CULTURE

Newcomer wants to see changes at Greek Festival

Carrying a bunch of files he had been handed and a plethora of ideas and plans for the 2006 festival season, Giorgos Loukos, the new man of power behind the Greek Festival, returned to France earlier this week. Loukos is regarded as the right man in the right place. He has proved this as dance director of the Opera de Lyon, as well as artistic director of the International Dance Festival in Cannes. A few hours before his departure, Kathimerini spoke to the new… President of the board of directors or artistic director of the Greek Festival? Exactly what is your title? It’s all a little bit hectic right now; to be determined. I have been living abroad for years and, therefore, a few clarifications are needed before we finalize everything. I have already met with Prime Minster [and Culture Minister] Costas Karamanlis and Deputy Culture Minister Petros Tatoulis a few times – I’m just beginning to understand where things stand. You see, boards operate in a different way here. Abroad, it’s the artistic director who is in charge, while the board of directors keeps control. In Greece, on the other hand, the president is also in charge on an artistic level… We’ll see. Are you going to be in charge of this year’s festival at the Herod Atticus Theater and in Epidaurus? I’m not at all involved. I’m taking charge of 2006 – I’m already working on it. As you know, normally something like this should be taken care of two to three years in advance. Which means that we are already behind. You’re going away with lots of files and ideas. Such as? Isn’t it a little bit premature to start making statements? I’m aware of certain opinions and views, including your own, on the subject of the festivals, so I can offer a few of my own: The Athens Festival, for example, cannot go on lasting for five months: From May to October, it’s the longest running festival in the world. It has to be shorter and get a new dynamic… I also believe that it has to open up to the world, to new creativity; new venues must also be added, for a number of reasons, not least because the Herod Atticus is not suited to certain productions and direction. This is nothing new, Thanos Mikroutsikos had already raised this in the past, but he didn’t have time to put it into practice. I hope I will. What are your thoughts on Epidaurus? It’s a special issue and I will have to talk to many people about it. In any case, my overall aim is for renewal and change. Several times you refused to get involved with the Greek Festival in the past. What made you accept this time around? My meetings with politicians were not very encouraging in the past. Even now, a lot of people said to me, «Don’t get involved with the Greek state.» Yet there were numerous artist friends – people I really respect – who encouraged me to get involved. They persuaded me there is a silent majority, a new public that is thirsty for novel things… Look at me, for instance, judging by purely professional criteria, the position itself is not something very interesting for me. And if this kind of proposal came from another country, I wouldn’t even discuss it. But I’m Greek, I’m not Japanese. I love our country and I know how many prominent artists would like to come here and present something, in a different way, away from the go-betweens who usually end up ravaging these kind of events. I just hope that I will have the support of all the select Greek artists who encouraged me to accept the position in the first place.