The Committee for Immigration, Absorption and Diaspora Affairs held a special meeting on Tuesday to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the Gesher Theater, which was founded in 1991, during the first Gulf War, by a group of Russian-Israeli actors. But during the meeting it was revealed that the theater may close due to a budget deficit.
”We hear compliments every day, but meanwhile we are starving,” said Yevgeny Arye, Gesher`s founder and artistic director.
”We are not in a severe situation. We are dying,” he told the committee members. ”We live in a certain cultural situation where it is very difficult to do the theater that we do. Those who buy the plays for other cities (buyers) leave the plays with tears in their eyes and say, `well done, but it`s suited for our audience.` And so, the audience grows accustomed to a certain level of cheap art that does not require minimal intellectual effort. We have an audience that comes to the plays and appreciates them, and there are people who see the same play a few times, but it`s not enough.”
MK Tali Ploskov (Kulanu) said ”the current system for allocating budgets is not good. The money does not reach the bodies the legislator wanted it to reach. Gesher is an example of successful absorption, and this is why the Ministry of Aliyah and Immigrant Absorption must strengthen it.”
Attorney Eli Zohar, chairman of the Gesher Theater, said that at times the theater is unable to pay monthly salaries to its staff, while noting that the State`s support amounts to only 27 percent of the theater`s budget. ”In all my years in the cultural field, I`ve never had to do as much lobbying work as I`ve done at Gesher,” he said.
Gesher`s General Director Lena Kreindlin listed the theater`s achievements and said its current accumulated deficit is NIS 5.5 million. ”We are in a constant crisis,” she told the committee.
Committee Chairman MK Avraham Neguise (Likud) said the committee would summon Immigration and Absorption Minister Sofa Landver (Yisrael Beitenu) and Minister of Culture and Sport Miri Regev (Likud). ”Together we will find a way to transfer government funds to Gesher,” he said.