1. Cultural policy system
Last update: October, 2013
Central elements of contemporary Greek cultural policy and practice can be better understood in the light of its heritage, as well as its recent history. Greece emerged as a nation state in the early 19th century, endowed with a formidable Classical heritage, as well as with strong community bonds based on the Christian Orthodox tradition.
After the War of Independence against the Ottoman Empire, the country was formally established in 1827. Under the predominant influence of the Enlightenment, the Greek state adopted educational and cultural heritage preservation policies which resulted in a national programme and stringent legislation on the protection of the archaeological heritage, which persisted through most of the 19th and 20th century. Institutions such as the Greek Archaeological Service, a National Archaeological Museum, a National Library, the University of Athens and a National Theatre were created gradually during the course of a century. Developments in literature and the arts in Greece mirrored contemporary movements in Western Europe, with which Greek intellectuals and artists had developed strong links.
The Second World War, and the bloody Civil War that followed it, left Greece – its politics, economy and society – in shatters. Deep divisions between the victorious right and the defeated left, reinforced by political clientelism and prolonged measures of political censure, had a marked effect on cultural life. Anti-establishment writers and artists were excluded from state programmes of support, and some were forced to live in exile in more hospitable western European countries, notably France. Associations of artists and writers, cultural and media organisations remained, as a rule, sectarian and divided.
Gradually improved standards of living allowed, during the 1950s and 1960s, the flourishing of strong popular music recording and cinema industries. The Greek Radio Foundation (EIR) expanded its network of regional radio stations, and its Third Programme became a focus for cultivated music (classical, jazz, traditional-folk) and programmes on literature and the arts. The Athens Festival, hosted every summer in the restored Theatre of Herodes Atticus, became a venue for international music, ballet and drama performances accessible to Greek audiences, while the Thessaloniki Film Festival became a focus for both Greek cinema and international productions. Writers such as Nobel laureates Georges Seferis and Odysseas Elytis, composers such as Manos Hatzidakis and Mikis Theodorakis, and theatre companies such as Theatro Technis transcended political boundaries and provided much-needed bearings to a society in transformation. Journals such as Epitheorissi Technis, Nea Hestia, Epoches, Theatro, and Zygos, became the focus for expression and debate in literature and the arts.
In the 1960s, a significant number of archaeological museums were built in major cities or near important archaeological sites, housing the expanding numbers of artefacts found in systematic and rescue excavations. The Greek Archaeological Service operated through a decentralised structure of regional ephorates of antiquities – as well as the Archaeological Society of Athens and foreign archaeological schools and institutes active in Greece. In addition, Athens was endowed with a National Gallery, to house a representative collection of 19th and 20th century Greek painting and sculpture.
Initially, responsibility for culture and cultural policy was divided between different government ministries. A separate Ministry of Culture and Sciences was created in 1971, when Greece was ruled by a military junta. After the restoration of democratic rule and normal cultural life in 1974, the Ministry gained authority. New Ministers were appointed who, apart from career politicians, included some notable artists and intellectuals, such as actress Melina Mercouri whose long-standing position as Minister (1981-89, and again 1993-95) informed major elements of the current cultural policy.
Challenges facing the Ministry to date include:
- the preservation and valorisation of the archaeological heritage of Athens and other large cities, threatened by rapid urbanisation;
- the need to support an expanding cultural sector and a more active participation in cultural life not only in Athens, but also in the increasingly developed regions;
- the international dimension of Greek cultural policies, accentuated by Greece's re-admittance as a full member of the Council of Europe after the fall of the military dictatorship in 1974, and, notably, by its accession to the European Union in 1981;
- hosting the 2004 Summer Olympics in Athens, concomitant opportunities in developing cultural infrastructure and events, and the challenge of placing Athens in the limelight of international attention, and
- facing the harrowing challenge of fiscal crisis which has led, since 2009, to growing economic depression and large scale unemployment, especially among the young.
The budget of the Ministry of Culture represents historically a small fraction of the state budget. Some public investments relevant to the arts or heritage are provided by other Ministries (Public Administration, Public Works, Press and Media). In recent years, culture has increasingly depended for funding on the EU Community Support Framework, cultural attraction visitor and sales revenues, and, since the mid-1990s, on the Lottery Fund, administered by the Ministry of Culture. Major programmes, such as the Athens (1985), Thessaloniki (1997) and Patras (2006) European Capital of Culture events, the Cultural Olympiad events linked with the Athens 2004 Summer Olympics, and investments in cultural infrastructure, such as the Athens and Thessaloniki Concert Halls, could not have taken place without these sources.
