Albanian artists denounce ‘systematic underfunding’ in open letter as National Theatre demolished

Albanian artists denounce ‘systematic underfunding’ in open letter as National Theatre demolished
Image: National Theatre in Tirana via Facebook

21 May 2020

Dozens of artists, academics, and cultural figures from Albania and beyond have signed an open letter criticising the recent demolition of Tirana’s National Theatre.

Titled “Stop Artwashing Edi Rama’s politics,” the letter criticises Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama’s “systematic underfunding” for the arts. “In stark contrast with Edi Rama’s own artistic career, cultural life in Albania has become increasingly precarious,” the letter says.

Indeed, Rama has enjoyed international press coverage for his art-making, with his artworks exhibited in international art fairs and galleries.

The letter pays special attention to the demolition of Albania’s National Theatre in Tirana, which took place on 17 May, two days before the Coronavirus lockdown restrictions were lifted in the Balkan country. Built in 1939, the building will now be replaced by new high rise developments.

“The theatre’s demolition came after two years of resistance by actors, writers, artists, and activists, and only weeks after [...] the European Commission called for dialogue about its preservation,” the letter adds.

The letter also called on the international art community to show solidarity towards “the citizens, activists, and artists of Albania” and to reflect on the “ethical and artistic implications of exhibiting [Rama’s] work and, by extension, his politics.”

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