Actors protested against salary cuts, layoffs. President Iohannis expresses solidarity

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About 250 artists protested in Victorie Square in front of the Government building in Bucharest on Sunday evening, discontent with the salary cuts and the layoffs announced across several theatres and cultural institutions.

While the manager of the Bucharest National Theatre (TNB), Ion Caramitru said the financial problems in this sector are a reality and that he had asked for an audience with the Prime Minister, President Iohannis announced solidarity with the actors and their demands, arguing the disasters has been caused “by this incompetent government”.

Among protesters, there was also 86-year-old renowned actor Victor Rebengiuc. “I am not upset that some people are sacked, there are probably some who are squatting at job sites, but the ones who have been laid off now are managing the lights, the video and audio, there are necessary things for a 21st century theatre play. You are not doing a play in the 14th century, when actors performed with five curtains and five candles in the theatre hall. We are in another century. How can be all solved? We need smart people to come to rule, for two thugs have done the ruling programme, made on a ponzi-scheme system and here we are, the bankruptcy is already here and they brought some fools to enforce this programme. I don’t have hopes for me anymore, for I might die today, tomorrow, I have 86 years old. I am not fighting for my future anymore. I am yet thinking at my grandson, for instance, who will be forced to pay the debts that the rulers are making now,” Rebengiuc said.

Actors are totally upset about the budget cuts.

“Funds have been cut for the culture institutions, theatres, opera houses, national museums and the first affected have been our colleagues, technicians, who are very necessary in the theatre process. It’s like you, reporters, would take me an interview and you don’t have cameramen to film it, so the message cannot be sent,” said in his turn actor Mihai Calin.

Manager of the TNB, Ion Caramitru, has announced he had asked for an audience with the prime minister to talk these issues.

My hope is that we’ll be still <worthy> to be received by the prime minister, I asked her for an audience on behalf of all culture institutions going through this situation. I am convinced if she is listening to us carefully she will understand. I know from my own experience, I have been Culture minister for four years, a full term. Of course, I resigned twice on budget issues. And I call them successful resignations, for, four days after I resigned, the money came, so the idea that there was money, right? I am sure there is enough money and the problem will be solved”, Caramitru argued.

On the other side, Culture minister Daniel Breaz had previously announced before the protest that he would order a check at TNB, to see how the funds are spent, arguing the institution has a RON 57 million budget this year, and the actors’ salaries have been almost tripled.

President Iohannis endorses actors

President Iohannis has sent a message on Sunday, saying he is endorsing the protesting artists due to the drastic cuts across cultural institutions, stating the disaster has been caused by “this government of incompetence, through the budget of shame, built on false figures”.

“Instead of enjoying this invaluable resource, we are called to defend the Romanian culture from bankruptcy”, the head of state posted on Facebook.

Culture is at the bottom now, like many other Romanians’ major goals. Artists and cultural institutions need our solidarity. They serve and represent our cultural inheritance,” the President concluded.

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