Fuss over local vs imported talent

A Cultural Capital is judged by its program of cultural events. The fuss caused when the original artistic director Thanos Mikroutsikos resigned a few days into the year may have died down, but his specter still floats over the city. «Mikroutsikos’s decisions completely underrated the city’s personnel. There were lots of exclusions. People who worked hard to submit proposals never got a reply. The new artistic director, Alexis Alatsis, is very capable but he cannot do a lot to change the situation,» said Costas Kapellas of Polyedro bookstore, who has been promoting literature in Patras for 25 years. European outlook But there is another point of view, which holds that Mikroutsikos’s program was too Greek-oriented, in that it focused mainly on artists from Patras at the expense of a more European outlook. The truth lies somewhere in between. As lawyer and writer Vassilis Ladas told us, «Local artists should participate, but on the basis of qualitative criteria.» Mantas takes a more aggressive line: «People in the local culture scene saw this as an opportunity to promote their own work. But not everybody can be satisfied.» In the end it seems that any exclusions decided on by Mikroutsikos or his successor would probably give someone cause for complaint. For his part, Alatsis amended the program at some points without interfering with the basic plan. He put the emphasis on events prepared specifically for Patras: «The cultural capital must prompt and create new events such as Benigni reading from Dante’s ‘Divine Comedy’ in the Roman theater, Jose Carreras singing Neapolitan songs with the Patras string orchestras, and Raining Pleasure playing with the Amadeus Ensemble – and not rely on ready-made productions.» But there is a lack of information about the events. «There are lot of worthwhile things happening,» said Despina Chrysanthopoulou, 19. «But is isn’t easy to find out about them.» One of them is the Nea Skini of Ancient Drama, which has started and will last until June 4, and said by many to be the high point of the program.» How did a foreign visitor see things? Max Fage-Petersen, a journalist with Danish radio station P2, was invited to the city by the organizing committee. «It is right to give poor areas the title of Cultural Capital because it gives them an opportunity to develop,» he said. «I noticed that the locals aren’t very interested, but they will realize the benefits later. You can’t do everything in a year, even through the Cultural Capital. It’s enough to give people an idea of how their city could be.»