The increased need for archaeological heritage protection and valorisation was recognised by the inception of major restoration initiatives such as the Restoration of the Acropolis Monuments programme, and the launching of an international campaign for the return of the Parthenon Marbles in conjunction with the creation of a new Acropolis Museum, which opened in 2009. A master plan for the reunification of the archaeological sites of Athens was adopted in the early 1990s and pursued actively to the mid-2000s, restoring monuments, establishing visitor facilities, creating pedestrian ways and regulating traffic so that visitors can have seamless access to Athenian archaeological attractions.
A shift towards decentralisation in the early 1980s resulted in the creation of regional theatre organisations and other local arts infrastructures. In the mid-1990s, the National Cultural Network of Cities was created, including regional centres for performing or visual arts. The selection of Thessaloniki as European Cultural Capital of the Year in 1997 provided the grounds for a major expansion of the city's cultural infrastructure. A nation-wide programme, "Domain of Culture", was based on ten geographically distributed thematic networks, ranging from cinema, dance and photography to arts management and popular culture, and local and regional government bodies undertook an increasing range of activities, governed by rolling multi-year programme agreements with the Ministry of Culture. Other cultural administration activities were transferred from the Ministry of Culture to arms-length organisations such as the Greek Film Centre, National Book Centre, and the short-lived National Centre for Theatre and Dance, abolished in 2010. A new organisation plan for the Ministry of Culture was put in place in 2003, and current policies focus on rebalancing the role of central authority vis-à-vis the local and regional level, encouraging private sponsorship for the arts, expanding measures for the economic exploitation of cultural goods, and strengthening international cooperation for the return of illegally exported antiquities.
The recent financial crisis and measures of increasing austerity that were taken from 2009 onwards has had obvious consequences on cultural policy, mainly related with substantial cuts of funds allocated to culture. A trend towards re-centralisation is manifested in the abolition or marginalisation of arms-length organisations (with the exception of the National Book Centre and the Greek Film Centre), combined, at the same time, with an attempt to democratise and rebalance the role of central government versus culture and the arts.
The Ministry issued for the first time in 2010 two online public consultations, one for a legal framework for Cinema based on a draft of a new law proposal; and another one for establishing a framework for Theatre funding. Moreover, a White Paper for further re-shaping of the policy priorities and structures of cultural policy and the contemporary arts, prepared by a commission of experts established by the Minister of Culture and aiming at increased transparency, rational allocation of funds and independence from political intervention in the arts, was published in March 2012.
Main features of the current cultural policy model
Greece follows a mixed cultural policy model. The government has traditionally had a privileged interventionist role in establishing and enforcing policy priorities for culture, especially in the field of cultural heritage, but also now increasingly in supporting creativity, access and financial exploitation of the arts. However, the task of developing and implementing specific programmes has gradually become the responsibility of sectoral or local organisations, and, with the exception of cultural heritage protection and national arts organisations, funding for operational programmes has gradually shifted from central to regional and local government. A previous tentative trend (since the mid-1980s) towards an arms-length governance system was recently reversed towards re-centralisation, and many responsibilities are now back within the responsibility of the Ministry of Culture's departments. Further possible changes, proposed in a cultural policy White Paper published in March 2012, may include the establishment of an Arts Council with strong consultative mandate on issues of policy, to work in tandem with a General Directorate for Contemporary Culture restructured into a process-based organisation chart.
After the 2009 elections, a joint Ministry of Culture and Tourism was established, having responsibility for policies for the two fields together with sport, and for a brief period the field of media and information. A trend towards mainstreaming within the scope of regional development, employment and tourism policies, as well as towards rationalisation in public investment in the arts and culture, is manifest. While local and regional government has increasing access to funds, both from the national budget and from EU structural funds, there are no indications so far of governance structures or coherent policies at the regional and local level directed specifically to culture and the arts.
