Culture and Sports Minister Limor Livnat
has recused herself from making decisions regarding theaters' funding, Ynet has learned.
Livnat, citing conflict of interest, brought the motion before the cabinet herself. It was passed unanimously.
Livnat did not elaborate on the nature of the conflict of interest, but was probably referring to her personal relationship with Mickey Yerushalmi, chairman of The Orna Porat Theater for Children and Youth whose budget is determined by the Culture ministry.
In the past year allegations have been made that The Orna Porat theatre was over-budgeted compared to other theaters. "Of course people are afraid to speak their minds freely," said sources from the theatre world. So after three years in office Livnat decided to relinquish her power to decide on theatre budgets.
Speaking at the Knesset Livnat said: "The Attorney General and the legal advisor to the Culture Ministry said I didn't have to do this but I wanted to avoid even a semblance of a conflict of interest."
"It's a smart decision, I've got nothing to add" said Uri Levi, head of the theatre department at the Council for Culture which acts as an advisory board to the minister.
Council members said this is just a formal decision which won't affect their day to day work. "The criteria which determine the allocation of theatre budgets are approved by the theatre department and the council, then brought to the public and only then the minister in charge seals the deal. That won't change. This latest decision is just a technicality for caution's sake"
The forum of cultural institute managers said: "We commend the decision, the minister has a conflict of interest regarding the allocation of theatre budgets and the matter should be put in someone else's hands."
The Knesset's Education, Culture and Sports Committee is set to discuss the culture budget including the matter of transferring the decisions regarding theatre budgets to the Justice Ministry.
Minister Livnat was invited to the hearing to elaborate on the distribution of the culture budget.
The hearing will include people from the culture ministry and representatives from the forum of cultural institute managers.