Athens, 4 June 2010
Today, at 11:30am, Culture and Tourism Minister Pavlos Geroulanos had an extended work session with the Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Greek National Opera, Mr. Nikos Mourkogiannis.
Mr. Geroulanos warmly congratulated Mr. Mourkogiannis and the entire GNO staff on the significant steps towards restructuring which were made during the past 65 days, i.e. since the day the new Board of Directors assumed its duties.
The measures, which were swiftly taken, constitute the first phase of the restructuring program and have resulted in, among other things, reducing the operating costs of the GNO by 37.5%, i.e. 12 million euros. This is a considerable amount, given that the GNO’s fixed cost expenditure up until April 1st, 2010 was around 25 million euros per annum, while financing from the Culture and Tourism Ministry has been de facto limited to 17.1 million euros per annum.
In the light of this achievement and the implementation of further measures, such as the crystallization of a viable Artistic Vision and the effort to turn the GNO into a model organization, the Culture and Tourism Minister decided to postpone taking a decision concerning the future of the Greek National Opera until August. The Minister’s decision as to whether or not the existing organization will continue to operate depends in large part on the results of the second phase of the GNO’s restructuring, i.e. the decisions of the Board of Directors that have already been taken, and especially the ones that concern:
1. The reduction of operating costs and the renegotiation and settlement of the GNO’s owed debts which, otherwise, will have to be managed with a special bankruptcy law, with adverse repercussions for all concerned.
2. Taking complete control of the contracts of employment and other actions that have caused the GNO’s financial problems, and ascribing responsibility to the full extent of the law.
3. The introduction of a system of continuous evaluation of the GNO’s entire staff with a view to further improving the quality of its performances and increasing the professionalism of its employees.
4. The development of a Flow Chart and the enactment of the GNO’s Statutes and Regulations according to international standards, with an aim to render the Greek National Opera capable of undertaking the project of moving to the Faliron Delta in 2015.
5. The possibility of amending the GNO’s Collective Business Contract of Employment to the benefit of the organization.
For his part, the Chairman of the GNO’s Board of Directors, Mr. Mourkogiannis, informed the Minister of the following:
1. Despite the drastic cuts in expenses which have been implemented over the past month and a half, the GNO is unable to cover its salary expense beyond September 1, 2010, due to the expenses of the previous period. Therefore, in order to continue operating, the National Opera must receive 6 million euros in financing within the month of August.
2. The renegotiation of the GNO’s 15 million euro debt is not possible now, nor will it be in the future, without the Government’s assistance.
3. A strategic issue faced by the Greek National Opera is the payment of large rents. Unlike its sister organizations, the Athens Concert Hall, the National Theater, et al., the GNO lacks the use of a self-owned building and will continue to do so until it moves to its new venue. Providing the National Opera with a self-owned building could put an end to all its financial problems.
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