Cultural policy objectives
Cultural policy objectives are constrained by the statutory obligation for the protection of cultural heritage, a field that maintains absolute priority in state funding, organisational support and effort. In the broader field of culture and the arts, stated policy priorities are to build closer ties between culture and society (including cultural participation), to support creativity, especially young artists and culture professionals, and to promote internationalisation of Greek cultural production.
The principle of equal access and participation in cultural life is asserted in the Greek constitution, and manifested in the investments previously made in infrastructure for the arts, both in the regions and metropolitan centres. Educational programmes in schools, and free access to museums and archaeological sites, are meant to develop a positive attitude among young people towards culture and the arts. Extensive works in archaeological sites, museums and cultural venues have been undertaken to make them accessible to people with physical handicaps.
The principle of promoting identity is predominant in Greek cultural policy, as shown by the emphasis on the diachronic unity of Greek cultural heritage and on the prevalent views expressed both in policy documents and in public debate about the uniqueness and distinctiveness of Greek culture. This is reflected also in the policy actions concerning Greeks abroad (Greek diaspora) and in the teaching of the Modern Greek language, both at the national level, as well as through the language teaching activities abroad of the Hellenic Foundation for Culture.
The principles of promoting diversity and respect of cultural rights is expressed in the constitutional right of freedom of artistic and literary expression, as well as in sporadic positive discrimination programmes encouraging the cultural expression and participation in cultural life of groups such as the Roma people and the Muslim minority of Thrace. While Greek society is predominantly homogeneous as regards popular traditions, in line with other fully urbanised societies, folk cultures representing small ethnic groups are well represented in folk art museums, traditional music and dance groups. In the past, the Ministry of Culture monument restoration programme has involved several mosques and synagogues; a decision to build a mosque in the Athens area was reversed by the coalition government formed in late 2011.
The principle of support for creativity is expressed in the Greek constitution. Within the limited overall budgets available for culture, the Greek state does provide support for creators through public commissions and purchasing of works, support for artist mobility (mainly in the performing arts), funding for translation of literary works, subsidies for theatre, dance and film productions, literary and other prizes, and social benefits such as honorary pensions for renowned artists. In addition, both the creation of infrastructure for the arts and cultural programming is largely supported by public funds and administered by the central -and to some extent also regional and local- government.
Last update: October, 2013
The following diagram incorporates the current organisation chart of the Ministry of Culture and Tourism, as well as other relevant Ministries, state and third sector organisations.
A White Paper recently prepared by a team of independent experts at the request of the Minister of Culture proposes significant changes to the organisation chart of the Ministry of Culture and Tourism. The following diagram presents the partial organisational structure in the field of contemporary culture that would ensue if draft legislation (currently in preparation) incorporating proposed changes, is adopted by the Parliament.
Last update: October, 2013
Overall responsibility for policy in the fields of cultural heritage and the arts lies with the Ministry of Culture and Tourism. Sport is also under the Ministry's jurisdiction, supervised by a separate Undersecretary for Sport. A separate undersecretary is in charge of Tourism.
On constitutional grounds, the Greek Parliament has a key role in cultural affairs, notably, passing legislation on issues pertaining to cultural heritage and the arts, which are introduced by the Minister of Culture. In addition, it's Standing Committee for Culture and Education has an important role in supervising the implementation of policies and programmes of the Ministry of Culture and its agencies; issues relevant to foreign cultural policy, on the other hand, are addressed via the Standing Committee on Greeks Abroad or the External Affairs Standing Committee of Parliament.
The Ministry of Culture consists of four General Directorates: Antiquities and Cultural Heritage; Restoration, Museums and Technical Works; Contemporary Culture; and, Administrative Support (which includes the Directorates of European Union and of International Relations). Together they have collective responsibility for the:
- preparation and implementation of legislation;
- the definition and implementation of the regulatory framework;
- strategic planning, programming, funding;
- programmes and activities in the fields of cultural heritage preservation and valorisation (including archaeology, museums, and folk culture); and
- preparing sector policies for books, literature, the visual arts (including photography, design, and digital media), cinematography, music, theatre, dance, and performing arts in general.
The Ministry of Culture and Tourism and the Ministry of the Environment, Energy and Climate Change are jointly responsible for protection of the architectural and natural heritage.
