EU STRUCTURAL FUNDS AND THEIR IMPACT ON
THE GREEK CASE 1994-2006
This paper examines the impact of EU “Structural
funds” for culture in Greece from 1994 to 2006. During this decade, two
major “Community Support Frameworks” concerning economic and social
development were planned and implemented. Funding for cultural policy
amounted to €1.7 billion, an unprecedented investment for culture in
Greece. Strong political will existed to develop the field of culture.
We investigate: Did the investment fulfil its
declared goals regarding development and social inclusion? In which
direction and to what degree did the investment renew and enrich the
scope of cultural policy?
We observe that the plan was implemented to
fortify a traditional political view of culture. The cultural policy’s
agenda continued to prioritize the conservative values of the dominant
culture. The political choice was the prestige of the nation-state,
based mostly on the promotion of heritage, at the expense of
democratization and participation.
Keywords: Cultural policy, heritage, development,
cohesion, European Structural Funds.
This paper will examine the impact of EU “Structural
Funds” for culture in Greece from 1994 to 2006. During this decade
two major Community Support Frameworks (CSF), concerning the economic
and social development of Greece, were planned and implemented: The 2nd
CSF (1994-2000), €15 billion, and the 3rd CSF (2000-2006), €25
billion. In this framework, funding for cultural policy for the 2nd &
3rd Operational Program for Culture (OPC) amounted to €400 million and
€1.3 billion respectively. In other words, €1.7 billion in total was
spent on culture over the decade. This amounted to an unprecedented
investment for culture in Greece.
As a major part of the eternal criticism concerning
the lack of cultural development revolved around low governmental
budgets, it is important to examine how this budget was used as well its
impact. Our aim is to study the consequences of this investment on the
main directions of Greek cultural policy, to discover if, and to what
extent, it promoted the renewal, strengthening and re-orienting the
country’s traditional cultural policy agenda. For these reasons we
are going to examine the political and cultural plan developed; the
economic, social and cultural aims projected; the priorities chosen as
well as their inter-related goals “within the discursive space of the
cultural field”.(McGuigan 2004: 35)
We will specifically be searching for answers to the
- Did the investment fulfil its declared goals
as described in the general framework of European policy regarding
development and social inclusion?
- Was cultural visibility increased and
positioned better regarding political, social and economic focus?
- Did it open new horizons towards
culture as a tool of sustainable development and social cohesion?
- In which direction and to what degree
did the investment influence cultural policy, renew it, enrich its
goals, enlarge its scope and respect its autonomous tasks?
- To what degree did the investment
reinforce diversity, pluralism, access and participation?
We must point out that such a major investment could
only occur as a result of strong political will to develop the field of
culture in the country. This meant, consequently, the development of an
operational program for cultural policy provided with the necessary
financial means. In this case it is clear that culturally important
structures were greatly reinforced in the name of the wider economic
development, especially in relation to tourism and regional development.
Older structures were renovated and modern ones created. The majority of
the projects planned and constructed were museums, archaeological sites,
large conference and cultural centres during this decade. But what
reasoning was used? Upon which cultural criteria were the central
political choices based in this operational program?
The central political choices demonstrated a
philosophy of traditional cultural policy. The policy’s basic conception
and direction had remained unchanged, exactly as it had been formulated
and functioned over the previous decades. The central idea was to
protect, maintain and display Greece’s cultural heritage by financing
its substructures. Recounting Greece’s ancient culture as the country’s
only advantage provided a short-sited view. Celebrating Classical Greece
exclusively had the practical effect of ignoring any other period of the
country’s history and, most importantly, contemporary Greek culture.
This mind set, which was traditionally related to “tourist attraction”,
provides an important ideological viewpoint of the way cultural policy
grasped basic elements such as, among others, Greekness, Greek history,
contemporary culture, high and popular culture and the relationship
The allocation of the budget was characteristic. 90%
of the budget for the 2nd Operational Program for Culture (2nd OPC) was
spent on protection and display of Greece’s ancient cultural heritage
and the remaining 10% on contemporary culture. In the 3rd OPC, the split
was 64.6%, with 32.4% directed at the development of modern culture.
This last amount was divided into two parts: 18.6% to support the
structures for major cultural communication events (mainly the Cultural
Olympics) and 13.8% to complete metropolitan conference and cultural
centres in Athens and Thessaloniki).
In reality, the traditional cultural model
capitalized on the ancient cultural heritage without the refinements of
creating added value, connecting Greece’s ancient heritage with the
country’s newer cultural capital, new possibilities of development and
new requirements. For the same reason, only relatively tiny amounts went
to non-traditional tourist businesses other than hotel complexes,
supplies and other tourist products. Alternative forms of tourism were
missing with few exceptions. Cultural tourism, networking, technological
innovation, design and experimental art forms are directions that could
have encouraged cultural production, upgraded the quality of tourists
and opened new paths to connect contemporary Greek culture and art.
