The State theatre organisation (Thoc) on Friday said it would carry on funding private theatre groups for next year as part of a sponsorship scheme pending court proceedings over a dispute with the Commission for the Protection of Competition (EPA) on the matter.
Scores of actors protested outside the Nicosia Supreme Court on Friday morning as proceedings continued into Thoc’s request for the suspension with immediate effect of a decision by EPA that ordered it to immediately stop the funding citing unhealthy competition. The court upheld Thoc’s appeal giving the organisation the opportunity to carry on with the Thymeli theatrical sponsorship scheme at least for next year.
Τhe two sides will submit their positions in court next May before a final decision is issued.
EPA also slapped Thoc with a fine of €342,220.
Thoc announced on Wednesday that it would freeze funding for the scheme for the first half of 2020 pending a court appeal it filed against the EPA ruling.
Independent theatre groups rely heavily on the Thymeli scheme for funds to stage their productions. Outside the court, a small number of actors gathered holding placards saying among other things “Culture cannot be measured with business criteria”.
EPA’s decision follows a complaint filed some three years ago by a private theatre company accusing Thoc of taking advantage of its dominant position and for unilaterally deciding on the amount of sponsorship for each theatre, regardless of criteria set by the market, but with criteria it sets on its own and without any oversight.
EPA its ruling frowns upon the fact that Thoc is responsible for approving and distributing sponsorships to other theatres when it is a competitor in the market for the production and staging of plays.