The representatives of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in Iceland suggested while the 2009 budget bill was in the making that state-run cultural institutions be closed temporarily to save expenses.
The National Theater. Photo by Eddi Jónsson.
It was suggested that the National Theater close for three years. The proposal was rejected in its entirety, Fréttablaðið reports.
“And this was mentioned in absolute seriousness,” revealed Minister of Education and Culture Katrín Jakobsdóttir in her speech at the Icelandic parliament, Alþingi, on Friday when presenting an oral report on the affairs of museums in Iceland.
In an interview with Fréttablaðið, the minister added that the temporary closing of the National Gallery and National Museum for saving purposes had also been suggested, along with all other cultural institutions run by the state.
Katrín said these ideas demonstrate the challenge Icelandic authorities faced when forced to make cutbacks following the banking collapse.
However, these ideas were never an option to them because they would have had an immense negative impact on the community, she explained.
The National Theater employs between 400 and 500 people in an average season. The theater’s annual report for 2010 states that for the fifth year in a row, ticket sales had increased with almost 100,000 people coming to see 24 plays.
In the state’s budget for 2010, ISK 700 million (USD 5.6 million, EUR 4.3 million) were allocated to the National Theater, which was decreased to ISK 647 million in 2011. This year, state contribution to the theater has increased again, amounting to ISK 679 million.