berisha.
According to him, the equipment that was intended only for the Song Festival cannot be used for another organization.
"The equipment is not conducive to being there for any type of organization because it is dedicated to a festival. They are not equipment that can be used for a rock festival or something else, because they were given by contract for the Song Festival", said Berisha. According to him, the equipment with which the Song Festival was supplied is worth 600 thousand euros.
Radiotelevision of Kosovo and the Albanian one had plans to organize a joint concert there in honor of November 28. The orchestras of the two television stations would play. According to Ahmetxhekaj, the concert was canceled because the cost of 80 euros was required, a budget that, according to him, RTK does not currently have available.
Regarding the skeleton that is the property of RTK, the general director of the public broadcaster said that they have taken measures to preserve their part of the scenography and that they were promised by the Municipality that they will "functionalize the hall as soon as possible for the next concert that it is expected to be held at the beginning of next year".
"We found out that no agreement has been reached and we have seen that the company has started to remove the equipment, we have contacted the Municipality who have confirmed that they will soon take steps to keep the hall as it was. It is also in RTK's interest that that space continues to be used for concerts, because we intend to have other concerts as well", said Ahmetxhekaj while stating that they expect the same standard in the next editions as the first.
RTK's challenge is now the space to preserve the skeleton of the scene.
"The main building will remain, because that's how we have the agreement, to look at the possibilities to invest again to use the hall, while the rest, the face and others remain the property of RTK, but it should be taken into account that the preservation itself in the RTK facility is complex, as our spaces are extremely limited", he said.
The mayor of Pristina, Përparim Rama, and the head of the Youth Palace, Mrika Gashi, have not responded on this topic.
In February of this year, through a memorandum of cooperation, the Ministry of Culture pledged 750 euros for RTK for three years. This year, 300 euros were given and went to the Festival, even though the memorandum also mentions the establishment of a television channel for art and culture.
The director of RTK, Shkumbin Ahmetxhekaj, said that 250 thousand euros are foreseen for the next edition and 200 thousand euros for the third.
A few days before the first edition of the Festival, which was held on October 26, 27 and 28, the mayor of Pristina, Përparim Rama, had said that as the capital, together with the Palace of Youth and the Public Housing Enterprise, they have allocated 350 thousand euros of investment "for them implemented this project of reviving the icon of the capital".
Regarding the revitalized and transformed space of the sports hall in the Palace of Youth and Sports in use of the RTK Song Festival, the director of the event, Adi Krasta, said on the final night that it should serve the art of culture. He had asked not to return to its former destination and that he had addressed his request to the Ministry of Culture and the Municipality of Pristina.
"I would have prayed for the first three years of the Festival to take place on the same stage, as this is a big, very expensive investment. I hope this hall is no longer used for parking, enough, cars have a place somewhere else. Art and culture should be made in this place, and this environment should be used in the interest of the public", said Krasta.
The historic event was considered by the organizers of the art lovers to be a celebration for the genuine Albanian song. Attempts to start a new chapter and at least for three nights the image had been bright, even though it "hid" the gloomy reality, starting from the hall where it was held.
The hall adapted for the Festival had capacity for more than 1.600 people. The signs of destruction had been patched up. It was believed that the end of the event also marked the return of a part to its previous state.
Now on the floor are also the remnants with which the victory was celebrated, such as colored exploding papers. Their brilliance is the only sign that breaks the gloom of the hall.
© KOHA. All rights are reserved.