CULTURE

Private enterprise helps fund extensive excavations

The Temple of Asclepius, the god of medicine and healing, at the site of Ancient Feneos in the Peloponnesian prefecture of Corinth was first brought to light by excavations conducted in the area during the late 1950s. Over the following years, the local archaeological service?s only task was to keep the site safe and clean. Now, however, with the help of the Austrian Archaeological Institute in Athens, the exploration of this fascinating discovery will continue, with digs being held for four- to six-week periods during the months of July to August over the next five years.

The research program, which will be funded by the Club Hotel Casino Loutraki to the tune of 20,000 euros a year (or 100,000 euros for the full five years), was recently approved by the Central Archaeological Council (KAS), giving the green light to the research team of Greek and Austrian archaeologists to get started this summer on their task of revealing the signs of a living and active community in the ruins of the walls, gate and the Temple of Asclepius at Ancient Feneos.

Club Hotel Casino Loutraki has taken on the role of fairy godmother to other culturally minded programs in the region. Two years ago it helped fund the restoration of four stone buildings that were once schools (in Feneos, Mosia and Mati) and will now serve as venues for various cultural activities. The company spent 200,000 euros on the project, which is now near completion and will result in Mosia getting a youth center and local council headquarters, Mati a municipal movie theater and library, and Feneos a folk museum/workshop and archaeological museum.

?The municipality of Feneos is in the mountains and it is poor. But it does have an abundance of natural beauty, which, thankfully, has not been destroyed by overdevelopment,? Antonis Stergiotis, the director of KAS and managing director of Club Hotel Casino Loutraki, told Kathimerini.

The philosophy behind the company?s sponsorship program, explained Stergiotis, is to invest in infrastructure that will last, rather than smaller independent projects. ?We are much more generous with this sort of thing than we are, for example, in giving money for a certain artist to sing at a festival. As time goes by, we are increasingly cutting back on one-off projects and leaning more toward long-term collaborations and forging lasting, close relationships with the recipient organizations. For example, we have been sponsors for the Kalamata International Dance Festival and the Nafplio Classical Music Festival for the past seven years,? Stergiotis said.