Govt Confirms Delays to Renovation of SNG Drama Theatre

By , 25 Nov 2021, 11:41 AM Politics
SNG Drama SNG Drama Wikimedia - Žiga public domain

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STA, 25 November 2021 - Culture Minister Vasko Simoniti has acknowledged that the renovation of the SNG Drama theatre in Ljubljana will be delayed, which was the reason for the resignation of theatre's director Igor Samobor. Simoniti indicated this was because the ministry wanted to clear up certain issues to make sure the project is transparent.

Speaking for the Odmevi late-night show on RTV Slovenija on Wednesday, Simoniti dismissed Samobor's claims the ministry did not communicate with the theatre. He said he had met Samobor four times, but he did reject a one-on-one meeting given how complex and expensive the project is.

Related: Floods Close SNG Drama Ljubljana and Moderna Galerija Until Further Notice (Video)

The renovation was initially estimated at EUR 60 million, whereupon the price tag dropped to EUR 45 million. "These are exceptionally high figures that demand precise answers to the financiers - the state, which the minister is responsible for."

The draft of the new culture programme says, according to RTV Slovenija, that the start of the renovation will be pushed to 2023 and the new estimated price is EUR 21 million.

Simoniti did not specify why the ministry was allocating less money for the project. He said it simply provisionally set aside EUR 21 million, the figure set down in the last national culture programme.

An audit of the project that he demanded concluded that it is impossible to determine a precise price, the project designers put the price tag at EUR 43 million. "I'm afraid if they are setting such prices, the figures would be significantly higher and there would be an inordinate number of annexes to the agreement."

The ministry wants a "transparent and clear picture of what this is about," according to Simoniti.

There are also several outstanding issues concerning the project, according to him, for example the status of certain plots of land and the consent of local residents. Simoniti said there were also questions about plans to build deep underground, which posed a potential threat to the Drama building and the nearby German House.

The comments come after Samobor tendered his resignation on Monday due to what he described as government foot-dragging over the badly needed renovation of the building of Slovenia's largest theatre.

Samobor said one of the reasons for his decision was the probability that there is certain personal animosity between him and the minister, but Simoniti dismissed that as a "not too precious propaganda move" and noted this was not Samobor's personal project but the responsibility of the state.

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