Greeks admire culture but few indulge in it

Researchers questioned 2,000 people from all over Greece about culture for a recent survey conducted by Metron Analysis on behalf of Highlights magazine, and funded by the Stavros S. Niarchos Foundation. Twelve leading figures from the arts also took part in the survey in the form of individual interviews. The poll, which was the first to cover all aspects of culture, leads to many interesting comparisons and even contradictions. For instance, 52 percent of the respondents agreed that culture was «everything,» yet only 22 percent had visited the National Gallery, and 51 percent did not know where the National Library was. Asked the name of the Culture Minister, 51 percent answered correctly, 14 percent answered incorrectly and 34 percent said they did not know. Of the sample, 88 percent said they watch the news every day on television, while 9 percent said they read the newspaper every day. Asked to name a contemporary Greek film director, 14 percent mentioned Theodoros Angelopoulos, 6 percent Nikos Foskolos, and 5 percent Manousos Manousakis and Pantelis Voulgaris; as for a contemporary foreign film director, 11 percent named Steven Spielberg. In the category of dancer-choreographer, 23 percent named Fotis Metaxopoulos, while 7 percent said Dimitris Papaioannou; asked to name a foreign counterpart, 6 percent chose Rudolf Nureyev. The Greek writers most often named were Nikos Kazantzakis (by 3 percent of those quizzed), Odysseas Elytis (2 percent), Nikos Themelis (2 percent), Yiannis Xanthoulis (1 percent), Vassilis Vassilokos (1 percent) and Antonis Samarakis (1 percent). The foreign writers most mentioned were Pablo Coelho (4 percent), Dan Brown (2 percent), Umberto Eco (1 percent) and Stephen King (1 percent). Given a list of names and asked what each one was famous for, the respondents knew Kofi Annan best (70 percent), followed by Harry Potter (64 percent), Yiannis Tsarouchis (57 percent), Karolos Koun (52 percent), Olaf Palme (50 percent) and Bill Gates (29 percent). Far fewer knew Nikos Karouzos (9 percent), Theodoros Terzopoulos (7 percent), Dimitris Pikionis (5 percent), Jose Saramago (3 percent) and Francis Bacon (3 percent). Television was by far the favorite mass medium among the sample; only 23 percent has used the Internet in the past year (one of the lowest levels in Europe). Going out with friends at least once a month was popular (64 percent), and 19 percent go to the cinema at least once a month. By contrast, 37 percent rent a video or DVD at least once a month. The researchers noted that «the Greek public is still unfamiliar with libraries, given that the number of them who have never used a library is in the double digits» (86 percent). The same applies to books: «There are still people who are afraid of going into a bookstore. They are embarrassed; they feel that if they go in and ask for something incorrectly they’ll be laughed at.» Thus 30 percent never read books that are not related to their work, and 52 percent never read books related to their work. Among the contradictions revealed by the survey are attitudes to supporting culture: 46 percent said they did not make any financial contribution to museums and cultural organizations, and 42 percent described the state’s attitude to culture as «unorganized.» The survey was presented on Thursday at the Byzantine Museum in the presence of Alternate Culture Minister Fani Palli-Petralia and Deputy Culture Minister Petros Tatoulis.

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