Friday saw the appointment of the first foreign director to a Greek museum. France’s Olivier Descotes, artistic creation inspector at the French Ministry of Culture and Communication, was named director of the Benaki Museum in Athens, succeeding Angelos Delivorias.
The search for a new Benaki head took one year and attracted 82 candidacies.
“The procedure was supported pro bono by the executive search firm Egon Zehnder and its goal was to select with the utmost objectivity and impartiality the most capable person to take over the museum’s future and ensure its development and sustainability in the years to come,” the Benaki’s board of trustees noted in a statement released Friday.
Why publish the above excerpt from the Benaki board’s announcement in the first place? To observe the statement alongside all that is currently taking place in the field of public administration, ministries and organizations; for us to realize that this “other world” is not simply a possibility, but that it actually exists, and that, as it turns out, it is not at all invisible, as the political system pretends it to be.
Transparent procedures produce a sense of repulsion in the current government, based on arguments along the lines of “international competitions are time-consuming.” Indeed. Appointing their own people is the most direct choice. Their appointment does not subject to evaluations, nor is it slowed down by notions of meritocracy. Relatives, people who have paid their dues to the party, those who failed to be elected to Parliament, and so on, seem to have the necessary requirements in another, informal grading scale.
International competitions can be risky as they can cause cracks to appear in the Greek public sector’s clientelism character and lead to the establishment of an automated merit system as the norm.
Anything that is not controlled by the government, anything that follows rules which are constantly being redefined by the requirements and demands of the times, is obliged to undergo painful (for all parties involved) evaluations.
The question is whether or not we will carry on rewarding “forged degrees” and “altered grades” as if a day hasn’t gone by.
The road which has been taken by the Benaki Museum is not solely about credibility, but survival as well.