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Summer 2016

Beyond Athens

In 2016, the Conference traveled outside Athens for the first time, to Thessaloniki, a cosmopolitan setting in Northern Greece that reflected both the global scope of the Conference and its specific focus that year on philanthropic activity in the Mediterranean and Southeastern Europe.

This fifth Annual SNF International Conference on Philanthropy, as it was then known, examined the diverse and ongoing geopolitical challenges of Southeastern Europe. The Mediterranean in Crisis: Seeking Global Solutions to Critical Regional and Local Issues featured a cross-disciplinary program of expert discussions, broaching topics from cultural heritage to health systems, the strength of democracy, and the role of the arts in conflict-torn areas. A film screening with its creators and a performance by a youth symphony orchestra added depth of field.

2016 Conference
2016 Conference
When we say art for our sake it doesn't mean necessarily some kind of rarified aristocratic thing, it is simply that to dream itself is a kind of freedom.
Robert Storr, Yale School of Art

The SNFCC throws open its doors

By 2016, construction on all of the Stavros Niarchos Foundation Cultural Center’s (SNFCC) spaces was complete and the surrounding landscape had completely transformed. A cultural happening entitled “Metamorphosis: The SNFCC to the World” invited the public to explore the SNFCC we know and love today—a space open, accessible, and welcoming to all—and hosted artists from all over the world. The program of events included guided tours, concerts, art installations and performances and, of course, the SNF Run.

Metamorphosis: Το ΚΠΙΣΝ στον Κόσμο. 2016
Metamorphosis: Το ΚΠΙΣΝ στον Κόσμο. 2016

Summer 2015

Sustainability in focus

The fourth Annual SNF International Conference on Philanthropy—as it was called back then—tackled the topic of Philanthropy and Sustainability, understood in two distinct senses: How can philanthropy help advance environmental sustainability efforts in communities, in food systems, in social welfare frameworks? And what do sustainable philanthropic thinking and grantmaking look like?

To help sustain and extend the important work achieved by grantee-partners addressing the effects of Greece’s painful socioeconomic crisis, SNF Co-President Andreas Dracopoulos announced an additional €100+ million grant to the same end.

In parallel, the public got a look at sustainable design in action as the Stavros Niarchos Foundation Cultural Center (SNFCC) rose in Athens.

2015 Conference
2015 Conference
Sustainability, whether for the environment, the economy or our communities is at its core an ethics concept. Because it requires us to attend not only to our own needs but also to the need of future generations.
Ruth Faden, Johns Hopkins University

What would become an indelible link between the Conference and the SNFCC began in 2015 with a program of offerings at the still-under-construction cultural center with something for everyone—the precursor of what would eventually evolve into SNF Nostos.

For the first time, Stavros Niarchos Park opened its gates and the public could access and enjoy the SNFCC. Events combining music with photography, architecture with the environment, and overnight screenings with art kicked off early in the afternoon and lasted until dawn, through 4 days and nights of events at Stavros Niarchos Park called Light Up the Night.

The first evening run, the SNF Run: Running Towards the Future, organized in collaboration with nonprofit Regeneration & Progress, started at the Panathenaic Stadium and finished at the SNFCC, connecting the center of the city with the new Athenian landmark under construction. A major milestone of the year was the big concert prepared by Dionysis Savvopoulos for the celebration of World Music Day.

SNFestival 2019
SNFestival 2019

Summer 2014

Widening the focus

With contributions from around 90 speakers from Greece and abroad across 20 panel discussions, the third SNF International Conference on Philanthropy, as it was then titled, represented an increasingly broad and ambitious iteration of the event that appealed to a wider range of attendees. It focused on three key themes, distinct from one another but all related to grantmaking:

  • Recharging the Youth: Youth Unemployment and Initiatives to Create New Opportunities for the Young
  • Philanthropy and Ethics
  • Arts & Culture: Creative Assets and their Socioeconomic Impact
2014 Conference
2014 Conference
So the question there is whose ethics should govern? This is a really important ethical issue when the choices of the philanthropic organization are phased crossing societal borders.
Jeffrey Kahn
Johns Hopkins University

Summer 2013

Shifting the social welfare paradigm

The second Annual SNF International Conference on Philanthropy focused on the Role of Philanthropy within a Social Welfare Society. Covering a range of specific areas from health care accessibility to volunteerism to microfinance, the Conference looked, in practical terms, at how philanthropy might be able to best contribute if we reframe from thinking about “social welfare states” to “social welfare societies.” Speakers included economist Anders Åslund, Greek Minister of Tourism Olga Kefalogianni, and Open Society Foundations founder George Soros.

2013 Conference
2013 Conference
On the one hand you try to understand the world, on the other hand you try to change the world, make an impact on the world; the two functions work in opposite directions and they interfere with each other, and this makes the task of understanding human affairs much more difficult than understanding nature.
George Soros
Open Society Foundations

Summer 2012

Convening peers to help address an urgent need

SNF’s first conference, organized in collaboration with the European Foundation Centre, was convened to help answer a very specific question: what role could foundations play to help mitigate the effects of Europe’s ongoing socioeconomic crisis, which had cut particularly deep in Greece? The conference brought together other grantmaking foundations, as well as experts in the field to examine short- and long-term needs using Greece and Southern European countries as case studies.

2012 Conference
2012 Conference
We're in a time of crisis and this is where foundations, companies, entrepreneurship, and innovation really have to come together to provide the answers.
Robin Niblett, Chatham House
Wrapping up – until a new beginning.

In wrapping up the review of the 12 iterations of SNF Nostos that have been organized by the Stavros Niarchos Foundation (SNF), it is evident that there have been many changes. The world of 2012 was a completely different place compared to the world of 2023, when SNF Nostos: Mental Health was organized. The Stavros Niarchos Foundation Cultural Center (SNFCC), which was delivered to the Greek people and the Greek State in 2017, has now been established as a modern landmark in the country, the Global Health Initiative (GHI) was launched, a pandemic shook the world, and mental health began to receive the attention it so rightly deserves. And yet, amidst all these changes, one thing always remained the same. Our rendezvous with Greek and international speakers, organizations and artists, and a very enthusiastic audience, which was never missed. Until the next SNF Nostos, let us indulge in the feeling that has inspired this event over the years, nostalgia, and let us reminisce, always with great pride, on the profound moments we have experienced.

We hope you will all share your favorite moments from the past 12 SNF Nostos events on our social media on Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn.

(*) The credentials of Conference speakers listed here refer to the period of their participation in SNF Nostos and may have changed since then.