Use of ancient theaters to be limited to merit

Culture Minister Giorgos Voulgarakis earlier this week announced that the ministry will be re-examining the list of performances that have received approval from the Central Archaeological Council (KAS) to appear at the Herod Atticus Theater and the Ancient Theater of Epidaurus. The aim, he said, is to reduce the number of performances that are to be held at these ancient sites, adding that the ministry has already turned down numerous requests to use the Herod Atticus. Voulgarakis, who has tried to push for more moderate use of the sites, added that there is no time to do anything more this year, which he described as a transitional phase. But he said that as of next year, Giorgos Loukos, the Hellenic Festival’s director (who was present), will have a bigger say in the matter in institutional terms. The minister’s responses come after a fair amount of confusion had cropped up in the public mind regarding the character of the events that are hosted by the theaters, especially the Herod Atticus, where there are 24 productions being staged in addition to the 21 that comprise the Athens Festival. Since the theater is the traditional venue for the capital’s annual festival, these additional, non-festival events have created the sense of a «para-festival» that undermines the image the Athens Festival’s new administration is trying to promote. Loukos disapproval Director Loukos has strongly stated his disapproval of the ancient venues being used for non-festival activities and has also promoted the use of other spaces around the city, such as 260 Pireos, which was inaugurated last weekend. Voulgarakis has said that, for the time being, the ministry will review those events already approved by KAS and also promised that, as of next year, the decision of how the theaters will be used will remain more firmly in the hands of the Culture Ministry and the Hellenic Festival. He was optimistic that a form of collaboration can be found and established, so that it will be valid regardless of who is at the head of the ministry and in charge of the festival. The minister admitted that the whole thing is still rather vague – the festival has no control over the theaters, while the ministry, which is in charge of the theaters, is not responsible for the festival. «Gray areas such as these exist at all ministries of culture and don’t allow us to establish the policies we want to,» he said. «What I mean when I say ‘sensible use’ is that the availability of the theater should depend on every event’s artistic merit and on the monument’s ability to host it,» said Voulgarakis. Voulgarakis said that the ministry would be evaluating KAS’s approvals this week, but the recent attempted bombing attack against him may signal a delay in addressing the issue.

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