Public funds used to bail out Athens Concert Hall

Finance Minister Giorgos Papaconstantinou confirmed on Wednesday that the government is paying the loan taken out by the cash-strapped Athens Concert Hall, one of the capital?s main privately owned cultural centers.

Papaconstantinou said the concert hall took out a 95-million-euro loan in 2007 to cover its operational costs and that the center will be forced to close down if it cannot meet the installments. He said the state acted as a guarantor for the loan and has little choice but to pay since the Athens Concert Hall cannot keep up the repayments.

?Whatever happens, the state will have to pay this money, so we have to decide if we want the Athens Concert Hall to remain open or not,? he told MPs. Sources said the loan is due to be paid off in 2020, adding that state funding for the center is being cut this year from 12 to 6 million euros.

The concert hall is administered by a board of trustees of non-profit-making associations but it is sponsored by the Lambrakis Research Foundation, set up by the late publisher of To Vima and Ta Nea newspapers, and head of Greece?s largest media group, DOL, Christos Lambrakis.

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