Major figures from Greece’s arts and culture scene assessed the extraordinary period we are living through. Throughout the lockdown, the arts have been a bulwark against the dystopian conditions facing humanity. Setting their sights on what comes after the Covid-19 pandemic, the SNF Dialogues held on Wednesday, 27 May at snfdialogues.org brought together figures from the art world to explore how the artistic community can avoid its own state of prolonged lockdown.
I think that, after two very difficult years, we are in the last chapter of this dramatic play. I hope that there is sensitivity around this very important issue, and many colleagues have acted in unison. Whatever efforts have been made to resurrect conflict, they are in fact isolated because they no longer belong to reality.
Foivos Delivorias on the Artist's Role
The main role of art is to open a dialogue with the audience, which in cases such as theater, dance, or concerts has the role of co-creator, seeking common ground on how we envision society. The deep, human need we have to belong to a community—and that community is created when people come together to watch a work of art—is what will lead us back to normalcy.
Prodromos Tsinikoris on the Labels Put on Artists
Through a video from iMEdD’s journalistic record “Parontes,” costume designer Vasiliki Syrma, actor and musician Christina Maxouri as well as actor and director Vasilis Bisbikis shared their thoughts and concerns about the future of the arts.
The Dialogues webcast also featured, via live video, various contributors who tackled the topic at hand from their own individual points of view. Katerina Evangelatos, Artistic Director of the Athens and Epidaurus Festival; Linda Kapetanea, Artistic Director of the Kalamata Dance Festival; Nikos Kolovos, Artistic Director of the National Theatre of Northern Greece; Marily Konstantinopoulou and Dimitra Nikolou, co-founders of ARTWORKS; Thomas Machairas, Artistic Director of Release Festival; Giannis Paltoglou, Artistic Director of Ejekt Festival; Mily Paschali, Artistic Director at the SNF; and Anna Fonsou, President of the “Actor House,” all contributed to the discussion.
What artistic creation looks like without the physical presence of an audience was one key question addressed. Katerina Evangelatos, Artistic Director of the Athens and Epidaurus Festival, noted, “It not in the nature of art not to have an audience. For me, it is unthinkable for art to exist without the physical presence of the audience in the room, opposite the performer, opposite the work of art and next to another spectator or listener who will share this experience with them, which is unique and makes humans human." Linda Kapetanea, Artistic Director of the Kalamata Dance Festival, shared her own thinking: “A work of art is always created for the public and carries the hope of a meeting and a sharing. Without the audience, there is no art. In the performing arts, we need physical presence. The moment of the show is a complete experience. The work of art is co-created and evolves with the audience.” Marily Konstantinopoulou and Dimitra Nikolou, co-founders of ARTWORKS, created through a founding grant from the SNF, contributed from the point of view of the visual arts: “What is important every time is that the artist chooses how to showcase their work, because this choice itself is part of the work. Therefore, adaptation to the digital world should not be a violently imposed condition, because then, what will change in the end is how the public perceives art as a whole.”
Mily Paschali, Artistic Director at the SNF, talked about how artistic creation and expression are affected by the pandemic: “The pandemic will have a lasting impact on the economy of culture, and I don’t mean only in terms of the livelihood of artists and cultural organizations. This field is called upon to create, protect, and secure the rights to digitization of content and freedom of expression. Artists are redefining their work and their relationship with the audience, and the samples we have already seen are impressive. They are very promising. I will conclude with something Mao Zhedong said: "There is great chaos under heaven; the situation is excellent.” According to Anna Fonsou, President of the “Actor House,” art must always flourish. “Let us not forget that war is accompanied by great performances. War is accompanied by painting, poetry, all the arts, because we feel that, through art, we need to make the economy and everything else flourish. So, it is through art that we will be saved.”
Thomas Machairas, Artistic Director of Release Festival, and Giannis Paltoglou, Artistic Director of Ejekt Festival, talked about the immense financial damage suffered by the concert industry in recent months, as well the relevant government provisions. “There need to be more measures, and they must be more substantial, long-term, and decisive. I want to make it clear that for us, for all of us, it is becoming clear that there can be no real reactivation of our profession when any type of restrictive measures are in force. Anything else is a half measure and is not really helping us return,” stressed Thomas Machairas. According to Giannis Paltoglou, “In the field of concerts, the damage is incalculable. Concerts have already been banned since March 2020, and it seems the ban will last for at least the next year, in practice at least—there will be no concerts. Summer is now beginning and the central government has not shown any understanding of the financial significance of concerts as state revenue.”
Nikos Kolovos, Artistic Director of the National Theatre of Northern Greece, commented on the same issue from the point of view of his own sector: “The responsibility, the challenge, and the honor is great, to report, record, and highlight our potential to have culture, to help all the artists who have to act and have something to say this summer, marking another historic success: that of the world’s first cultural reactivation where other—much more advanced—countries are slowing down and delaying.”
iMEdD – Parontes (Artists)
Arts thriving in the midst of a pandemic
The importance of a physical audience
The financial damage in the arts sector
Human resources and financial repercussions
Support Art Workers- Athens, Greece
Support Art Workers - Thessaloniki, Greece
The SNF Dialogues are curated and moderated by Anna-Kynthia Bousdoukou.
*The opinions expressed by Dialogues participants, whether officially representing institutions and organizations or themselves alone, at events, in articles, or in other audiovisual media are solely their own and do not necessarily represent the views of the Stavros Niarchos Foundation (SNF) or iMEdD. Speakers' remarks are made freely, without prior guidance or intervention from the team.