Wednesday, June 01, 2011

Culture in Depression

If the economic shambles in Greece is wreaking havoc in people's personal lives (see recent article on Greek homelessness), imagine what it's doing to culture. The National Archaeological Museum frequented by every tourist is practically shut with only 6 out of the 64 spaces open to the public. The government can simply not pay its museum guards. See relevant article in yesterday's Kathimerini here. The visitors are up in arms aggressively confronting the remaining staff. " F... Greece! F... you Greeks!" yelled a Canadian tourist after paying a full ticket, see coverage here. In good nation-state fashion, culture in Greece is nationalized. If a bankrupt state cannot sustain its hundreds of archaeological sites it must seek alternatives. Small steps seem to be taken in reconsidering the interface between public and private domains. Stauros Benos (PASOK parliamentarian) is spearheading project DIAZOMA, seeking new functions and funds for ancient theaters. "Ancient theatres are the focus of our interest and our aim is to enhance them, to find funding and, wherever feasible, to include these monuments in our daily life." See official website here. The ancient theater of Delos is first inline for this rethinking of public functions, see here. Only a few years ago, the central council of archaeological monuments forbid Calvin Klein from using an ancient theater for a photo shoot. To mix commerce with the nation would have been too dangerous. That mentality is clearly being amended by economic pressures. Unfortunately, I'm not sure that Calvin Klein would want to do business with an ancient theater this summer if he can't even properly visit the archaeological museum.

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Kostis Kourelis

Philadelphia, PA, United States