Some areas of policy responsibility lie with other Ministries, including:
- Ministry of Foreign Affairs (certain instruments pertaining to foreign cultural policy);
- General Secretariat for Greeks Abroad;
- Ministry of Education, Lifelong Learning and Religious Affairs (with
departments responsible for various religious denominations);
- General Secretariat for Lifelong Learning;
- General Secretariat for Youth;
- Secretariat of Information and Communication, under the authority of the State Minister and Government Spokesman, for media policy.
The Ministry of Culture and Tourism is assisted in the preparation, planning, funding, control and / or implementation of policy by consultative bodies, such as the Central Archaeological Council, the Modern Monuments Council, the National Commission of Museums, and by arms-length agencies, such as the National Book Centre, the Greek Film Centre, the Fund of Credits Management for Archaeological Work and the Hellenic Intellectual Property Organisation. Members of these consultative bodies and the governing bodies of arms-length organisations are appointed by the Minister of Culture, with some positions filled by ex officio representatives from the sector (different to the British or Nordic models of arms-length).
The Ministry has set up special departments responsible for cultural heritage protection: the Ephorate of Underwater Antiquities, the Ephorate of Private Collections and the Service for the Restoration of the Acropolis Monuments. In addition, a number of archaeological museums were given special regional service status (National Archaeological; Epigraphical; Numismatic; Byzantine; Archaeological Museum of Heraklion; Archaeological Museum of Thessaloniki; Museum of Byzantine Culture of Thessaloniki). In addition, several regional services of the Ministry of Culture are responsible for the on-site implementation of policies on the protection, preservation and valorisation of archaeological heritage, namely, 25 Ephorates of Prehistoric and Classical Antiquities, 14 Ephorates of Byzantine and Post-Byzantine Antiquities, and 8 Ephorates of Contemporary and Modern Monuments.
Several major public museums and galleries operate at arms-length from the Ministry despite being almost fully dependent on central government funding. These include: the National Gallery-Alexandros Soutzos Museum, the National Museum of Contemporary Art in Athens and the State Museum of Contemporary Art in Thessaloniki. Some not-for-profit foundations or associations, such as the Benaki Museum, the Museum of Cycladic Art, the Macedonian Centre of Contemporary Art in Thessaloniki, the Greek Film Archive, and the Foundation of the Hellenic World play an important complementary role.
The Ministry of Culture provides support for regional cultural development and the arts via its arms-length sector bodies. Some regional theatre organisations, municipal cinemas, cultural centres and other similar organisations are co-funded by the Ministry of Culture, and operate under the long-term programme agreements between the municipalities and the Ministry. As a rule, such organisations operate as agencies of local government, under its effective administrative control. The actual co-ordination of policy by central government is organised on an ad-hoc basis, sometimes based on the implementation of framework agreements with regional cultural institutions, such as the municipal theatres, and those founded under the Cultural Network of Cities programme, or aided by sectoral bodies such as the National Centre for Books and the Greek Film Centre. In addition, a large number of independent folk art, ethnographic, applied arts or local history museums are financially supported by the Ministry of Culture.
Current central government policies are based on an attempt to re-adjust the balance between direct government and at arms-length control, mostly on the basis of a re-centralisation initiative in terms of governance, and a rationalisation and transparency drive in terms of public funds allocation. A register of independent arts organisations has been established in 2010 as a tool to establish an open mechanism for documentation and funds allocation. However, in the current austerity climate (after 2009), central government funds barely cover the support to current infrastructure and payroll in state and state-supported national institutions, and funding to independent arts organisations is very limited; as a result, funding for cultural action has shifted dramatically from the central to the regional level, which (after the abolition of the sectoral European Community Support Framework operational programme for culture) still benefits from EU funding that can be used for some culture-related initiatives.
A major organisational change was recommended by a recently prepared White Paper commissioned by the Minister of Culture in the area of contemporary culture and cultural policy at large. The proposed change introduces a new organisational plan for the General Directorate of Contemporary Culture, including the fields of folk and popular culture, independent popular art, local history, and contemporary culture museums, intercultural dialogue policies, and cultural industries and divided in four new, process-based directorates: a. Strategy & Planning; b. Policy Implementation; c. Supervision, Administration & Support; d. Artistic Education; and e. Popular Culture & Intercultural Dialogue. In the light of general elections in mid-2012, it is not clear to what extent proposed changes will be adopted and implemented by the next government.
