Open Event on Culture
06 February 2020

More than 500 people gathered in Athens to discuss the critical importance of access to cultural resources.

It’s the oxygen we breathe. It gives rhythm to our hearts and form to our thoughts.

It is the thread that binds us together, tying past to present and present to future. The Stavros Niarchos Foundation (SNF) sees access to cultural resources as a fundamental necessity for everyone, especially young people.

SNF’s grantmaking acts on this belief. Culture is the focus of one of the four fundamental pillars of the Foundation’s philanthropic efforts, which actively complement the work of the Ministry of Culture and Sports. These efforts are not limited to one field, but are directed toward a wide diversity of different organizations, projects, goals and—most importantly—people.

These people and projects were at the heart of a discussion held at the worksite of the Greek National Gallery in Athens, on Wednesday, February 5, 2020. The event, hosted by Greek Minister of Culture and Sports Lina Mendoni and SNF Co-President Andreas Dracopoulos, touched on ongoing and completed SNF grants in the cultural sphere and engaged the audience in the conversation.

The discussion featured Renzo Piano, architect of the Stavros Niarchos Foundation Cultural Center (SNFCC); Giorgos Koumendakis, Artistic Director of the Greek National Opera (GNO); Marina Lambraki-Plaka, Director of the National Gallery; Haris Siabanis, CEO of the Benaki Museum; and Yiannis Boutaris, inaugural President of the Holocaust Museum of Greece in Thessaloniki. A variety of other participants shared their stories about drawing inspiration from—and inspiring—cultural projects.

A message shared five years ago in the SNFCC guestbook by Kimonas, a student from the Music School of Pallini, sparked a grant from SNF that provided more than a thousand instruments to music schools across Greece. Giorgos and Pantelis, after participating in the Schoolwave student music festival, later went on to light up the stage at the GNO with a rock star performance. Vaggelis talked about how taking part in the paid internship program at the SNFCC, supported by the SNF, opened up new horizons and new job opportunities.

In closing the event, SNF Co-President Andreas Dracopoulos said, “Something that I am definitely going to remember from today’s conversation—and I think I speak on behalf of all of us—is that culture is not something static, it is something dynamic that is ever changing and evolving together with us, with transformative power and multiplying benefits. It is the permanent exhibition at the National Gallery, but it is also a heavy metal cover of one of Hatzidakis’s songs performed at the Greek National Opera. Culture, after all, does not conform to stereotypes. And, in turn, we at SNF are here to support it; to give as many people as possible the opportunity to come into contact with its different manifestations, not only a few art lovers, but to everyone. Of course, the discussion on culture does not end here today—we continue it all together each and every day.”