The Malta Independent 15 August 2022, Monday

Public survey results on roofing of Royal Opera House ‘in coming weeks’

Bettina Borg Wednesday, 26 May 2021, 15:56 Last update: about 2 years ago

A public survey into whether Valletta's Royal Opera House should be roofed is expected to yield results in a few weeks' time, Minister for the National Heritage, the Arts and Local Government told The Malta Independent.

Back in 2019, ex-Finance Minister Edward Scicluna announced that a public consultation on the roofing of the opera house would be launched, as part of the 2020 Budget. The exercise appears never to have been publicly launched, but the government has carried on with the idea.

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This newsroom asked Minister José Herrera where the consultation currently stands, to which he replied that a contract on the roofing of the opera house was written up, however it "did not take a survey of the population".

Herrera said he read the report in October or November and, while it proved to be helpful, the fact that it did not consider the public's wishes was unsatisfactory. Another company, he said, was hired to devise a survey that would take the public's needs into account.

"The survey is currently underway and hopefully in a few weeks' time, I will have the results, which I will then proceed to take up before cabinet," he said.

The survey, he said, is considering three different options which reflect the various wishes of the public.

Firstly is the roofing of the theatre, and restoring it to its former aesthetic.

Secondly is the idea of temporary roofing, which will provide shelter in winter and an open sky in summer.

Lastly, there is the option of leaving the opera house as it is now, with its Renzo Piano styled open space. People who favour the last option, however, "would like to see an improvement in acoustics", Herrera noted.

"Hopefully in a couple of weeks we will know where we stand," he added.

This newsroom also asked Herrera about Deputy Prime Minister and Health Minister Chris Fearne'srecent announcement that the vaccine certificates will be used this July for cultural activities.

"As a culture ministry, we're pushing for the certificates, but we still have to use caution," he said. "The fact that we have certificates alone will not suffice to start opening up everything."

He said that Malta's control of the pandemic is encouraging and that the Ministry is holding internal discussions on a weekly basis to assess the situation.

Nevertheless, he said it is vital to keep health in mind when discussing the reopening of cultural events.

"Gradually, but with great prudence and obviously prioritizing health, things are looking good and gradually thing will start opening up," he noted.


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