Cyprus Mail

Fate of cultural centre to be decided

A total of 13.8 EUR million has already been spent on the centre that has never materialised

By Peter Stevenson 

THE FUTURE of the beleaguered Cyprus Cultural Centre will be decided by the cabinet within the next two weeks, Education Minister Kyriacos Kenevezos has told deputies.

Commissioner for Internal Audit Andreas Lambrianou told the Cyprus Mail that one way or the other, a decision needed to be made regarding the centre’s future.

“The centre was to be funded through an EU development programme which began in 2007 and ended this year but our department which handles EU development programme funding had not received information that the centre had been entered,” he said.

This would leave the centre with two options, he said.

“Anyone entering the 2007-2013 programme was given an extension until December of 2015 which would mean the cultural centre would need to apply as soon as possible for funding within this five-year programme or wait and apply for funding for the next programme which is from 2014 until 2020,” he explained.

If a decision was made not to complete the centre then the government would need to pay off a number of contracts signed with architects, consultants and developers who have drawn-up plans.

“The government would have to either come to a settlement with the various people involved in the centre’s construction or the matter would go to arbitration which could prove to be a costly issue,” he said.

According to the Auditor General Chrystalla Georghadji’s report, between 2005 and 2011 a total of €13.8 million was spent on the centre.

During a House Watchdog Committee meeting on Tuesday she said that if a decision was made to go ahead with opening the centre, the government would only be able to receive 40 per cent of the funding.

“Research needs to be done. We removed the town planning department from the government buildings they were housed in to open a cultural centre there but that has not gone ahead,” she said.

The committee will begin investigating the matter in two weeks time according to its chairman Georgios Georgiou.

“The project has been postponed, year after year and a letter to the communications ministry from the planning committee in April of last year said that the project would begin no later than early 2013 and would not require an extension to be completed,” he said.

For a number of years, efforts were ongoing to create a modern cultural centre in Cyprus that would establish the island as a regional leader in cultural activities. To this end, the Cyprus Cultural Foundation was established in 2005 by the government and tasked with the creation of the Cyprus Cultural Centre in Nicosia. In July 2009, preparations had been completed and work was due to start but the centre was put on the back burner by the previous government as it coincided with their pre-election campaign.

The Cultural Centre was due to be opened to the general public in 2015 as a national venue for the performing arts – in particular symphonic and chamber music, dance, opera and musical theatre. Located in the heart of Nicosia, the Presidential Palace, the new House of Representatives, the new State Theatre, the new State Art Gallery.

The director of the Cultural Foundation Tassos Angelis said that he was waiting for the final decision on the centre’s future.

“We have repeated our views to the ministries and relevant authorities and are simply waiting for an outcome, whatever it might be,” he said.

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