What representatives of theaters who have received a grant from this project say
There are positive points in the current form of the THIMELI Plan, but there is also significant scope for improvement, representatives of theater groups that have received a grant from the plan in question say in their statements to KYPE.
Paris Erotokritou points out the need to find indirect ways of strengthening culture and talks about steps that have been taken for the first time, while Marios Mettis emphasizes that the plan needs significant restructuring. For her part, Naya Anastasiadou states that the sponsorship fund should be increased, while Giannos Louras welcomes the effort being made to improve the situation.
P. Erotokritos: “Section” the THIMELI Plan
The director and artistic director of the company Fresh Target Theater Ensemble, Paris Erotokritou, states to KYPE that he welcomes the intersection made with the THIMELI Project, stressing that “it is the first time that someone dares to take this step”. At the same time, he clarifies that there are points that need improvement based on what is happening in the theatrical environment of Cyprus, adding that “we also have to see what is happening outside”. He also notes that the THIMELI Project started some years ago and every year it improves and changes. Referring to the theater community, he indicates that “the point is to express ourselves in a consensual way and not with blackmail and threats”, expressing his regret and annoyance at “the blackmail and threats that are heard”.
Next, Mr. Erotokritou mentions that for the first time in his twenty-year career in the theater he came first in the ranking of applications for the THIMELI Project. “We received an amount which on paper may not be enough based on our budget, but we do not expect the state to support us 100%. In any case, the THIMELI Plan does not provide for such a thing”, he explains to KYPE. “The previous times when we applied to THIMELI and had a grant problem, we implemented all our productions and found ways to implement them”, he adds.
Subsequently, Mr. Erotokritou indicates that the Deputy Ministry of Culture and theater organizations should perhaps find other, indirect ways of supporting culture, not only theater, that do not involve financial support. Indicatively, he mentions the ideas for a business tax exemption plan and for the abolition of the entertainment tax, stressing that the recently established Youth Card is a very good step in the right direction.
“The THIMELI Plan is part of the policy for the theatre, is not the whole of politics for the theatre. Consultation is needed to solve problems, but we should not lose the forest for the trees”, he concludes.
M. Mettis: THYMELI was formed based on a case of things
Asked by the KYPE to take a position on the current form of the THIMELI Plan, the actor and director Marios Mettis states that “there are some promising points but even so the plan needs significant restructuring”. As an example he cites the decision on three-month contracts, which he says “is outside the local theatrical reality”, adding that there are other points that need to be reshaped.
“Perhaps the Deputy Ministry has some other models in mind, but they cannot be applied here. When you formulate a plan, you have to know well how things work where you plan to implement them and not make decisions based on an imaginary ideal situation”, indicates Mr. Mettis, expressing the feeling that the Plan was formulated based on an assumption of things and not based on a deep knowledge of reality.
Asked about the improvements that could be made to the THIMELI Plan for the benefit of the theater community, Mr. Mettis expresses his belief that the increase in the fund will not save anyone, adding that “it might patch things up for the time being but the problem it will come back”.
Next, he notes that for the THIMELI 2024 Project, a total of 36 applications were submitted from 19 theater organizations and 31 applications were selected from 18 organizations, which is, as he says, “terribly problematic.” He emphasizes that the Deputy Ministry of Culture “must decide whether it will act as a charitable institution, which will distribute the pie to as many as it can in order to ensure the survival of the actors, or whether it will take care of the essential theatrical development of Cyprus”. “Unfortunately, he can't have both”, he finally states.
N. Anastasiadou: Let's work together on the issues that exist
For her part, Naya Anastasiadou, actress, director and director of the Anyhow Theater Ensemble company, points out that important changes must be made to the THIMELI Plan, adding that “the seed of better communication with the Deputy Ministry of Culture regarding what should be change”. Furthermore, he states to the KYPE that there is a willingness from both the Collective and the Deputy Ministry of Culture for communication on theater issues, while there have also been some meetings. Ms. Anastasiadou emphasizes that the fund should be increased and ways to promote theater production and research should be considered, given that many theater groups are now experimenting and proposing things. “Some steps are being taken with the THIMELI Plan, there is a discussion, something is “boiling”, he says characteristically.
However, as she tells KYPE, she herself, as director of Anyhow Theater Ensemble, cannot practically implement her proposal, which includes 4 actors and several contributors and has been approved, due to the amount of the approved fund (€15,000). “With this fund it is impossible to pay the salaries of the actors and the rest of the contributors,” she underlines, noting that the budget of her proposal amounts to approximately €35,000. “We have not yet found a way to cover this amount,” he adds. “We cannot rely on the number of audiences and tickets and the mood of the spectators. Now there are several productions and it is impossible to see them all”, he says.
At the same time, Mrs. Anastasiadou points out that many theaters with roofs and operating expenses are in a very difficult situation. “Even though I don't have a home, I have the expenses of the company I founded,” he explains. Nevertheless, as he says, there is a communication between the Cypriot theater community, that is, between the Federation of Theater Organizations of Cyprus and the Collective. “Our communication has not yet reached its best point, but I believe that there is no other solution than to work together on the issues at hand, so that those who make the decisions at the Deputy Ministry of Culture have a better understanding of the needs of a theatrical production , in order for it to be implemented”, he concludes.
G. Louras: It is better to approve fewer sponsorships for more decent performances
Speaking at KYPE about the THIMELI Project, Giannos Louras, on behalf of the Tree Theatre, expresses his satisfaction for the current semester “based on the results”. Asked what could be fixed, he says that the number of spectators at a theater performance can hardly be counted and must be evaluated differently, another safety and control valve must be introduced.
Regarding the budget of the THIMELI Plan, Mr. Louras indicates that the grants should be approved based on the amount requested by the submitted applications and that a lower amount should not be given. “In this way, we are forced to make discounts, which first affect the salaries of the actors and then other parameters of a theatrical production”, he emphasizes, underlining that “it is much better to approve fewer sponsorships, to perform with dignity, the actors to they have bigger contracts”.
“When 37 premieres are uploaded in a month, how is the viewership pie divided?” he wonders, adding that theater is the only branch of the economy that receives so many sponsorships. “We cannot rely only on sponsorships. The Federation and we must act in order to be self-sufficient”, says Mr. Louras to KYPE. “We are all in the same camp. Division and discord would be disastrous. If we all come under a healthier operating regime and grant process, we will all be more sustainable,” he adds.
Answering a question from KYPE, Mr. Louras mentions that the Tree Theater received three grants for three performances from the THIMELI Project. In one performance, as he says, names such as Annita Santoriniou, Stavros Louras and Christina Pavlidou star, pointing out that the amount of the sponsorship is not enough to make the performance with due dignity. “We would prefer to get sponsorship for 2 projects that we would upload properly,” he emphasizes.
At the same time, he clarifies that there will always be gaps in any plan and that there is no such thing as a perfect plan. However, he states that he overstates the effort being made to improve the situation. As he explains, the meetings with the Deputy Ministry contributed to a better Plan, without this meaning that there is no room for improvement. “We feel that we are heard, that we are taken into account”, he adds.
Speaking about the provision of the Plan for newly established organizations, Yannos Louras says that if an organization is created by a person who moves in the theater space here and many years, this man is entitled to receive the same treatment as others. As far as the issue of contracts is concerned, he says that Theatro Dentro is claiming three-month contracts, which will create the conditions for better productions. “The issue is that the sponsorships should reach such a level as to cover the three-month contracts”, he concludes.