A full research day for both of us. Andy spends time in the ZPC working on new archival material, promotion for the public communication of our work, articles for newspapers and subsequently visits the archaeological site in Athens. Despite it being summer and Games week, it is relatively empty. Beatriz has to go through a real marathon of interviews at the Hellenic Culture Organisation (HCO) headquarters. This is the group in charge of the Cultural Olympiad on behalf of the Hellenic Ministry of Culture. The meetings start at 1pm and do not finish until practically 6pm. She receives great support from Takis Panagiotopoulos, HCO president advisor.
The first meeting is with Amaryllis Frangou, the director of communication. She is a very straight forward person who offers very useful information about the evolution of the Cultural Olympiad marketing and promotional campaigns. She shows videos of the Cultural Olympiad TV campaign from 2002 onwards. It is also helpful to learn about the progress of the logo and the notion of a ‘brand’ that is supposed to survive the end of the Games and become established as a permanent Cultural Foundation with a base in Greece.
The next interview is with Liza Tsaliki, director of international collaborations. It is excellent to meet her and it will be definitely be worth keeping in touch. She has an academic background in cultural and media studies and is good friends with Prof. Neil Blain from Paisley University in Glasgow, who happens to be the head of Andy’s school. The interview provides detailed information about the Olympiad wider (and complex!) political context and the difficulties in securing a broad international projection.
An unexpected meeting with Elias Vergidis, manager of the new Athens Culture Guide, proves very useful as well. The Guide is rapidly becoming a key reference point of Athens cultural agenda. It is by far the best guide to get an impression of the wide range of cultural activity happening in Athens during the Olympics, including not only ATHOC and Municipality cultural activities, but also the Cultural Olympiad, the Hellenic festival programme and a range of alternative offerings. The guide is supported by the HCO and has been set as a long term project.
The final meeting is with George Liontos, director of the ‘department of programme realization’, that is, the man in charge of cultural programming. He is a rather authoritative man, with a far reaching experience at the Ministry of Culture. He has a very good insight of the evolution of the Cultural Olympiad since its original inception in 1998 and is also well aware of the difficulties in confirming certain acts and responding to the very ambitious design of the Olympiad during the four years it has lasted. He offers a magnificent selection of Cultural Olympiad publications. These include several hard-back (and extremely heavy!) exhibition catalogues with great photographs, which are, indeed, extremely valuable additions to our Olympic culture library collection.