Please find the available information on this subject in 1.2.2.
Please find the available information on this subject in 1.2.2.
Last update: October, 2013
There is not much interaction between NGOs in the cultural sector, although the need to work in networks is progressively understood as a necessary practice. The same applies to participation in international networks which is increasingly becoming a cultural policy priority.
The new funding mechanism of the Ministry of Culture introduced in 2010 and requiring that all associations asking for funding need to register in an online registry, will allow for a better regulation of the field in the following years. Civil society initiatives are gradually gaining ground. Advocacy and lobby groups include professional associations working towards the acquisition of their professional rights or measures affecting the cultural field they operate in.
The cultural platform Elculture, with the support of the Onassis Cultural Centre, organises on a monthly basis since 2011 a series of round tables under the title "Talk forward", tackling different topics of cultural policy.
Last update: October, 2013
A complex web of relationships between different Ministries shapes the cultural policy landscape in Greece. Apart from the Ministry of Culture and Tourism, responsibilities for specific areas of latu sensu cultural policy belong, among others, to the Ministry of Education, Lifelong Learning and Religious Affairs, the State Minister responsible for media, and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Significant regional cultural development funds from European Union sources are administered by the Ministry of the Economy, by the Ministry of the Interior, or by regional and local government through the regional operational programmes they administer.
The Ministry of Culture and Tourism and its agencies have set up or participate in a number of inter-ministerial committees or joint programmes:
- support for modern Greek studies abroad is an area of interdepartmental co-operation, run by an inter-ministerial committee between the Ministry of Education, Lifelong Learning and Religious Affairs, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and the Ministry of Culture and Tourism, and involving also the General Secretariat of Greeks Abroad and the Hellenic Foundation for Culture;
- there has been cooperation with the Ministry of Rural Development and Food and the Municipality of Koroni in the framework of joint efforts with Spain, Italy and Morocco to include the Mediterranean Diet in the UNESCO´s list of Intangible Heritage;
- the cultural heritage digitisation programmes are funded by the Digital Convergence initiative of the Ministry of the Economy;
- supervision of arms-length organisations, such as the Unification of the Archaeological Sites of Athens SA lies under joint responsibility with the Ministry of the Environment, Energy and Climate Change; and
- there is co-operation with the Department of Planning on architectural and urban conservation and cultural landscape projects (e.g., Rhamnous, Patmos).
- issues related to international conventions, such as the Council of Europe's European Convention for the protection of audiovisual heritage are managed in co-operation with the General Secretariat for Communication.
Last update: October, 2013
There has not been a direct re-allocation of public responsibilities for culture to the private sector; there are, however, clear signs of disinvestiture in culture by the state, due to the austerity programmes currently in operation. The Greek approach to decentralisation / privatisation has been based mostly on the implicit transfer of funding and operational responsibilities for arts development to regional and local government; in fact, except for works in archaeological sites and museums, which remain under the direct control of the Ministry exercised through the archaeological service, most other construction works and operational programmes relating to culture (such as the organisation of festivals) are now controlled and funded by regional administration and local government.
On the contrary, with only a few exceptions, in the interest of rationalisation the role of organisations operating under an arm's length principle has been diminished, indicating a trend towards re-centralisation.
Information is currently not available.
Last update: October, 2013
While the current cultural model trends favour re-centralisation, there is still an important role for some organisations operating, formally and to some extent also in practice, under the arms-length principle in specific fields, especially publishing and film. Sectoral organisations, such as the National Book Centre and the Greek Film Centre are controlled by the state through the direct appointment of their Board of Directors by the Minister of Culture, but receive a separate budget which they can manage according to their established goals and action plan. Local arts organisations are typically established by municipalities, and receive funding by both the local government and the Ministry of Culture, under a matching funds principle, which they spend according to the terms of tripartite programmatic agreements; their Boards are appointed by the local government authority, with the exception of one non-executive Director appointed by the Ministry of Culture. Most of these organisations have the status of companies or foundations in private law, which affords them relative flexibility in staffing, financial management and operations.
