By Olga Sella
Helene Ahrweiler made a poignant comment during a recent press presentation of the European Cultural Center of Delphi’s annual summer program. “The fact that so many of you have gathered here for a cultural event is particularly optimistic,” said the well-known Byzantinologist and president of the executive committee of the European Center of Delphi.
Equally optimistic was the message sent out by the cultural center itself: Based on a low budget (50,000 euros for operational costs), the organizers succeeded in putting together a particularly exciting program for this summer. Events include symposiums, music and theater workshops, seminars, theater performances and a visual arts exhibition, all in all a rich program which brings to Greece prominent foreign artists and scholars who will help promote Delphi to the rest of the world.
The program begins on July 7 with a concert featuring the Brussels-based Danel Quartet performing classical works at the Ancient Theater of Delphi. The ancient theater has not been used as a cultural venue in the last few years, while the upcoming event coincides with the completion of a restoration plan due to be submitted to the National Strategic Reference Framework.
“Quality, austerity, breadth,” is the motto behind this year’s event, which will be officially inaugurated on July 6 with an exhibition of artworks by the late Opi Zouni. The show will feature 26 large-scale works by the acclaimed Greek artist, out of which 21 are going on display for the first time.
At the heart of the Delphi Cultural Center’s summer events lies an international symposium, “Universities in Europe: From Plato’s Academy to the Bologna Charter,” which is scheduled to take place from July 6 to 8. Meanwhile, events in Delphi will begin with a workshop focusing on university education on May 31, followed by a series of music gatherings bringing together 50 young musicians (July 9-15) and a series of ancient Greek culture and language seminars in collaboration with the University of Mexico (July 18-28), among others.
How is it possible that an organization supervised by the Greek Ministry of Culture, operating without an appointed general manager for a whole year and still awaiting funding for its 2012 budget, as well as part of its 2011 budget, has managed to continue its activities and present such a high-standard program?
Perhaps the answer is that the institution’s skeleton staff of five worked in a particularly organized and efficient fashion, managed to put several sponsorships and synergies (OPAP, Athens Concert Hall, Onassis Cultural Center) to good use, succeeded in persuading their international guests to travel to Greece at their own expense, while their principal target all along has been to promote their country and their organization.