Now approaching its home stretch, the Cultural Olympiad, a four-year series of cultural events leading up to the Athens 2004 Olympics, will be gaining momentum as the Games get closer. A number of significant events have already taken place, among them Mikis Theodorakis’s «Lysistrata,» the focus on Greek literature at the recent Frankfurt Book Fair, and Bob Wilson’s «Prometheus.» But plenty more still lies ahead. The second half of 2002 alone will bring considerable activity, both in Greece and abroad. Some 35 events have been scheduled from June to December, compared to the 23 staged since the concept’s launch at the beginning of 2001. Prospective events for the next two years remain under wraps, but, at a recent news conference, Culture Minister Evangelos Venizelos said a full two-year program for 2003 and 2004 would be announced after the summer. Budget under control Commenting on the event’s total cost, the minister told the news conference that a reduction in the original budget, estimated by the Culture Ministry at between 117.3 million and 146.6 million euros, now seemed possible. Though it is risky to predict the Cultural Olympiad’s total cost long ahead of its completion, the cost of staging the first two years has been less than expected. Although the figures still need to be verified, it already appears clear that the total cost for events in 2001 and 2002 will not exceed a total of 20.5 million euros. At Wednesday’s news conference, Venizelos and the Cultural Olympiad’s new president, Evgenios Giannakopoulos, presented the full agenda for this year’s second half. (These came as more of a reminder, particularly for readers of Kathimerini, following the paper’s full listing of events earlier this year.) The two men also noted that efforts were being made at the national and international levels not only to guarantee the success of this newly introduced concept, but to establish it as a standard forerunner to all future Olympic Games. No previous Olympic Games has been preceded by a Cultural Olympiad. Venizelos added that he was planning to assemble an international committee for a meeting in Athens this coming fall with the objective of establishing permanent future Cultural Olympiads ahead of all Olympic events. Olympiad events EXHIBITIONS: «Minoan and Mycenean Cuisine,» Birmingham, July 11; «Post-Byzantium,» New York; «The Taurus in the Mediterranean,» Barcelona, November; Byzantine Icons, Bruges, December; «Full-Moon Icons,» Thessaloniki and abroad, December; Stage Design, Dionyssis Fotopoulos, Spoleto, June 29; Swatch Watches for Athens Olympics, Acropolis, June 15. CONFERENCES: Thessaloniki, «Exile City,» September, about writers vindicated for their ideas; Ecology Conference, Delphi, September 8. MUSIC: Theodorakis’s «Lysistrata,» Greek Tour, Istanbul; «The Siege of Corinth,» Rossini opera in Ancient Corinth, June 21-22; «Die Schweigsame Frau,» Strauss opera, Megaron, October; «Anatoli,» Kalomiris, Thessaloniki Megaron, October; «Fidelio,» Beethoven Opera, Thessaloniki Chamber Opera, September; «Earth Opera,» Orchestra of Colors, Megaron, November; Womad Festival of ethnic music, Goudi, Athens, June 14-16. DANCE: «Zorba,» Theodorakis ballet, Australia, May; «Salome,» Herod Atticus, May 31. THEATER: «Theban Cycle» at Epidaurus, Herod Atticus and Delphi, June; «Theatrical Soliloquies» by well-known actors at Metaxourgeio, Athens, September 24-28.