Valletta’s Teatru Rjal may get a ‘convertible roof’

The Labour Party in government will launch consultations into the possibility of installing a retractable roof over Renzo Piano’s open-air theatre

Pjazza Teatru Rjal
Pjazza Teatru Rjal

The Labour Party in government would launch consultations and evaluate the potential of installing a retractable roof over Renzo Piano’s open-air theatre in Valletta.

Whilst keeping in mind the aesthetic features of the ruins of the former Royal Opera House, a Labour government would look into how the installation of a retractable roof – if even possible – can be done.

The open-air theatre has been the subject of much controversy, with many questioning the use of a roofless theatre. Its current design limits the use by artists whilst to increased noise complaints by residents – who according to Prime Minister Joseph Muscat also want to file a class action lawsuit.

“We have no doubt that this is a controversial proposal and we know it’s a delicate matter. We wanted to include it in the electoral manifesto because the site is underutilized and because the numerous complaints I receive from residents will put the site out of action,” Prime Minister and Labour leader Joseph Muscat said.

Flanked by Culture Minister Owen Bonnici and Tourism Minister Edward Zammit Lewis, Muscat said the theatre was designed roofless because there had been “no budget”.

The challenges facing the proposal will not only be one of aesthetics but also of “complicated engineering” and sound proofing. The Labour government, Bonnici added, would look into the possibility of utilizing the underground vaults.

According to the minister, the proposal to install a retractable roof originated from the artists themselves.

“We will consult with everyone… we will treat the matter as delicately as possible,” the minister pledged.

For the culture sector, the PL is also pledging to:

  • Double the government’s expenditure
  • Further encourage the protection and restoration of cultural heritage
  • Identify a site for a Concerts’ Hall – serving as a base for national orchestra
  • Develop programme where every year, a city or a village is chosen as the country’s ‘national capital of culture of the year’ – similar to the V18 concept but on a national level
  • Extend preferential rate tax rate of 7.5% for sportsmen to cultural field
  • Launch an income averaging system for taxation purposes which will allow fulltime artists to spread their income over three years

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