Curtain Up on Tel Aviv's Rebuilt Habima Theater

Despite financial problems and labor dispute, Israel's national theater to celebrate its grand opening today.

The grand opening of the rebuilt Habima Theater in Tel Aviv is scheduled to take place today, with special guests such as President Shimon Peres, Culture Minister Limor Livnat, Tel Aviv Mayor Ron Huldai, and other dignitaries and Finance Ministry officials slated to attend.

The event comes two months after the theater resumed operations following four and a half years of renovations, which cost more than NIS 100 million.

Sets and the city

In spite of the festive atmosphere, financial problems that have plagued the national theater still have not been resolved. To date, a plan signed in 2011 to rehabilitate the theater's finances has not been implemented. The plan includes a deal to settle a NIS 42 million debt, of which NIS 24 million was owed to the state because of a past loan.

Odelia Friedman, CEO of Habima Theater, said the plan has not been implemented because the loan has not been approved by the bank. This means artists and suppliers are still waiting to be paid.

There is also the problem of a labor dispute with theater employees who are threatening to boycott today's ceremony. They blame the theater for dragging its feet in negotiations with them.

"We will not foil the ceremony," said union leader Eitan Sevilia, "but we will boycott it in protest."