‘A feat was performed in just eight months’

Christos Roilos, coordinator of the executive committee of organization Patras 2006, expressed the official view of the organization, in responding to questions. On the preparation: «It was done in record time, since the organization that was to implement it was only set up in March 2005. On the one hand, not everything that people expected could be done. On the other hand, a feat was performed in eight months. From March to December, we signed up most of the events, found an advertising firm through an international competition, took every opportunity we had as a company, with the Culture Ministry as the single shareholder. We did what was necessary for the institution to succeed, enlisting everyone’s imagination and pride.» On infrastructure: «We had no budget for projects, only 5 million euros for small interventions. The basic infrastructure is being made by the Municipality of Patras, with Culture Ministry funding. It will be ready by the end of the year and will help the city invest in culture in the future. We had to house the events somewhere. For 3.5 million euros we refurbished five historic buildings, the poorhouse, the old Arsakeio, the Marangopoulo, the Aghiou Georgiou mills, and the Ladopoulos factory.» On the Ergostasio tis Technis: «The architectural study was by Nikos Petropoulos, known as a leading theater designer in Europe. You can’t call it a prefab; it’s just that the frame is made of metal. It was erected in 82 days by an ultra-modern method and is an excellent theater with great acoustics that cost only 1.5 million euros.» On the program of events: «The EU official thought Mikroutsikos’s program was introverted, and indeed it was Greek-centered. We have made changes with the new artistic director to give it the European perspective that was lacking. Of course there will be complaints from some artists I had said would be participating but who were excluded in the end. Local artists think that since their city is Cultural Capital, it will promote their work. It’s not that those included are better, but the director has chosen them according to his philosophy. Not everybody could be in it.» On Eros Ramazzotti’s concert: «It is the big pop concert of the Cultural Capital and it will be impressive. His fee is 170,000 euros and the production cost 600,000 euros. If the concert is sold out we will make a small profit. He was chosen because he is a European artist and he best expresses the spirit of the event. And he is the only one who guaranteed that he would give one single concert in Patras and not perform anywhere else in Greece. In financial terms it was the best choice we could make.» On financial management: «Success is not just a good program but good financial management. Our aim is not to overshoot our budget. That is my personal wager.» PR sponsors: «This is the area where we made a mistake. The idea, in response to the artistic director’s request, was to commit money to the cultural program, and to approach sponsors when we had the program ready. Then we would have developed our program with money from the sponsors. This strategy failed. Besides, for the first time in the history of the institution, the artistic director, the person with the highest profile in the Cultural Capital, gave up the effort three days after the start of our year as Cultural Capital. That had repercussions on the willingness of sponsors to be associated with us. In the end we had to have a basic core of events that we announced and then book the remaining events using the sponsors’ money.» On relations with the city: «The unprecedented number of volunteers – 1,200 individuals – shows the real picture and the attitude of the public. The complaints arise chiefly because some people did not benefit financially or get publicity. Unfortunately, those who have a negative attitude have access to the media. The fact is that local people are attending the events and participating.»

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