By Constantinos Psillides
A NUMBER of projects ‘of great cultural significance’ are currently underway, said Culture and Education Minister Kostas Kadis on Friday, chief of which was turning the old Nicosia Municipal Theatre into a cultural centre.
Kadis told reporters that the his ministry would soon start work on the theatre, restore buildings near the Famagusta Gate to house the National Gallery – expected to finish in 2016- and has also ordered a feasibility study for the Cyprus Archaeological Museum, which is to be built where the old Nicosia General Hospital once stood, opposite the House of Representatives.
“The ministry considers these projects to be of great importance, a set of valuable tools in promoting culture in our country,” said Kadis, following a news conference at the ministry.
Regarding the Municipal Theatre, Kadis said that it was a symbolic building, “which is why the ministry is working closely with all competent authorities to restore it and put it to good use.”
The municipal theatre has been abandoned since June 2008, when its roof collapsed overnight, a day before hundreds of school children were expected to stage an end-of-year performance there.
Kadis said that the ministry would spend €5 million towards restoring the theatre, out of the €7.5 million needed. The Nicosia municipality will cover the rest of the cost, according to its Mayor Constantinos Yiorkadjis. The education ministry will get to use the building for 100 days per year for free, for a period of 20 years.
Communications and Works Minister Marios Demetriades, who was also present at the meeting, assured Kadis that his ministry would do everything in its power to facilitate all of the projects in the works.
Yiorkadjis thanked both ministers, adding in his speech that the collaboration proved that when there is would always be a way.
“The Nicosia Municipal Theatre was always more than a theatre. It’s a symbol of culture, not only for Nicosia but for the whole island,” he said.
Asked to specify from where the funds would come to restore the theatre, Kadis responded that they were diverting funds from the budget originally intended for building the failed Cultural Centre.
The state decided five months ago to scrap the idea of building the mammoth cultural centre and have now opted instead to restore the abandoned municipal theatre instead.
Kadis said that the accident that happened in 2008 was an “unfortunate but isolated incident” and should not deter the public from returning.