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In Austria, Shaky Financing Leads to Downfall of Theater Fortress

Matthais Hartmann Burg
Matthias Hartmann, director of the Burg theatre, was fired in March this year.
  • Why it matters

    Why it matters

    One of Austria’s most prestigious theaters is plagued by financial problems due to a lack of oversight.

  • Facts


    • The Burg Theater in Vienna is the second-oldest theater of the spoken word in Europe.
    • Its Artistic Director, Michael Hartmann, was fired after it became apparent that the Burg had debts of over €8 million.
    • The debate rages on in theater circles in Germany and Austria as to how this financial shortfall came about and why nobody did anything about it.
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A financial scandal at Europe’s biggest theater continues to rock the institution to its foundations.

On March 11, 2014, the German artistic director of the Vienna Burg (“fortress”) theater, Matthias Hartmann, was fired without notice, an event previously unheard of at the Austrian institution.

The Burg is one of the biggest and wealthiest theaters in the whole world and also plays a big role in the way Austria markets itself to the world.

But the theater is burdened with enormous debts. And worse: a closer look at the Burg’s finances shows that even internal and external audits failed to identify the disaster taking shape behind the scenes.

Mr. Hartmann said he could not have known the extent to which the Burg’s finances were being mismanaged. But he had been running the theater for five years. How could he not have known what was going on, and shouldn’t he take responsibility for the scandal?


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