Greece’s rich culture fails as vigorous economic product

BRUSSELS – Greece produces remarkably little in a field where it has a lot to offer – culture. Apart from being a somewhat abstract notion, culture is also an economic activity that benefits large countries with advanced economies and is vital to a small country like Greece with a dearth of exportable resources and an abundance of cultural treasures. An extensive report by the European Commission has measured and evaluated how much each EU member state has converted its cultural resources into an economically active product. The result for Greece is disappointing, with the country coming close to last on the list. The added value of the Greek cultural product is just 1 percent of its GDP, the third lowest in Europe, and less than much smaller countries such as Cyprus, Luxembourg and Malta. At the other extreme, France draws 3.4 percent of its GDP from culture, which corresponds to more than 80 million euros, or more than 10 times the amount for Greece. The Commission employed a fairly broad definition of culture that includes, along with museum and archaeological sites, activities such as cultural tourism, the sale of cultural products, theater and dance, publications, audiovisual material, and even architecture. Using that broad definition, the report estimates that Greece employs almost 100,000 people in the culture sector, a relatively high number by European standards. But the economic output is way out of proportion. What is not lacking is the cultural heritage, which in Greece absorbs 50 percent of total state funding for culture, a proportion similar to that in France and Italy. State funds, useful though they are, do not bring about the same results in all countries.

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