Passing the buck

Athens Municipality’s sudden closure of the Lycabettus Theater Thursday shortly before a concert that had been scheduled for months has upset not only those who had bought tickets and made the hike up the hill in the searing heat, but the whole of Athens. The most popular open-air theater in the city, the work of the architect Zenetis, a cultural meeting place for generations, the theater that only recently staged concerts by Nick Cave, Mark Knopfler and Lavrentis Machairitsas is apparently at risk of collapse. When was this discovered? Why did the owners of the site, the Greek National Tourism Organization (GNTO), its manager the Greek Festival and the city fathers, the Athens City Council members, wait until June 19, the height of the season, to close the theater? The Greek Festival has blamed the municipality, which has gone on the counterattack. The GNTO and the state tourism properties company (ETA) have not spoken up. The Greek Festival claims that a second inspection of the theater’s statics by an independent firm and an ETA engineer found that the theater was safe but that the municipality had not been informed. The City Council, meanwhile, stands by the first inspection, which found the site unsuitable for use. Mayor Nikitas Kaklamanis hinted that dozens of other venues were operating illegally – and this all of a sudden, right under his own nose! Naturally, he started his campaign with shutting down the Lycabettus Theater. At present it is not clear who is right and who is wrong, but safety cannot be an arena for bureaucratic delays, personal conflicts and a lack of communication. GNTO President Haris Kokkosis and Kaklamanis should be working directly with each other to find a solution, protect the public and the reputation of their institutions, instead of avoiding the issue behind a barrage of statements.