New era for the Hellenic Festival

A draft law tabled in Parliament yesterday – which will transfer the supervision of the Hellenic Festival (comprising the Athens Festival, the Epidaurus Festival of Ancient Drama and Musical July at the Little Theater of Epidaurus) from the Ministry of Tourism Development to the Ministry of Culture – is expected to solve a slew of bureaucratic problems that have been eating away at the country’s largest cultural event for years. According to an amendment of a draft law concerning cultural funding, the Ministry of Culture will be responsible for the country’s largest festival, an event that gained even greater popularity last summer under the directorship of Giorgos Loukos, who introduced a string of new measures to revamp the rather stagnant festival. The draft law, tabled in Parliament on Tuesday, also makes sense because the Culture Ministry is, among others, responsible for the Central Archaeological Council, which gives the green light for the festival to use its main venues: the Herod Atticus Theater and the two ancient theaters at Epidaurus. Under the leadership of Giorgos Loukos since 2006, the new and improved Hellenic Festival will finally be free of its commitments to the Ministry of Tourism. Furthermore, things are looking especially good for the organization since Culture Minister Giorgos Voulgarakis expressed his active support for Loukos and his policies. One of the problems facing the festival which Voulgarakis is expected to help it overcome is the issue of a longstanding debt to the Archaeological Fund (TAP), which is expected to be settled when Loukos returns from Paris next week. Other changes expected with the transfer are the refurbishment of the former Tsaousoglou factory on Pireos Street, a venue that debuted with festival events last summer and which has been put under the supervision of Loukos, Dimitris Papaioannou and Giorgos Koumendakis. The draft law also foresees an increase of 10 percent, from 30 to 40 percent, in the funds received by the festival from the Greek state’s share in profits from the casinos of Corfu and Parnitha. Furthermore, all festival financial matters, currently scattered between various bodies and organizations, will be brought together into the Culture Ministry’s budget, putting an end to the confusing state of funding procurement that has been the norm until now. News of the Hellenic Festival’s transfer from the Tourism to the Culture Ministry has given the organization a real boost and should enable it to operate more efficiently in the future.

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