Country reports

GREECE

Matina Magkou
Last update: April 19th

Measures announced by the Ministry of Culture and Sports to strengthen the contemporary culture affected by the effects of the health crisis

On April 2nd, the Ministry of Culture and Sports announced a EUR 15 million support plan to stimulate and enhance the resilience of contemporary culture, creators and professionals. From this amount, EUR 5 million came from the 2020 Ministry’s budget, while the extra EUR 10 million came from the Ministry of Economy. Those measures come in parallel to horizontal measures announced by the government, which is some cases also touch on the cultural and creative sectors.

For the first phase of the Ministry’s Development Measures and New Initiatives Plan, the following has been foreseen:

  • Firstly, a special call for the financial support of Digital Cultural initiatives was already announced on March 20th, aiming at: a) the stimulation of the market and the strengthening of the relevant professions and b) the creation of new digital content that can be available in the short-term;
  • A special call is foreseen for the development of short movies and documentaries that will be coordinated through the Greek Film Centre;
  • Municipal Regional Theaters are being supported with EUR 20.000 beyond their fixed grant and will be supported further by EUR 35.000 in the coming months. This measure aims at supporting regional policy on culture and local cultural organisations and creatives;
  • A special call is foreseen for the design sector aiming at promoting Greek design abroad and supporting creatives;
  • A special call is foreseen in the field of animation and will be managed by the Greek Film Centre. The call will be the first of this kind announced by the Ministry and is expected on the 22nd of April 2020. The programme aims at supporting creatives but also promoting Greek animation abroad;
  • When the crisis broke out, there was a running open call of the Ministry of Culture and Sports that had been announced in mid-January including specific strands for different sectors of cultural activity. The deadline for submissions of interest was in March 2020. Nevertheless, the measures announced in the framework of the Development Measures and New Initiatives Plan, included the sectors already to be supported through the annual call, expanding thus the funds that were to be allocated in these fields. More specifically, it was announced that there would be a new call for the support of theater productions, especially those produced by small theater companies in order to support artists and theater professionals. The same applies for the field of dance;
  • A special call is expected for visual artists to submit proposals (with a two to three years life span) aiming at supporting research, production and the promotion of contemporary Greek artistic production and giving opportunities to young creatives;

Furthermore, when it comes to cultural venues, the Ministry announced the following measures:

  • Extraordinary support addressed to cinema venues that were forced to seize projections due to the COVID-19 measures;
  • Support to exhibition spaces and galleries through the further support of Art Athina aiming at promoting Greek artists inside and outside Greece.

In the field of books, the Ministry announced the following:

  • The Ministry will take over the creation of a specialized platform – in cooperation with the Greek publishers’ community – that will make  literature available for children and adolescents;
  • Given the cancelation of Book Fairs, a special platform will be created to promote Greek books abroad. This platform will be associated with the translation of books programme that had already been announced before the health crisis;
  • The Ministry also foresees the re-design of the Thessaloniki Book Fair so that it becomes more extrovert and stimulates further the reading of books among different audiences;
  • Support to digital activities stimulating the reading of books aiming at supporting writers and actors – narrators, while creating new digital content that can be immediately available.

The Ministry announced that it would proceed structural changes so that contemporary Greek culture, artists and creative professionals can be further supported.

Further measures announced that directly address artists and creatives are the following:

  • The allocation of additional budget to contemporary culture organisations supervised by the Ministry that will be destined to commissioning works to Greek artists (visual artists, directors, composers, actors, screenwriters, etc). It has been announced that already the Greek National Opera and the Thessaloniki Film Festival have submitted their proposals and will put in place this action;
  • Extra budget to contemporary arts museums supervised by the Ministry for the purchase of works by Greek visual artists;
  • Direct purchase of visual artists’ works by the Ministry, through the involvement of the Chamber of Fine Arts in Greece;
  • The Fund of Archeological Proceeds will address a second invitation to artists, members of the Chamber of Fine Arts of Greece, to create imaginative works inspired by Greek cultural heritage, which will become available for purchase from the shops of archeological sites and museums later on.

The Ministry – in cooperation with the Ministry of Digital Transformation – is working towards putting online a lot of digital content on a specialized Culture Platform that will connect citizens with cultural activities in Greece and abroad, and will promote the activities of cultural organisations supervised by the Ministry and museums and archeological sites.

Finally, another important step announced by the Ministry is the design and implementation of a research among professionals of the cultural and creative field in Greece for measuring the impact of the crisis in the sector. The research will start in May 2020 and the results will be announced at the end of 2020. The aim is that these results will feed into evidence-based policies of the Ministry in the near future.

In parallel, many artistic professions and cultural professionals fall under the measures announced by the Greek government as a response to the crisis. Entrepreneurs in the field of creative and cultural industries, as well as freelancers have access – depending on their situation – to a support of EUR 800 for the month of April as compensation of lost activity or to a training voucher worth EUR 600. Horizontal measures regarding professionals are revised constantly as the situation evolves.

Further relief measures have been put into place regarding social security and VAT obligations for enterprises and free lancers. Nevertheless, there has been protests from the professional communities that not all artistic related professions have been taken into consideration in the measures (for example, there were quite some concerns raised by technical support staff of live performance and freelancers that are not represented by any professional association). 

The artistic and cultural professionals community is also actively organising itself to advocate for further, comprehensive and longer-term support to the sector. For example by adhering to international initiatives promoted by organisations such as IETM, with the request that substantial support is guaranteed to the sector through the foreseen Coronavirus Response Investment Initiative grant.

Other initiatives

– The Greek National Opera, a cultural organisation supervised by the Ministry of Culture, announced the donation of 20.000 free performance tickets to doctors and nurses of the National Health System;

– The Onassis Foundation launched ENTER, a new initiative that has commissioned new works to artists across generations and arts field. Onassis Stegi and Onassis USA have commissioned artists across the globe to prepare new works in 120 hours. The thought behind it is that we need to include and understand the present, to learn from it, and at the same time create a digital capsule which will perserve the memory of this period for future generations.

– The new Artistic Director of the Athens & Epidaurus Festival announced the programme for 2020 in a video, hoping that it will be realized as soon as circumstances allow it.