From: Alice Elizabeth Taylor
Municipality Withdraws National Theatre PPP, Development to go Ahead With Public funds

The Municipality of Tirana has announced that the site of the current National Theatre will not be developed by Fusha spk, but rather with public funds.

According to a statement released today, the new theatre will be built with public money and will meet all of the requirements of the artists for functioning as a theatre space.

The reason for the decision to not work with a private third party is due to the companies inability to execute the project in a timely manner and in accordance with the necessary technical requirements. The Theatre and the surrounding development was expected to be built in collaboration with the governments favoured developed Fusha spk and controversial Danish architect Bjarke Ingels.

The statement reads that the Municipality will “ask the government to provide financial support for the realisation of the National Theatre.”

For two years, Rama and Veliaj have justified the PPP project with the argument that the Municipality and the government have no funds to afford the construction.

The PPP project, backed by a “special law” that has been deemed unconstitutional and illegal, provided for the demolition of the theatre and private construction. In return, the private company was given public land and permission to build a number of towers. The law is currently in the hands of the Constitutional Court after being sent there by President Meta.

It is worth mentioning that today’s declaration of the Municipality of Tirana is the first to be made in these six months since the opening of the tender for the construction of the National Theater.

The tender was opened in July 2019. The companies had until September to submit bids, but the City Hall failed to provide information on the decision-making and procedures taken. Meanwhile, citizens and activists opposed to the collapse of the National Theater have not received any response to their requests for information.

In a statement today, City Hall says work on the new theatre will begin within this year and will build it “in a shorter time and meet all the technical requirements expressed by the community of artists in public consultations.”

By removing the involvement of a private entity, the government appears to be preemptively circumventing any negative judgement on the special law by the Constitutional Court. It is not known where the government will find the vast sum of money needed to realise the project, especially at a time when Albania has had to borrow almost EUR 1 billion from EU countries to recover from the 26 November earthquake. It also remains to be seen which company will be contracted to carry out the physical works on the theatre, which will still be demolished against the will of artists and members of civil society.

The National Theatre is one of Tirana’s few remaining cultural relics and is shortlisted for the “7 Most Endangered Heritage Sites in Europe” by Europa Nostra. Members of civil society, artists, academics and intellectuals have been guarding the Theatre day and night for almost two years to protect it against demolition.