Published March 20, 2013
The European Free Trade Association’s Surveillance Authority (ESA) has launched an investigation into state financing of the Harpa Concert Hall and Convention Centre. According to an announcement on the ESA’s website the Authority began looking into the State’s funding of Harpa since 2011 after receiving a complaint from an unnamed “interested party.”
The question about the suitability of the Icelandic government funding Harpa revolves around the clear financial separation at the concert hall between running cultural happenings and commercial events, like conferences.
“Aid to promote culture is welcome under the EEA Agreement. Iceland must, however, make sure that such aid is not in fact subsidizing commercial activities, such as the hosting of conferences,” said Oda Helen Sletnes, president of the EFTA Surveillance Authority, in the ESA’s statement on the investigation.
The initial research the ESA has conducted since the original complaint was lodged in 2011 raised enough questions about the possible funding of commercial activities at Harpa with State money to warrant launching the official investigation.
Harpa is jointly owned by the Icelandic State and the City of Reykjavík.