The content of this year’s Athens and Epidaurus Festival turned into a hot political issue on Friday as Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras and opposition leaders expressed their views, while Greek artists called for Culture Minister Aristides Baltas to resign.
New Democracy and To Potami expressed disagreement with Baltas’s decision to appoint Jan Fabre as the annual festival’s cultural director. The Belgian multidisciplinary artist indicated that the content of this year’s edition would focus on art and performances from Belgium, prompting the outrage of Greek artists.
“Even at this late stage, I ask Mr Tsipras to revoke this unprecedented and inappropriate decision,” said New Democracy leader Kyriakos Mitsotakis of Fabre’s appointment. “The Greek Festival has to continue to promote Greek culture internationally.”
Potami lamented the government’s decision to replace Fabre’s predecessor, Giorgos Loukos. “We are now doubly saddened at the discrediting of our most important [cultural] festival,” added the centrist party in reference to Fabre’s decision to shut out Greek artists until next year.
Reacting to the growing furor over the absence of locals from the festival lineup, Tsipras tweeted on Thursday night that he had asked Fabre to ensure there would be a Greek presence at the festival.
Nevertheless, Greek actors, directors, dancers and other artists gathered at a theater in Athens on Friday to discuss what action to take to make their disappointment known. They decided to demand Baltas’s resignation and to hold a protest outside the Culture Ministry at noon on Monday.