Friday, June 8, 2012

Meeting the New Minister of Culture and Tourism and the CIG Colloquium is in Sight

Since the inclusive national elections held on May 6th the affairs of Greece are in the hands of the “caretaker government” of Prime Minister Panagiotis Pikrammenos. His Ministers have not been just sitting in their offices, however, just waiting until the next round of national elections on June 17th. They have been out and about attempting to encourage the civil servants to continue to work hard and to exhort their fellow citizens to support their country in these most trying times. The new Minister of Culture and Tourism, Ms. Tatiana Karapanagioti, has been active as well. On Monday evening, the 4th, she invited the directors of the 17 foreign archaeological schools and institutes to the veranda off her spacious office on the 5th floor of the Ministry on Odos Bouboulinas, behind the National Museum. There, along with the General Secretary of the Ministry, Dr. Lina Mendoni, the General Director, Dr. Maria Vlasaki and the Directors of the core units of the Hellenic Archaeological Service, she introduced herself and stressed the importance of the research, the economic contributions through much of Greece and the dissemination of knowledge relating to Hellenism in its broadest conceptualization that the foreign schools and their members contribute to contemporary Greek culture and to the Greek economy year in and year out. Further, Minister Karapanagioti wanted us to convey to both the friends of Greece and to potential visitors that Greece is working hard to deal with the challenges it is facing.

The Minister is a noted photographer. Her company is a producer of investigative reportage as well as documentaries that often focus on archaeological topics.

What my colleagues and I had expected, a short formal meeting with a specific, set agenda, was not, in fact, the case. Rather, it was an open, informal gathering with the Minister and her associates talking with each of us individually and in small groups on a wide range of topics of mutual concern and interest. I had the opportunity to discuss with her the potential benefits to a down-sized Hellenic Archaeological Service of permitting private Cultural Resource Management firms to undertake efficiently the requisite documentation of archaeological resources in areas to be developed under “fast-track” permits designed to promote economic growth.

Thus, on this first, hot evening of summer there was so much to discuss and to share that it lasted for over 3 hours! This event was written up in the local online media as well: When the new government is formed I am certain that the foreign school directors would hope for another such opportunity to meet the new minister at her/his earliest possible convenience.

CIG Colloquium in Memory of Professor Emeritus Frederick Winter
It is just two weeks until the two-day Colloquium we have organized on Greek architecture in memory of Professor Frederick E. Winter (Department of Art, University of Toronto) begins. The program for the 22nd and the 23rd at the Italian School at Athens in Makriyianni is varied and interesting. The keynote paper of Dr. Rune Frederiksen, the Director of the Danish Institute at Athens, will demonstrate the importance of Professor Winter’s writings on Greek fortifications on our knowledge of these very visible ancient remains and how he shaped the scholarly discourse on them. There is plenty of “Canadian content” as many of papers will discuss architectural remains uncovered at sites that are being excavated or surveyed under the aegis of a permit from the Ministry obtained through the Institute. Others are given by professors at Canadian universities. Professor Winter’s daughter, Mary, will share her thoughts on her father’s career and life. The program on Friday, the 22nd, begins at 3:00 pm and that on Saturday, the 23rd, at 9:00 am. The public is welcome.

David Rupp

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