In 2020 we presented the inaugural Athens Burns Bright Cultural Ecology tour of Athens. Participants from Australia, US, France, and Singapore met and talked with Athenian artists, curators, producers and heads of leading cultural institutions, farm to table food specialists, new café owners, and social enterprise developers. They were immersed in all aspects of a re-emergent; post Financial Crisis, Athens’ cultural ecology. There are exciting and creative developments in this ancient and regenerating city.
This unique opportunity for professional development charted the rise of new social and creative enterprises that cross over arts, food, politics, economics and life. It is also an historic illumination as participants learnt from a city that sparked Western Civilization and is still a crossroads of East and West.
Athens Burns Bright 19 was so successful we ran it again. We invited creative and performance producers, artists, curators, community and cultural activists, thinkers, policy specialists, writers, small business and start-up specialists to participate in a five-day creative and cultural research tour of Athens in March 2020.
Participants immersed themselves in Athens’ creative ecology as the city emerged out of the ten-year financial crisis. There are many green shoots in the cultural ecology of Athens. This was an historic moment to be present in this creative revolution.
There is a rise of new creative and performance narratives and their impact on the city as a renewing and critical force. Equally we looked at the demographic, social, political and economic developments in a post-crisis scenario. Ultimately we love Athens and wanted to share the experience.
Athens is ancient, modern, creative, exhilarating, intense, political and hedonistic. Artists, activists, institutions, communities, entrepreneurs and restaurateurs from within Greece, and across the world are now being pulled into Athens. We met as many of them as we could in five days. Also we wanted to facilitate the exploration of future collaborative programs.
Over five days we looked at contemporary programs such as; Mind the Fact Festival, and explored alternative music venues like the collective at Embros Theater – model of self-management art house, located in an abandoned former historical place, now open for performance, music, live art and contemporary dance. We also met key figures and venues in institutions such as, the National Theatre of Greece, the Benaki Museum and the new major cultural centres; Onassis Cultural Centre 'Stegi' and The Stavros Niarchos Foundation Cultural Centre. The program included a tour of Athens’ outstanding street art and a curated visit to the wonderful New Acropolis Museum, the ancient theatre Odeon of Herodes Atticus and other ancient institutions.
We learnt from and enjoyed the development of new creative and culinary culture, live performance, intense discussion, and visited spaces that make Athens one of the most dynamic cities in the world. This was a study in contrasts – a narrative encompassing resilience, eternal history, globalisation, socioeconomic change, gentrification, and cultural change. It was a contemporary journey into an ancient city and a centre of civilisation.
Who are we? Fotis Kapetopoulos is the director Kape Communications Pty Ltd, a writer and Digital Strategy Consultant for Neos Kosmos, Australia’s leading Greek-Australian media outlet, and Barbara Dukas is a leading theatre director, the former collaborator of the National Theatre of Greece and the current Artistic Director at Municipal and Regional Theatre of Corfu. Our friend Vallejo Gantner, a founding member of the tour, former artistic director of PS122 in New York, and the recently appointed artistic director of the Onassis Foundation USA based in New York, as special guest.
For more information on this rare learning experience, please contact me on fotis[at]kape.com.au, or +61 3 9486 2770.
Kape Communications Pty Ltd