NEWS

New Onassis Cultural Center says thank you to its creators

It was a telling moment: A group of workers came up on stage and received the well-deserved applause of a select group of Greek dignitaries led by President Karolos Papoulias. The occasion was the official inauguration of the Onassis Cultural Center in Athens on Tuesday, December 7. Prior to the workmen filling up the stage, accompanied by mezzo-soprano Mary-Ellen Nezi and members of the Camerata Orchestra led by conductor Giorgos Petrou, Anthony S. Papadimitriou, president of the Onassis Foundation, spoke about the foundation’s new endevor. «Thinking that the content is more important than the packaging, that behind the smallest or greatest vision lies man, we asked [director] Michail Marmarinos to design and direct the inception of the center to its audience as an introduction to art and culture. In this way, today’s opening becomes something greater that what words stand for, combining letters, theater, music, photography and film. They become an event dedicated to the clear vision and the rugged hands of those who worked for the construction of this building,» said Papadimitriou. He added, «Being fully aware of the crisis environment in which we are living today, we choose to show the major contribution of those who worked for the center’s creation, making it clear that the center wishes to be accessible to all, without any kind of exclusion.» As the evening proceeded into the cocktail hour, guests touring the new building, designed by Architecture-Studio in Paris, observed live installations, an exhibition of photographs by Stelios Kalafatis and Lia Nalbandidou and listened to live random excerpts from musical productions scheduled to take place at the new cultural center. It was also clear that the building’s ground-floor bar area, Liquid Sky – designed by Aimilia Papaphilippou – is set to become a popular city nightspot. Developed by the Alexander S. Onassis Public Benefit Foundation, the Onassis Cultural Center aims to become a hub of contemporary Greek culture, attracting creativity from within and beyond local borders. Judging from its fact sheet, the necessary infrastructure exists: Covering a surface area of 18,000 square meters, among other features, the new building has a 900-seat amphitheater, a 220-seat auditorium, 700 square meters of exhibition space, a digital library, a professional recording studio and a restaurant. Headed by executive director Dr Christos Carras, the new center has no artistic director, but instead, a team of experts who have already come up with a program of events running to June next year. Tickets for events will range from 7 to 60 euros. While Tuesday’s by-invitation-only inaugural event was repeated last night, the Onassis Cultural Center’s doors will open to the public this Saturday and Sunday, December 11 and 12, with a series of free events ranging from theater and dance performances to concerts and visual arts happenings. Onassis Cultural Center, 107-109 Syngrou, tel 213.017.8000, 210.924.0909. For further information, visit www.sgt.gr.