La Scala theater general manager Alexander Pereira, right, and La Scala conductor Riccardo Chailly attend a press conference, in Milan, Italy, Monday, March 11, 2019. Italy's premier opera house, La Scala in Milan, is under fire over a proposal to grant a board seat to Saudi Arabia's culture minister with the promise of 15 million euros ($16.8 million) in new funding. (AP Photo/Antonio Calanni)

La Scala board to decide on controversial Saudi funding

March 18, 2019 - 7:23 am

MILAN (AP) — The directors of Italy's premier opera house, Teatro alla Scala in Milan, are meeting to decide whether to accept controversial funding from Saudi Arabia.

The meeting Monday came amid media reports last weekend that at least some of the 15 million euros ($17 million) had been deposited into an escrow account pending approval of the funding.

The deal, which would include giving a seat on the La Scala board to Saudi Arabia's culture minister, has been hotly contested due to Saudi Arabia's human rights record. The kingdom is under increased scrutiny internationally since the killing of a Saudi journalist inside its consulate in Istanbul last October.

The governor of Lombardy has called for the dismissal of the opera house's general manager, while a few workers have turned out in his defense.

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