Ral­ly­ing cul­tural forces to re­vive down­town Athens

Kathimerini English - - Life - BY DIM­ITRIS RIGOPOU­LOS

Abroad coali­tion to save the cen­ter of Athens is in the pipe­line, fol­low­ing a re­cent cabi­net meet­ing fo­cus­ing on the city cen­ter’s wors­en­ing sit­u­a­tion. The Greek Min­istry of Cul­ture and Tourism has taken on a lead­ing role in this pro­gram, which is be­ing su­per­vised by Deputy Prime Min­is­ter Theodoros Pan­ga­los.

The cor­ner­stone of the min­istry’s ac­tion is to rally large and small cul­tural in­sti­tu­tions sit­u­ated down­town. These are longestab­lished cul­tural or­ga­ni­za­tions, some of which are based in what could be de­scribed as the “twi­light zone,” such as the Na­tional Ar­chae­o­log­i­cal Mu­seum on Patis­sion, the Epi­graph­i­cal Mu­seum on Tositsa and the Greek Na­tional The­ater on Aghiou Con­stanti­nou, to name but a few.

The aim is to achieve some kind of co-or­di­na­tion be­tween such or­ga­ni­za­tions (rang­ing from the Greek Na­tional Opera to the Greek Film Cen­ter) so that their sched­uled (or even bet­ter, un­sched­uled) events are taken out of their for­mal set­ting and into the streets and squares of the down­town area: Think of a small-scale out­door film fes­ti­val at Aghios Pan­telei­monas Square, a so­prano giv­ing a recital in Omo­nia or the Athens State Orches­tra’s string quar­tet tak­ing up po­si­tion on Dikaiosi­nis Square, op­po­site the Rex The­ater.

The idea is headed in the right direc­tion, as the pre­vail­ing sense is that the clo­sure of hun­dreds of shops in the down­town area has cast a shroud of deso­la­tion that fur­ther ex­ac­er­bates other un­der­ly­ing prob­lems. As a re­sult, in a large part of cen­tral Athens reg­u­lar foot traf­fic is far out­num­bered by peo­ple con­duct­ing il­le­gal ac­tiv­i­ties.

Some im­prove­ment has been seen since the an­nounce­ment of a gov­ern­ment crack­down and an in­crease in the num­ber of po­lice pa­trols a few days ago, but there is still a long way to go. Nat­u­rally, un­til the safety of the pub­lic can be en­sured, the cul­tural events be­ing planned will have to wait, es­pe­cially if they are to take place is some of the more dan­ger­ous parts of the city. Nev­er­the­less, the plan is am­bi­tious and hope­fully, the re­turn of the gen­eral pub­lic to these ar­eas will set in mo­tion a pos­i­tive chain re­ac­tion for the city’s re­vival.

mu­si­cians holds a con­cert on the en­trance steps of Aghios Pan­telei­monas Church in the neigh­bor­hood of the same name, which has been the sub­ject of racial ten­sion.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Greece

© PressReader. All rights reserved.