Several archaeological museums and art galleries of special status have increased autonomy from the central service of the Ministry of Culture, although they are still staffed by Ministry officials and receive their budget from the state. This status allows them to have their own budget and specialised staff, to engage in their own planning and programming and, in exceptional cases (such as the new Acropolis Museum) to manage funds derived from own sales and ticketing revenues.
Private patronage in the arts has had a significant impact on Greek cultural development during the last quarter century, consisting both in the establishment of new institutions and in the provision of essential support for large scale cultural events. The Benaki Museum, a private foundation with its own endowment receiving also a statutory state subsidy, has grown from a single site "cabinet of curiosities" to a multi-site museum complex including a general "diachronic" museum of Greek art (the only one of its kind), a major exhibition and congress facility in its new Peiraios site, the N. Hadjicyriacos Gikas gallery, an Islamic art museum and a museum for children’s toys, as well as an important historical archive. Other notable examples of institutions established with private patronage include the Goulandris Museum of Natural History, the Cycladic Art Museum, the DESTE Foundation of Contemporary Art, the Goulandris Museum of Modern Art on the island of Andros, and the Foundation of the Hellenic World. The State Museum of Contemporary Art was established in Thessaloniki following the state acquisition of the private Kostakis collection, a very important early art collection of Russian futurism.
The most notable example of private-public co-operation so far concerns the Athens Concert Hall. The initiative and initial funds of the Society of the Friends of Music, an association of affluent supporters of classical music, led, after two decades of effort, to the establishment of the Athens Concert Hall. It has been the first facility providing state-of-the-art conditions for the performance and recording of concert music in Greece, and its recently built congress centre is a focus for a host of literary and cultural events. The Athens Concert Hall has been established as an independent foundation, with members of the Board of Directors appointed both by the state and by the Society of the Friends of Music. Its yearly programme is supported by state subsidy. A Concert Hall was established in Thessaloniki in 2000 and operates along similar lines.
The Stavros Niarchos Foundation Cultural Centre, currently under construction, is expected to emerge in 2015 as the fruit of a major new public-private partnership of this kind. It will consist of a new sustainable arts, education and recreation complex to be hosted in a new building designed by notable Italian architect Renzo Piano, and including, notably, the new building of the National Library of Greece, as well as a world-class opera house to host the Greek National Opera.
Nevertheless, these initiatives and partnerships have been established as the result of the commitment by individuals - people working for the Ministry of Culture who saw an opportunity to support a good cause, or patrons who had a collection or asset and wished to make it available to the public - and not as the outcome of an established policy. Recent legislation on private art collections and museums makes an effort to regulate more consistently the terms under which these collections and museums are established, run and supported by the state; it is still unclear what impact it will have on patronage and co-operation between donors and the state. The recent Cultural Sponsorship Law (Law 3525/2007) established a centralised sponsorship bureau in the Ministry of Culture and Tourism, to which all plans should be submitted for approval; predictably, while some tax exemptions were reinstated through this law and related administrative acts, the impact on new alliances between cultural organisations and companies willing to support the arts as part of their sponsorship or corporate social responsibility policies has been so far disappointing, as witnessed by approved sponsorship barely exceeding a yearly contribution of 1 million EUR.
Last update: October, 2013
Since 2000, responsibility for foreign cultural relations has been transferred from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to the Ministry of Culture. This concerns all major issues in bilateral cultural relations, such as the campaign for the restitution of the Parthenon Marbles.
Nevertheless, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, as well as the Ministry of Education, Life Long Learning and Religious Affairs, are involved together with the Ministry of Culture and Tourism in running the large number of bilateral cultural agreements and programmes, providing a framework for some actions in international cultural relations (mainly scholarships and exchange of cultural professionals). Recently, however, there have been several developments limiting the effectiveness of such agreements that have led to the emergence of new forms of cultural co-operation such as the gradual dis-investiture from culture and the arts in many countries, and, in the absence of local state funding, the emergence of diverse co-operation and funding opportunities, notably from the European Union.
