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25 Feb 13

Public Funding Scandal Hits Nis Theatre

Revelations about huge fees for top production staff on a play about the Emperor Constantine have raised questions about public expenditure on Nis’s National Theatre.

RTV Bell amie Nis
National Theatre in Nis | Youtube screen grab

Payments totalling around 170,000 euro were revealed by the Nis-based television station RTV Belle Amie, which published two documents containing 32 items for payment in the budget for the stage show Constantine.

While some 62,500 euro of that money comes from the city budget, another 100,000 comes from the state budget and 10,000 from the Nis theatre’s own sources.

According to the television station, the documents were made public despite the fact that the manager of the National Theatre in Nis, Ivan Vukovic, refused to release them.

According to the documents, actors will receive about 25,000 euro from the total budget, while 92,000 euro are due to be paid to senior members of the production team that was put together by Vukovic himself.

The city assembly decided to grant 62,500 euro for the play on February 11, when the 2013 budget for Nis’s National Theatre was adopted.

Representatives of political parties that voted for the budget said that they didn’t know that in addition to the 62,500 euro promised by the city, another 100,000 euro was granted from the state budget.

They also claim that they did not receive specific breakdowns of the proposed expenses.

Later on the evening of February 11, a document specifying the expenses was adopted by the theatre’s board, whose members saw the specifications for the first time at an urgent meeting.

The next meeting of the board took place on the morning of February 12 on the insistence of Vukovic, who informed its members that there was an additional budget of 100,000 euro coming from the state, and that he had already chosen all the top production staff that would be involved in the project.

RTV Belle Amie reported that a couple of members of the board who opposed this hasty procedure were called by members of the governing coalition in Nis and told that the plan must be adopted “no matter what” because it was a “project of national importance”.

A meeting then took place at 5pm the same afternoon and the programme was adopted, despite the huge fees which are much higher than those usually paid by Serbian theatre companies.

The two biggest fees will be given to the play’s director Jug Radivojevic and video designer Dorijan Kolundzija, who will receive a total of 40,000 euro between them.

Radivojevic’s fee will be double the amount that he claimed last year to earn per play.

RTV Belle Amie noted meanwhile that Kolundzija is the son of a high official from the Democratic Party, Nada Kolundzija.

It said that his non-government organisations Kiosk and Mikser, which deal with contemporary art and design, have also been in the spotlight because they received large amounts of public funds.

About 20,000 euro has been budgeted for taking care of special guests who will come to the show’s premiere, while creating the costumes and scenery will cost another 20,000 euro.

The play, which will be performed as part of Christian jubilee festivities in Nis commemorating the Edict of Milan, is an epic story about the first Christian emperor, directed by Radivojevic and written by Dejan Stoiljkovic.

It will bring together 22 actors from theatre companies from Nis, Belgrade, Krusevac, Kragujevac, Leskovac, Zajecar and Mitrovica.

 

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