Reimagining Public Space: The Stavros Niarchos Foundation-Lincoln Center Agora Initiative

The Stavros Niarchos Foundation-Lincoln Center (SNF-LC) Agora Initiative is a collaboration between the Stavros Niarchos Foundation (SNF) and Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts to reactivate and reimagine public space in the COVID-19 era and beyond. 

Part of SNF’s $100 million global COVID-19 relief initiative, the effort creates an axis of artistic and cultural exchange between Lincoln Center in New York City and the Stavros Niarchos Foundation Cultural Center (SNFCC) in Athens, Greece.

Through the grant, Lincoln Center’s iconic 16-acre Manhattan campus serves as an “agora,” a public gathering place at the center of civic life, through artistic and community activations. A desire to give Athens a similar space, one that truly belongs to the public, guided SNF in creating the SNFCC through its largest grant to date and in giving it over to the people of Greece in 2017.

SNF is dedicated to fostering the vibrancy of civic life, from widely shared access to stellar arts programming, to open dialogue across divides, to informed democratic engagement. Public space is the physical infrastructure for all of this and, to be effective, it must be thoughtfully activated, especially through the challenges posed by the pandemic. Bringing Lincoln Center and the SNFCC’s deep and varied expertise together around a shared vision allows benefits of the collaboration to flow in both directions across the Atlantic, creating “Twin Agoras.”

“The pandemic has underscored two fundamental realities about public space,” said SNF Co-President Andreas Dracopoulos, “how vital public space—especially outdoor public space—is to civic life, and how readily geographic distance can be collapsed through the power of technology and collaboration. SNF truly believes in this collaboration for the same simple reason we believe in the value of these public agoras: when you bring people with great ideas together, what comes out is greater than the sum of the parts. We can’t wait to see what the Stavros Niarchos Foundation-Lincoln Center (SNF-LC) Agora Initiative brings to life.”

“This year has reinvigorated our commitment to the arts as central to civic dialogue and engagement. We’ve used our 16-acre campus as never before – finding new creativity and space for artists to address some of the pressing issues of our moment,” said Henry Timms, President and CEO of Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts. “Dialogue, exchange, and collaboration is at the heart of so much of the art that changes ourselves and our world for the better. We are truly grateful to be working so closely with our colleagues at SNF and look forward to bringing this initiative into the public realm.”

“Through this partnership, we aim to learn from each other, enrich our programming through our shared initiatives, and nurture an ongoing dialogue between our Twin Agoras. We are grateful to the Stavros Niarchos Foundation for envisioning and enabling this opportunity and for its continued support to the SNFCC,” said Elly Andriopoulou, Managing Director of the SNFCC.

As part of the Twin Agoras, the two institutions are providing artists, thinkers, and creative professionals with the space to create new work that responds dynamically to current events, to foster the exchange of ideas, as well as to experiment and investigate the notion of mirroring events and sparking conversations across continents.

Learn more about SNF-LC programming:
-Lincoln Center Launches Outdoor Civic Hub and Announces Transformation of its Space as Part of SNF-LC Agora Initiative
-Lincoln Center Announces Transatlantic Faces of the Hero Public Arts Collaboration through SNF-LC Initiative
-You Are Here, a Lincoln Center Commission through the SNF-LC Agora Initiative, Mirrors Return to Live Experiences in NYC
-Free Live Music Returns to Lincoln Center