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Last Updated: Thursday, 3 July, 2003, 11:07 GMT 12:07 UK
Cash boost saves Berlin opera
Deutsche Staatsoper
The Staatsoper needed extra cash to survive
Berlin's three threatened opera houses have been saved by a government cash injection of 25m euros (17m).

The German Government had intended to give Berlin - which is struggling with debts of 46bn euros (32bn) - 300m euros (207m) to spend on culture overall.

But the Staatsoper, the Deutsche Oper and the Komische Oper need about 115m (79m) in aid each year to survive.

Before the extra funds were announced on Wednesday, the Berlin city government had said it needed 33m euros (22.8m) more to spend on culture.

Luciano Pavarotti
Pavarotti performed at the Deutsche Oper at the weekend

It was therefore considering merging the Staatsoper and the Deutsche Oper and trying to keep the Komische Oper as it was.

Culture Minister Christina Weiss said she had fought off opposition from her government colleagues to secure the extra money.

"Despite the really precarious budgetary position that you are all aware of, the federal government had found a way to keep culture in the capital city safe from harm," said the minister.

Ms Weiss said the extra funds would come from central government taking over funding of Berlin's Academy of Arts.

Berlin's troubles

This means the Berlin city government will be able to spend its culture budget on the opera houses.

But in return, Berlin has to set up a new opera foundation to run the houses more as commercial enterprises.

The foundation will also have to look at making 10m euros (7m) in cuts at the opera houses.

Berlin's finances have been in trouble since the unification of Germany in 1990.

Before, both West and East Berlin received lavish subsidies, particularly for cultural institutions.

Since unification, the city has lost much of that support and its debts have escalated.

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