Albanian artists give government deadline to withdraw national theater project, warn protests will deteriorate

Tirana Times
By Tirana Times June 13, 2018 12:07

Albanian artists give government deadline to withdraw national theater project, warn protests will deteriorate

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  • In their weekly Monday meeting, actors said they were worried the building might get demolished during the summer, when media attention is smaller and the artistic season comes to a close.

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TIRANA, June 12 – Albania’s Theatre Alliance said Friday, June 15, at 7pm, is the last deadline for the government to withdraw its draft law to destroy the existing National Theatre, before artists enter the building and lock themselves inside.

“In case the government doesn’t withdraw its draft law until next Friday, at 7pm, we will enter the theatre building and won’t come out,” actor Robert Budina said.

In their weekly Monday meeting, actors said they were worried the building might get demolished during the summer, when media attention is smaller and the artistic season comes to a close.

“During our meeting with the parliament speaker, he stressed they will not take any decisions without our agreement. A few days after that meeting, the government’s actions show the opposite. They want to use the finalization of the artistic season so that no one is there,” Alert Celoaliaj said.

In a meeting on Wednesday with the Commission for Media and Education – also supposed to be attended by Minister for Culture Mirela Kumbaro and other Socialist Party lawmakers who were absent – actor Robert Ndrenika said this Public-Private Partnership is theft on the government’s side.

“The silence of the socialist officials and the way they ignore our arguments make us suspect that there is a clear corrupt affair that aims to seize the National Theater for its own business purpose,” Ndrenika said.

Meanwhile, some of the country’s lawyers have also spoken against the contract behind the project law that will build a new theatre building, saying it is irregular.

“It’s the first time that a specific draft law is made in the name of a pre-selected contracting party and there is no public contest or prior notice for interest groups. There are legal issues to a Constitutional level,” lawyer Enida Bozheku said.

The project, along with the company that is to build the new high-rise complex part of which the new theatre is supposed to be, is pending since Prime Minister Edi Rama was the country’s mayor.

Protests on the Ministry of Culture’s draft law to relocate the theatre to a new building in the city’s outskirts as the historic downtown building is demolished to be rebuilt as part of a high-rise commercial complex initially began in February.

The petition, started by 74 actors, reached 4,000 signatures within a week.

Government representatives held meetings with the actors, ensuring them no steps would be taken without consultation and cooling down reactions until last week, when the National Theatre issue resurfaced.

Artists, the civil society and the Theatre Alliance alike told media this is a cause worth fighting for presently and in the future.

 

 

Tirana Times
By Tirana Times June 13, 2018 12:07