In the framework of the Ministry of Culture's efforts to enhance intercultural cooperation, the project "Crossroads of Culture" was put in place in 2010, aiming at developing a series of activities in Thessaloniki together with the city's cultural organisations in order to raise the city's cultural profile and openness to different cultures. A country or region is celebrated every year, namely: 2011: Middle East, 2012: South-east Europe, 2013: China, 2014: Russia (Greece- Russia Year), 2015: United States of America
The Hellenic Foundation for Culture, working through a network of branches in Alexandria, Odessa and Berlin, offices in London and Washington DC, and smaller offices in Belgrade, Bucharest, Sofia, Trieste, Melbourne and Tirana, operates under the supervision of the Ministry of Culture and Tourism. It is active in organising events aimed at promoting Greek language, literature, art and culture abroad; in producing publications that serve this same goal; and, increasingly, in monitoring, evaluating and coordinating the teaching of Modern Greek abroad.
The National Book Centre of Greece, a private non-profit legal entity established in 1995 and reporting to the Ministry of Culture, implements the national policy to promote books and reading, takes numerous initiatives and actions and runs special programmes to bolster the book sector overall and all key players in the chain leading to the creation of books (authors, translators, illustrators, editors, publishers, typographers, booksellers, librarians, literary agents, critics and of course readers). A Books Observatory has been established to record developments in the sector and through various programmes supports the promotion and marketing of Greek books abroad (for example through the Frasis project, a translation funding programme).
The Greek Film Centre supports the participation of Greek movies at film festivals abroad and organises foreign film festivals in Greece based on bilateral agreements or proposals from different embassies. A number of international film co-productions have been initiated, aided by the relevant provisions of privileged status by Law 3004/1976. Greek film co-productions are supported by the Eurimages Council of Europe programme, and by the MEDIA programme of the European Commission.
The European Cultural Centre of Delphi, a "corporate body under private law" under the supervision of the Hellenic Ministry of Culture and the auspices of the Council of Europe, serves international cultural interests and develops common cultural principles that unite the peoples of Europe through the publication of studies on European culture, the organisation of cultural assemblies and other artistic activities.
Last update: October, 2013
Greece is a member of UNESCO, the Council of Europe and the European Union, and a signatory of most international agreements and declarations in the field of culture. It is also a member of the Francophonie organisation, by virtue of the strong cultural links established between Greece and France since the late 19th century.
Greece actively participates in cultural co-operation programmes with a strong European, South-East European or Mediterranean dimension. During the last decades, it has played an active role in policy-oriented international co-operation.
Among multilateral actions driven by the Ministry of Culture, there is an emphasis in regional co-operation programmes in the European, Mediterranean, Adriatic, SE European or Black Sea areas, co-sponsored or financially supported by the European Union or the Council of Europe (under multilateral co-operation schemes).
The Ministry of Culture is the official authority responsible for the implementation and monitoring of the UNESCO Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions.
The 2nd Delphi Forum for Intercultural Dialogue, Sustainable Development, Cultural Tourism and European Integration (Delphi, 17-18 April 2010) resulted in the signing of a tripartite agreement between the Greek Government (Ministry of Culture and Tourism), the Government of the Luxembourg (Ministry of Culture) and the European Institute of Cultural Routes supporting actions in relation to the Cultural Routes of the Council of Europe. Both governments committed themselves to supporting financially the operational costs of the Institute for Cultural Routes as well as different projects according to the defined priorities.
Last update: October, 2013
Organisations operating under the arms-length principle are active in the field of international cultural co-operation, in fields as diverse as the organisation of cultural events and festivals, the translation of literary works, the diffusion of the Greek language, and cultural heritage preservation, e.g. European Cultural Centre of Delphi, the Hellenic Foundation for Culture, the National Centre for the Book, and the European Centre of Byzantine Monuments. Independent not-for-profit foundations such as the Alexandros A. Onassis Foundation, and some large private companies, have also been active in financially supporting international cultural exchange events, such as blockbuster travelling exhibitions, concerts and festivals.
One hundred and forty six cultural institutions and organisations working in the fields of education, youth, arts, environment, human rights, democracy research and cultural heritage are members of the Greek Network of the Anna Lindh Foundation coordinated by the Hellenic Foundation for Culture that offers access to cooperation with other partners in the EuroMed area. Moreover different organisations form part of European cultural networks such as IETM, European Festivals Association, ENCATC, etc.
The Directorate of Music of the Ministry of Culture participates at the WOMEX exhibition dedicated to world music while supporting the participation of Greek groups and artists in it. The next WOMEX is going to take place in autumn 2012 in Thessaloniki.