Copenhagen theatre Republique has been saved from the final curtain. The proposal to close the theatre and open a new one at Republique’s current base, Kanonhallen in Østerbro, to provide a home for new independent performance groups, has been rejected.
The main criticism was that the number of the theatre’s own productions would have fallen from eight a year to three if the proposal was adopted. Republique’s chief executive/international director, Hans Christian Gimbel, had warned last month in Politiken that “there would have been no room for collaboration with international partners and presenting international performances on stage”.
Culture minister Uffe Elbæk (Radikale) told the newspaper that the proposal submitted by the state-owned Københavns Teater, which is responsible for Republique, didn’t meet the minister’s requirements. “Therefore, we ask the theatre to come up with a new proposal,” Elbæk said. “We want an open stage with its own identity. Secondly, the management structure must be much more transparent.” Elbæk added that he wants Republique to continue with “what they are doing really well” – namely, bringing international contemporary theatre to the city.
In last Thursday’s parliamentary debate on Københavns Teater’s proposal to close Republique and open a new theatre, several politicians questioned whether Københavns Teater is the right organisation to oversee the running of the city’s five major theatres: Betty Nansen, Folketeatret, Nørrebro Teater, Republique and Østre Gasværk.
Copenhagen’s deputy mayor for culture, Pia Allerslev (Venstre), said the councils should be able to run the five theatres “better and cheaper”. Fellow party member Michael Aastrup Jensen added that in his six years as culture spokesman, he hasn’t met anyone impressed by Københavns Teater’s organisational structure. “It seems more like a forced marriage than a marriage of convenience,” Jensen told Politiken.
Elbæk remembered the debate a little differently. “I can certainly understand some of the points made during the debate; nevertheless, before Københavns Teater existed, there were major financial problems at each of the theatres,” she told the newspaper. “As recently as last summer, all of the theatre heads said that they still wanted Københavns Teater in charge.” However, she conceded that a better model is needed in the future.
“There are common challenges for the theatres in Copenhagen: the financial control and mutual co-ordination. I don’t want to suggest how we should do this now, so for the time being Københavns Teater continues to exist today. And also tomorrow.”