Director of Albanian Opera resigns amid budget row

Director of Albanian Opera resigns amid budget row
Performance of ballet Monger by Barak Marshall at Albania's National Theatre of Opera and Ballet (Image: H.Petrela/ National Theatre of Opera and Ballet/ Facebook)

2 August 2016

The director of Albania's National Theatre of Opera and Ballet, acclaimed former ballet dancer Ilir Kerni, has resigned from his post, having voiced frustration over funding issues.

The Balkan Investigative Reporting Network (BIRN) reported that Mr Kerni had aired his grievances in June on Facebook, expressing anger over the lack of funds for the institution that he was heading.

“I have used these 28 months to transform everything with hard work and with the lowest budget in history [...] the average budget for a show didn't exceed 600 euros, so we are ready to enter the Guinness Book of Records,” he posted on the social media site, adding his shock that Kosovo has a bigger budget for arts than Albania, despite having a smaller population.

Albania's Ministry of Culture has declined to comment on Mr Kerni's resignation, calling it a “personal act”.

The total budget of the Ministry of Culture for this year stands at just over 9 million euros (a little over $10 million), but only part of this goes to the country's main cultural institutions.

Although the National Theatre of Opera and Ballet receives around 2 million euros ($2.2 million), it employs a large number of performers and also comprises the National Symphonic Orchestra and National Folk Ensemble.

BIRN notes that other major Albanian cultural institutions, such as the National Theatre and National Art Gallery, must also make do with exceptionally tight budgets.

Many in the industry believe that this has a significant knock-on effect on the fortunes of Albanian culture and performers worldwide.

“I believe that the budget is key when it comes to culture. The lack of reforms, the lack of efficiency in our cultural institutions — and our artists' absence from important international events — all come as a result of insufficient budgets,” said Alda Bardhyli, a culture editor at the Shqip newspaper.

Source: Balkan Insight