Two draft plans on agenda for theaters
Recent statements about State Theaters have been protested by artists and art lovers in the country. Now there are two plans underway for the future of theaters.Two separate draft laws have been prepared regarding State Theaters, one of the controversial issues on the agenda recently following Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s announcement that they would be privatized. According to daily Radikal, works on draft laws have been carried out by the Prime Ministry and the Culture and Tourism Ministry.
According to the law draft prepared by the General Directorate of State Theaters, Opera and Ballet and Fine Arts under the coordination of Culture and Tourism Ministry Deputy Undersecretary Nihat Gül, State Theaters will not be closed, but artists will become contracted and a repertoire committee will oversee plays. State Theaters will continue to work within the body of Culture and Tourism Ministry.
The draft law prepared by the prime minister under the coordination of Eskişehir deputy Nabi Avcı is completely different from Gül’s. According to it, State Theaters will be closed, artists will be retired with significant levels of compensation and those whose time for retirement has not yet come will continue taking their salary without working.
The opinions of the International Theater Festivals Institute Director Refik Erduran were also taken into account in the draft law prepared by Avcı, which proposed the closure of State Theaters. Erduran said mention of privatization was a slip of the tongue. “Nobody wants to buy an institute which loses money. This may be called decentralization. Avcı called me and I exchanged my views with him during a conversation. It was not a report. A reform should have been made in State Theaters many years ago but they fought against each other rather than to improve the conditions. Theater artists could have tried to solve their problems with some formulas. There was a gap and politicians filled this gap,” he said.
‘Decision for privatization is right’
Speaking to Anatolia news agency, Turkey’s first Culture Minister Professor Talat Sait Halman said that the privatization of some theaters was the right decision. “There were the same problems in theaters 40 years ago. We saw that one of the artists had been paid his salary for 11 years without performing in a play and he was running a coffee house in Ankara.”
He said that when they examined the archive of State Theater artists they “saw that many theater artists had not taken the stage even for a single play in three years, but they still got their salary. They did not do anything for the theater. Artists didn’t have permission to take roles in other productions, but they had other jobs. Like the one who was running a coffee house,” Halman said.
Halman said that he was against artists working like a public servant. “I don’t want to be unfair. There are many artists working perfectly in these institutions, but there are those who never work and [still] take [a] salary. It is the mission of the state to fix this situation,” he said.