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Culture capital without a decent theatre?
AKEL in Paphos is intent on preventing the construction of a new town hall, claiming the money would be better spent on a municipal theatre.
Paphos councillor and member of the administrative committee Giorgos Siaelis told the Cyprus Mail: “I want all works on the new town hall to cease; instead turning the building into a new theatre for Paphos, as we don’t have one to speak of.”
The current municipal theatre- the Markideio is old, outdated and small, only able to hold an audience of around 400.
“This issue is important as Paphos will be the cultural capital of Europe in 2017 and it’s not possible for us to fulfill this role without a proper theatre. People from all over the world will attend cultural events here and we need to have a facility which we can be proud of,” Siaelis said.
If the new Town Hall does go ahead, Siaelis said he had a second suggestion; that the new town hall building could house a new theatre - one building with two purposes.
“Not only would my suggestion save money but I believe it would be technically possible. I have already spoken to an architect and will be discussing the matter with the municipality architects to ensure that the idea is viable,” he said.
Siaelis says he has the backing of Paphos Mayor Savvas Vergas, as well as the municipal council, although the subject has not been formerly addressed as yet.
According to the municipality, the new town hall, which is being built close to the church of Ayia Pantaras, has been under construction for the last nine months. The time frame for completion is three years.
Officials in Paphos have long been trying to find a suitable place to build a new theatre in the town, none of which have been successful.
A municipality spokesman said yesterday: “There is no official decision to try and find a new site to build a theatre. There are alternative solutions, but nothing concrete as yet.
“If we want to meet the time limits guiding us as the European capital of culture 2017, the municipal theatre must be ready by the end of 2016.The project needs to get underway by the end of this year at the latest.”
Unlike some other municipalities, Paphos officials say the municipality is in a good position to be granted bank loans, which would be needed for such a sizeable project, but due to the dire financial situation in Cyprus, especially in the banking sector, loans are not being granted.
According to the spokesman, Paphos municipality has a good source of income through taxes collected from water supply and the hotel overnight stay tax, amongst others.
He said: “We believe that in the coming months the situation may change. We may be given a special grant by the state for the completion of a new theatre.”
The municipality said different scenarios couldn’t be ruled out and that combining a theatre on the site of the new town hall could be one option.