'No summer in Sicily' as tourism budget runs out

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The international arts festival in Taormina has had its budget cut by 90 percent in two years.Taormina photo: Shutterstock
12:31 CEST+02:00
Around 930 events risk being cancelled in Sicily due to budget cuts, prompting the island’s tourism councillor to say the summer "doesn't exist" in the holiday hotspot.

Of the €2.2 million needed to finance the cultural, sporting and tourism events in Sicily, there is little over €200,000 in the bank, La Repubblica reported on Monday.

“At the moment the funds available amounts to about €212,000,” Michela Stancheris, regional councillor for tourism, was quoted as saying. That sum has, however, already been earmarked to cover promotional costs.

“We don’t even have a euro in the cash register, the summer of 2014 in Sicily doesn’t exist,” Stancheris said.

Among the events at risk of being cancelled is Taormina Arte, a cultural festival in eastern Sicily which has been running for more than 30 years.

Ninni Panzera, the festival’s general secretary, said the budget has been cut by 90 percent in just two years.

“The budget has gone from €2.86 million in 2012 to €1.56 million in 2013, to €207,000 today.

“It’s too little for an international festival that each year sees the participation of thousands of people from across the world,” he was quoted in La Repubblica as saying.

In central Sicily, the Orestiadi di Gibellina arts festival is also said to be under threat.

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According to director Claudio Collovà, the budget allocation for this year’s festival is just ten percent of last year’s €446,000.

“For the past 12 months ten members of staff and external collaborators haven’t been paid. There’s no money for toilet paper and running the office,” Collovà was quoted as saying.

Beyond the cultural scene a number of sporting events, including an international volleyball tournament, risk being cancelled if the necessary funds are not found, La Repubblica said.

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