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Trouble brewing at the Cyprus Symphony Orchestra amid fears state funding will be cut off

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File photo: Cyprus Symphony Orchestra hits the road

The house education and culture committee on Wednesday hit all the wrong notes as the symphony orchestra (Cyso) charged political interference in its work, amid risks it will lose its state funding.

“We are experiencing a climate of distrust and there are constant interventions that create difficulties and problems,” Cyso’s chairman Stavros Kattamis told deputies.

He added Andreas Antoniadis who was formerly the director of the finance ministry’s accounting services was appointed to evaluate Cyso’s internal audit systems without prior consultation.

Kattamis also said the deputy culture ministry had already informed them they would not be getting a grant.

Permanent secretary at the deputy culture ministry Emmanuela Lambrianides said that the problems at Cyso were highlighted by the auditor general’s report for 2021, which revealed issues currently being investigated by police’s financial crime unit.

An investigation is also being carried out against two former members of the orchestra’s board.

Antoniadis’ report noted “the results of the evaluation demonstrate that while there is a fairly robust regulatory framework, policies and procedures, there are significant weaknesses in implementation.”

According to Lambrianides, if Cyso does not comply with the instructions, the state grant can be cut off and a refund can be requested.

Without delving into details, she added there were certain timeframes the board had not adhered to.

Akel MP Christos Christofides said the issue had been tabled to the committee as employees at the orchestra had complained of a “crescendo of interferences” from the deputy culture ministry as of late.

Among other things, the interferences concern the organization chart in the academies of the Symphony Orchestra, but also for the cancellation of the opera ‘Electra’.

Christofides highlighted “what worried us even more is the information that many of the interventions are initiated by the presidential palace for reasons related to previous boards of directors”.

Disy MP Giorgos Karoullas meanwhile stressed the discussion illustrated the importance of modernising the institutional framework of organisations which receive state grants. He noted that consultation between all those involved is necessary so that the workers at Cyso are not victimized.

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