There used to be a time when even fledgling organisations with scarce funds could conduct public meetings or conventions in the city for a few hundred rupees. For cultural organisations and non-governmental organisations which have been doing exemplary work on the ground, this was a huge blessing. Meeting venues or halls could be hired even on hourly rents.

But over the past couple of years, the rising costs in every other sector have reflected on the rentals of almost all the major halls or auditoriums in the city. It has doubled, tripled and even quadrupled in some cases.

For example, VJT Hall at Palayam, which has witnessed many iconic speeches and plays, increased its daily rent from Rs. 3,750 to Rs. 9,300 in June. Adding to this base cost is two taxes of 12 per cent and 10 per cent, the latter for luxury.

The rent for the main hall of the Kanakakunnu Palace, which seats 240, is Rs. 18,000, along with the taxes mentioned above. The rent for the fair ground to the left of the palace’s entry point has been increased from Rs. 5,000 to Rs. 20,000.

The University Senate Hall has increased its rent almost three times in recent times to around Rs. 50,000. In the case of new-age private halls, which are part of hotels, the rents go through the roof.

One of the major additions to the cost of running these halls has been in the electricity charges.

“The electricity charges have certainly increased. We had not revised the rent for many years. So the raise now is considering that too,” says Pradeep Mathew, Manager, VJT Hall.

Several cultural organisations that The Hindu talked to said the rise in rentals even in government-run halls has been a big blow.

“Even when we somehow find the money to pay the rent, these halls are not available. There is a tendency to block bulk dates for fairs and exhibitions as they are more profitable for the owners,” said one of the organisers.

Some of the smaller venues such as Bishop Pereira Hall, which once used to host public functions, have now become exclusive wedding halls.