Rich Olympic cultural agenda

The entire city will be a celebration – this is the motto for the cultural events that the Municipality of Athens has planned for the duration of the Olympics and Paralympics, aiming at strengthening the festive spirit in the city center. The overwhelming number of events (over 630, which will take place in open-air areas throughout Athens) hopes to satisfy another ambition: that the festive spirit should prevail over security measures and Athens should give the impression of a city that is having fun and is not afraid. «We are the first city to organize the Olympic Games after September 11 and it is crucial for us to strike a balance between security and the identity of the Games,» said Athens Mayor Dora Bakoyannis. «The Games’ identity is the greatest message of peace to the world. We must win this bet.» The municipality’s program was planned over the past 10 months and is divided into three parts. The main part consists of the hundreds of music and other events that will be held in the city center and will convey the feeling of celebration. There will also be an open-air display of visual art, mostly around Athens’s historical center, with 85 works under the title of «Athens by Art». Finally, a series of exhibitions will either present Greek output or will be related to Athens or the Olympic Games. Thirteen permanent tents will be set up over the next few days to meet the needs of the events at: Koumoundourou, Thiseion, Avdi (Metaxourgeio), at the Museum of Folk Music Instruments, Iroon, Aghiou Thoma, Omonia, Santaroza, the Cultural Center, Fokionos Negri, Technopolis and Mesolongi. Events of «a walking nature» are also scheduled to take place on Philopappou Hill, at the Tower of the Winds in Plaka, and in Dionysiou Areopagitou and Adrianou streets, while a separate program is being planned for the Roman Agora. Open-air concerts will cover a wide range of musical genres, with Greek artists very much to the fore. From Domna Samiou and Melina Tanagri to Elli Paspala and Raining Pleasure, the organizers have opted for variety, further diversified by the large number of foreign artists whom embassies in Athens will introduce. Visual arts events will be led by the «Athens by Art» exhibition, organized by Athens Municipality in collaboration with the Greek Association of Art Critics and consisting of artworks by approximately 70 Greek artists and selected by 16 curators. The exhibition will start from the Dionysiou Areopagitou pedestrian street and will extend towards Apostolou Pavlou Street, Asomaton Square, Pireos Street, Kerameikos, Omonia Square, the National Gardens, the Zappeion Hall and further along. The Technopolis Arts Complex will host «City of Games,» a panorama of contemporary Greek painting which will be on display August 4 to September 9. Technopolis will also host the «Athens, Between Sky and Sea» photography exhibition by Philip Plisson, who captured moments of daily life in the city, which will run on the same dates. Another highlight of the exhibitions will be «Leonardo e lo sport,» which will include original sketches by Leonardo Da Vinci as well as copies that depict his relationship with sports, on display at the Melina Cultural Center in Thiseion, August 10 to September 28.