Maria Katsounaki MARIA KATSOUNAKI

Wrong connections

COMMENT

TAGS: Politics, Culture

The case of Giorgos Loukos is not the first of its type. The artistic director of the Greek Festival belongs to a growing category of gifted, capable people who have proved their worth through their accomplishments and who are being removed from their positions without good reason.

Whether based on technicalities or just weak, the “reasons” simply reinforce the certainty that these individuals are being deposed in order to be replaced by the government’s own people.

Similarly to the general manager of the Athens Urban Transport Organization, the head of Greek Police’s Internal Affairs Department and state hospital directors, the artistic director of the Greek Festival is being driven to the exit. In a rather direct and not particularly elegant manner, the Greek Ministry of Culture is dictating his resignation. Rumor has it that Culture Minister Aristides Baltas has come under considerable pressure in order to relieve Loukos of his duties.

Influential artists within ruling SYRIZA’s parliamentary group as well as circles close to Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras are expressing their strong dislike of Loukos. They must have their reasons. Just like the most active and dynamic portion of the local artistic community, along with foreign artists and the thousands of the festival’s steady visitors over the last decade, have their own reasons for voicing their support for the Greek Festival director.

In the end it doesn’t really matter that he took an almost forgotten institution and gave it shape, substance and an international cultural identity. What matters is that, as a Greek of the diaspora, he doesn’t really have the right connections. Living and operating outside the reality of the country, he never understood the meaning of high-ranking officials calling and asking for such-and-such an artist to perform at the Herod Atticus Theater, citing incredible arguments (this was the case when conservative New Democracy was in power). Back then he was stunned, he refused and moved on until hitting against a powerful propaganda mechanism, of the Soviet, cleanup type. Now he has just gotten really tired of it all.

So be it. Let him stay on as the artistic director of the Lyon Opera Ballet, a position he has held for decades. Meanwhile, back in Greece, given that international competitions are time-consuming and not that indispensable anyway as the country has its own evaluation scale, an in-house contest will be declared among the contenders who are closest to the governing party. In the end, the one with the strongest party support will get the job. And that will take care of that.

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