CULTURE

Municipality responds to artist’s charges

On March 19, Kathimerini English Edition published an interview by Kathimerini’s Maria Katsounaki with Peter Greenaway in which the British director expressed his displeasure at the cancellation of an Olympic-related event, «Pheidippides 2004,» which was to be an all-around extravaganza with a procession, screenings and a big performance of music, dance, acrobatics and lights spread over the areas of the Kerameikos, the Acropolis, the Theater of Dionysus, Zappeion Gardens and the Panathenaic Stadium. The Cultural Organization of the Municipality of Athens, headed by Deputy Mayor Panos Loukakos, was in charge of the event, but explains its cancellation in very different terms than the artist did in the interview, where he charged the municipality with delays in drawing up a satisfactory contract and with having illogical demands of the artists. Greenaway charged, among other things: «The Kasander production company in Amsterdam was annoyed and disillusioned by the intransigence and repeated delays of the Greek authorities, with all their broken promises and lack of communication, expending considerable finances which still have not been honored – not to mention the Attiki Cultural Society [co-organizer] which, as our representative and Greek production company, paid all our expenses. «In general, there is great disappointment by the artistic and production team for the way the municipality treated an entire group of professionals who tried their best to fulfill a project-creation for Athens…» Below is the response of Loukakos to Greenaway’s interview, published in Kathimerini: The letter Dear Sir, I carefully read the comments of your editor Mrs Maria Katsounaki and the interview with director Peter Greenaway… on the cancellation of the show «Pheidippides 2004.» I would like to clarify a few points for the benefit of your readers and for the editors involved: 1. The board of directors of the Municipality of Athens Cultural Organization received with enthusiasm Greenaway’s proposal, as it was presented by its exclusive representative in Greece, the Attiki Cultural Society. The cost was 2 million euros, which was to be equally split between the municipality and the Cultural Olympiad. The proper legal process was for the work to be commissioned directly, following negotiations. 2. The first time Greenaway’s legal representative in Greece filed a budget plan was on October 6, 2003. This budget was general, vague and unjustified, meaning that approving it would have been illegal. Equally lacking were the proposals filed later, following our requests for further clarifications, which again made it impossible for us to sign an agreement. All of the above were pointed out by us repeatedly, both verbally and in writing. 3. A budget, which was only just in line with legal prerequisites, was eventually handed in to us by the Attiki Cultural Society on February 12, 2004. 4. Following this, the Municipality of Athens Cultural Organization drew up a letter stating the framework of cooperation between the two sides. The main point of this cooperation was the right of the Municipality of Athens to broadcast the event on television worldwide. And this specifically because we had decided to grant such a large sum and because it concerned a director of Mr Greenaway’s stature, not just for the benefit of the people of Athens, but in order to project the Olympic Games and the city of Athens on a global scale. 5. The company representing Mr Greenaway in Greece, following extensive negotiations with us and our legal counsel, agreed to this framework. We then went on to draw up the outline for the contract. After making several amendments to the contract, the Attiki Cultural Society approved it and, on March 18, 2004, the board of directors of the Municipality of Athens Cultural Organization gave its go-ahead for the project. 6. Suddenly though, Mr Greenaway and his Dutch production company [Kasander] rejected the contract outline, without, furthermore, making any counterproposal. Instead, they requested a downpayment of 90 percent of the total cost of the project, before the work was carried out, that is, 1.8 million euros, without any commitment on their end, without ceding their television rights and without giving any legal guarantees. Therefore, because of Mr Greenaway and the production companies representing him in Greece and abroad, it was impossible to allow the project to go ahead. Any other position by the Greek side would have been completely illegal. 7. Following these events, the board of directors of the Municipality of Athens Cultural Organization unanimously rejected the entire proposal on April 20, 2004, judging that the later requests filed by Greenaway’s side were in direct contrast to Greek law and to the terms agreed upon initially. 8. The facts outlined above reflect exactly what happened. The readers and editors of Kathimerini can judge for themselves which party is right and which is wrong, knowing that, however important the production of a worthy artistic event is, it is equally important to follow the letter of the law and to administer public funds legally and responsibly. PANOS LOUKAKOS Athens Deputy Mayor. asdfasdfasdfasdfasdfasdfasdfasdfasdfasdfasdfasdfasdfasdfasdfasdfasdfasdfasfasdf