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Artists ask for approval of $31 million loan to restore National Theater

February 19, 2019

Dozens of artists visited Costa Rica’s Legislative Assembly on Monday afternoon to request that lawmakers approve a $31.3 million loan that the Costa Rican government had negotiated with the Central American Bank for Economic Integration (BCIE) to restore the National Theater.

This loan was negotiated during the previous political administration; however, wavering from several members of the Legislative Assembly has now put the agreement in doubt.

Because it is an international loan, the financing requires the support of at least 38 members of the Legislative Assembly to be approved.

To lobby in their favor, artists went to the Legislative Assembly, where they first welcomed the lawmakers to a chorus of the violins and later held a press conference to present their views.

“If, at the end of the 19th century, Costa Ricans could agree and, in a visionary way, construct a theater of this category, it is discouraging to think that in 2019 we cannot make the decision to take care of it and preserve it,” reads a document they presented.

“Due to the amount of detail that the National Theater has, we understand the complexity of the work and the close interrelationships in each stage of the proposed project. That is why we believe a single intervention is convenient.”

Among the artists present were the actress Rocío Carranza and the actor Gustavo Rojas, who emphasized that the work of restoration and remodeling is necessary to preserve the Theater and improve its safety and security, citing technical studies they say lawmakers have disregarded.

In addition, both stressed that art is not an expense but an investment and recalled that the National Theater — recently declared a national symbol — is considered by many as the home of Costa Rican art.

“National artists have the right to have the National Theater to continue working on it, and the public has the right to see art in that infrastructure,” Carranza said.

Rojas compared the investment in the Theater with that which has been made for a new building for the Legislative Assembly.

“There are people here who say that the project is very expensive, but you have to see how much Costa Rican democracy is investing in the new Assembly building. Making the comparison, the Assembly is the house of democracy, but the National Theater is the house of culture,” he said.

In total, the loan for the Theater includes an investment of $31.3 million, and plans comprise six major redesign, construction and remodeling projects.

The loan proposes investments of $1.3 million for a fire protection system, $4 million for the installation of a new electrical system, $1.7 million for restoration works, $10.3 million for the technological adaptations, $8.2 million for the construction of a new office building and $1.7 million for the interconnection of the buildings.

In addition, as is customary, $4 million is added for the audit, administration and possible contingencies in the development of the project.

This story first appeared in Semanario Universidad. It was translated and republished with permission. Read the original version here

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