CULTURE

Thanos Mikroutsikos takes over culture at Athens 2004

It was Thanos Mikroutsikos who, as then-minister for culture, signed Greece’s bid for the Olympic Games. Now that he is responsible for the cultural activities during the Athens Olympics, he hopes, as he told Kathimerini, to «participate in Greece’s efforts to lend a strong cultural dimension to the Olympic Games.» It was the president of the Athens 2004 organizing committee, Gianna Angelopoulos-Daskalaki, who personally called Thanos Mikroutsikos to inform him that his appointment as consultant for cultural affairs had been ratified at the meeting of the board of directors. In practice, this means that he is the one responsible for the choice and realization of the cultural events to be organized by the Athens 2004 committee. He will draw up and direct the program, which will, of course, first be approved of by the company’s board of directors. This section is completely separate from the section responsible for the opening and closing ceremonies for the Olympic Games, for which Dimitris Papaioannou has been commissioned. Indeed, the original Cultural Department was recently split in two, and the independent Ceremonies Department (Papaioannou and ATHOC Executive Director Marton Simitsek) was set up. This new department will soon also be moving into its own offices in central Athens. Thanos Mikroutsikos has now essentially become the head of the Cultural Department (along with board member Yiannis Pyrgiotis). In response to Kathimerini’s question as to what goals he has set himself in his new post, he says,«For the Olympic Games to acquire a cultural dimension.» «The cultural aspect of the Games, as we have seen them in the past few decades, begins and ends with the opening and, if we are lucky, the closing ceremonies,» he explains. «We, however, from the time we submitted our bid for the Games when I was minister and Georgios Lianis was junior minister for sports, are attempting not to make the Olympic Games different, something which, apart from grandiose, is also utopian, but instead to give them a cultural dimension. This is the thinking behind my collaboration with Athens 2004 now. Many things will be determined by the IOC, but we will try to show that Greece is proposing a vibrant cultural dimension to the Olympic Games.» Has the total amount of funds that will be available for these activities been discussed? «This is something fairly variable at this point,» Mikroutsikos replies. «It depends on the board and the director of the company, but also on the level of the sponsorships – that’s for sure. In two months’ time we will know the exact figures.» Will the events he is organizing take place only during the three months of the summer of 2004, or will some also take place earlier, in the two-year period that lies before us? «Certainly for the three months of the summer of 2004. I think that it has been agreed that up until June 2004 these issues will be the responsibility of the Cultural Olympiad. I have the impression, although I have not been fully informed yet, that if the Athens 2004 committee has some ideas, then these should be carried out in collaboration with the Cultural Olympiad.»