Patras is ready to be Europe’s culture capital

Six different thematic units, 152 events totaling 17.5 million euros, three international conferences and one large pan-European meeting of amateur and young artists will make up the program of events for Patras 2006: European Capital of Culture. Just a few weeks separate the capital of the Achaia Prefecture from the greatest moment of its most recent history. Now, says Patras 2006 Artistic Director Thanos Mikroutsikos, the official program of events is finally ready. At a recent press conference, Mikroutsikos also noted that «the result we want to achieve is not just to stage wonderful events, but to create, through the institution of the Capital of Culture, institutions that will, in the coming years, become a permanent feature on Europe’s cultural map.» The six units do not blend into one another, but are featured at separate times: Carnival (January 21 – March 5), Poetry and Music (April 27 – May 13), New Scene of Ancient Drama (May 19 – June 4), Traveling (June 5 – September 30), Religion and Art (November) and Children’s Art (December). Added to these are the Opening Days (January 10-19) and Closing Days (December 12-30). The series of events for Opening Days includes highlights such as the exhibition «Leonardo da Vinci: Inventor, Scientist» and a concert with the Patras Orchestra and Gary Burton. As for infrastructure, Mikroutsikos said a string of projects that began in 2005 (such the Open Theater with 3,000 seats, the multimedia space in the old agricultural cooperative warehouses and the remodeling of the city’s old hospital, for example) would not be ready in time for the big moment, but also said that they «are extremely useful to the city and invaluable in developing the standard of culture.» The artistic director added that work has already begun on the construction of a large, enclosed theater.