Cultural Olympiad’s chaotic end

The Cultural Olympiad appears to be heading toward a less-than-glorious finale. Currently lacking a leadership, due to the resignation of both its president and the entire board of directors, the organization has left some of its most ambitious and spectacular productions hanging in midair. The departure last week of the Cultural Olympiad’s leadership, headed by Evgenios Yiannakopoulos, leaves plenty of unfinished business with regard to the organization’s finale. A number of events have now reached a dead end, while others have been canceled. These developments follow a period of inactivity on the part of the former management, due to the pre-election and post-election period. The producer of Philip Glass’s concerts, for instance, has threatened the Cultural Olympiad with canceling the event in order for the organization to meet its prior engagements. (The concerts are scheduled to take place at the Herod Atticus Theater on June 3 and 4.) The Theatro Technis on the other hand, has reached a financial impasse, as it prepares for two glorious performances at Ancient Epidaurus on June 25 and 26. Part of the events of the Cultural Olympiad, the production features scenes from Aristophanic comedies, as staged by the legendary Karolos Koun and his troupe. Inconsistent and beaten, the Cultural Olympiad has yet to give any advance to the Theatro Technis – while the latter is know for its lack of financial savings. So when will preparations begin for this big budget production, scheduled to go on stage in just two-and-a-half months? There is worse, however. At least the aforementioned productions, even though they are «hurting,» are bound by contract. There are other productions that are almost literally up in the air, thanks to the Cultural Olympiad’s stonewalling and verbal agreements. This is the case with a production to feature Manos Hadjidakis’s «Birds.» Initially, the idea was to be a concert of Hadjidakis works, as interpreted by famous artists, including Sting and Leonard Cohen (singing in English). The project was subsequently canceled due to the untimely death of Grammy-awarded composer Michael Kamen, who was the event’s producer. In its place, the acclaimed French Circus Academy undertook to present the Greek composer’s «Birds.» While discussions with the French side began promptly, a contract has yet to be signed. Another cancellation issue looms over an exhibition to feature works by six sculptors, and organized by the Cultural Olympiad in collaboration with the Greek National Gallery. What went wrong here? The National Gallery went over budget in the organization of other exhibitions using Cultural Olympiad funds. Given that the sum destined for the sculpture show had already been spent, the board of directors had to decide what to do. They still have yet to decide. Another event likely for cancellation is the much-discussed series of monologues featuring prominent foreign actors performing in Epidaurus, the Roman Agora and Athens (May, June). No contract has been signed so far – on the contrary, a number of participants have backed out, including Tim Robbins. The same is true of yet another ambitious production, «Summer Nights,» scheduled to take place at Ancient Epidaurus. Participants here were to include actors Fanny Ardant, Aurore Clement and Isabella Rossellini, among others.

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