By Angelos Anastasiou
The Council of Ministers on Wednesday approved the restoration of the Nicosia Municipal Theatre and its transformation into a cultural centre.
Deputy government spokesman Victoras Papadopoulos said that “the commencement of restoration works at the Nicosia Municipal Theatre has been approved by the Council of Ministers, aiming at its salvation and reoperation with a view to its utilisation as a venue for top-tier musical events.”
“That is, the Theatre’s restoration was decided to transform it into a culture centre,” he added.
Papadopoulos explained that the Council of Ministers authorised the education ministry to carry out all necessary steps, in collaboration with the Nicosia municipality and the communications and works ministry, in order to prepare the necessary studies that would determine the exact cost of the theatre’s restoration.
Later on Wednesday, Nicosia mayor Constantinos Yiorkadjis issued a statement expressing his satisfaction at the government’s decision.
“The Council of Ministers’ decision gives us great pleasure,” the statement read. “I am certain that the pleasure is shared by the thousands of Nicosia citizens for the reoperation of this historic cultural site.”
Yiorkadjisclaimed credit on behalf of the city council for managing to nudge the government closer to the decision.
“This decision was made possible following the submission to various government levels of our proposals to promote the rescue and restoration of the Nicosia Municipal Theatre,” Yiorkadjis said. “I would like to thank the President of the Republic and the members of the Council of Ministers for today’s decision.”
The decision comes six years after roof of the theatre collapsed, leaving the building abandoned and its future in doubt. The building lies just across from the Cyprus Museum and is next door to the House of Representatives. Work to build the theatre began in 1958 but was not completed due to money running out. The first performance did not take place until March 25, 1967.
The municipality had spent €5.6 million refurbishing the building only two-and-a-half years before the roof collapsed on June 11, 2008, just a day before hundreds of school children were to use the place for an end-of-year performance.
At the time, the plan was to find another use for the theatre as the Cyprus Cultural Foundation had already been set up in 2005 and tasked with the creation of the Cyprus Cultural Centre to replace the municipal theatre as the main venue for Nicosia. However the cost of the Centre was estimated at over €80 million, and its construction was suspended in 2013 in light of the country’s dire economic state.