New Rīga Theater to strike due to delays in building repairs

The artistic director of the New Riga Theater (JRT), Alvis Hermanis, announced on social networks that the theater, in protest against delays in the completion of construction of the theater building on Lāčplēša Street, will stop staging new plays, Latvian Television reported on January 18.

The artistic director of JRT, Hermanis, said that the theater, due to the delayed construction works, will strike by stopping the staging of new shows and at the temporary home of the theatre – the Miera Street Tobacco Factory.

“If this is an open-ended project for the country, then JRT goes on an open-ended strike,” Hermanis writes, pointing out that the final premiere of the New Rīga Theatre will be on February 28, after which the theatre will “continue to play its repertoire performances, sell tickets and work every evening, but there will be no new settings at the Tobacco Factory. The next premiere will take place only and exclusively on Lāčplēša Street. And not before.”

In the evening, the commissioning party State Real Estate (VNĪ) and the builder SBSC sat at the negotiating table. They agree that the theater should be put into service by the beginning of the new season. The contract with the builder will not be broken.

"The situation is not as dramatic as Hermanis has said. It's not about breaking the contract. We're trying to find ways to complete construction. We're not talking about March, but we're doing everything to finish in August," said Jeļena Gavrilova, board member of VNĪ.

The builder said that without an advance of two million euros, it cannot be done. This will allow for paying for deliveries and hiring additional workers. However, VNĪ has indicated that the payment of the advance is possible only if the builder submits the necessary evidence to justify the costs so that such aid does not create more favorable conditions for one builder than other bidders and does not distort competition in the sector.

“If SBSC submits such documents as well as the bank guarantee, then we will re-direct the issue of advance to the Central Financial and Contract Agency accordingly,” Gavrilova said.

Juris Pētersons, board member of Skonto Construction, said:

"We're not asking for extra money! We're just asking for an advance. Additional advance from the contract amount. These are inner works, because the house is already standing. Full of engineers' networks. The house is warm. All of this has dramatically changed the attitudes of suppliers in Covid and war. We are forced to pay hundred-percent advances everywhere. When we calculated it in 2019, we couldn't frame it."

If the Central Finance and Contract Agency supports the request, the building will be put into service at the end of August or early September. The theater could move in parallel with the inner works.

“We could give some rooms in parallel more quickly, to bring in the decoration. It's just a matter of cooperation,” Peterson said.

VNĪ spokeswoman Gavrilova added that regardless of the availability of the additional amount of advance, the builder has entered into a commitment with the contract to a certain amount that will have to be fulfilled in any case.

The deadline for completion provided for in the contract was March 11 of this year. For each day of the delay, a fine of EUR 30 thousand per day will be calculated.

The whole project costs €34 million, and this is not the first time the deadline for putting JRT into service is postponed.

The JRT renovation and construction project aims to create a modern European-level theater. Construction design started in 2018 and construction began in 2020.

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