The Greek cultural model remained a captive to a
“democratic version of elite humanism”. It could not connect
tradition with the present, high with popular culture and re-connect its
political plan on a dynamic of social interaction. The Greek cultural
model segregated the infrastructure from its live audience whose
presence is required to bring life to any building or place.
It doesn’t seem that the two OPCs raised any new
questions. They followed the same conservative, well-worn path of
planning infrastructures to serve cultural heritage with minimum
attention to the possibilities of contemporary culture and art. The
traditional plan of cultural heritage was seen as the exclusive
possibility and never considered or evaluated contemporary culture or
its function as a part of a European perspective. Despite the assumption
that “development in the field of contemporary culture in Greece
demonstrates a relative delay in comparison with other European
countries” and the confirmation that the “goal is the reduction of this
delay” the choices, as mentioned below, demonstrate the opposite. No
initiatives show a similar concern, in contrast with other European
countries that developed, under this same framework, favourable to
contemporary cultural programs.
A further obstacle to the better exploitation of the
dynamics of modern culture and its participation in the development
plans in Greece was its conception. It was conceived solely as the
technical production of tourist goods and services; not as the
fermentation that takes place inside a vibrant society. This ideological
approach deprived the planners of the two OPCs from understanding the
close links between the entire social and cultural environment of the
country, which functions as a space of conflicts but also as a nursery
of innovation, and the services produced for export. Furthermore, they
showed they were more interested in the traditional exploitation of
European funding than developing a creative, lasting cultural policy
that would have helped promote the internal maturation of the country’s
culture as well as the factors of sustainable development.
In this way, the exploitation of contemporary
cultural production remained excluded from the plan. No dialogue with
the various interested social groups was undertaken. Therefore, Greece
missed the opportunity to include many creative energies of the emerging
culture. It also missed the chance to enhance contemporary
culture, enabling new perspectives. There were no innovative
propositions regarding the exploitation of cultural heritage towards new
directions to boost contemporary culture.
Instead of innovation, the dominant and residual
elements of culture were reinforced. As a result, the possibility of
osmosis between ‘official’ and popular culture was reduced, weakening
social inclusion instead of strengthening it, which was one of the main
goals of the CSFs. Culture continued to be perceived only along the deep
divisions “present and past”, “high and popular”. The elite pyramid was
reinforced, convergence could not take place. Neither better access of
the people nor participation was stimulated. Recent research shows that
the majority of Greek citizens have never visited the National
Archaeological Museum (only 27%), the National Gallery (23%) or the
Athens’ Concert Hall (17%).
In conclusion, it is recognized that diversity and
pluralism did not find, in this case, fertile ground in the European
funds. In the name of the cultural heritage only few contemporary, large
infrastructures were realized and these were only aimed at the middle
and upper classes: economically stable, socially favoured audiences; the
same audiences that take advantage of government subsidized tickets for
public and private artistic events of high prestige foundations.
Analysis of financial data and cultural choices
The European Fund intervention in the field of
culture, and particularly the relationship between culture and economic
and social development began in 1994. A wider plan for tourism was
provided during the development of the 2nd CSF, part of which was
earmarked for culture. At this point, an operational program was
developed under the name “Tourism-Culture”. This meant that “culture was
funded only if it was related to tourism, contributing to local and
national development”.(Pachaki 2000) However, a special
sub-program for culture was formulated.
This was “a first attempt to formulate a co-funded
structural intervention by the EU in the field of culture on a national
level”. Nevertheless, we question the intervention’s structural nature.
Most importantly, the actions undertaken were not autonomous but
considered to be part of a greater tourist plan. This disadvantage was
multiplied by its myopic relation with cultural heritage, the trend to
develop building infrastructure without a complete functional plan
taking the public into consideration, and the lack of a thorough study
of the country’s complex cultural reality.
In the initial planning stages, critics focused on
connecting tourism and culture, subordinating culture to tourism. The
Ministry of Economy and Finance that played a central role in the
planning of the entire 2nd CSF, claimed that due to EU technical
specifications, the connection between tourism and culture was a
necessary evil and thus rejected responsibility. This argument was only
partially true, according the EU rules. In any case, it was accepted by
the political leadership and the bureaucrats in the Ministry of Culture,
which didn’t have enough political power and technical knowledge to
Sand in the political wheels and public
administration systems created more obstacles for the independent
cultural plan. In the end it was assumed that culture, even if
strongly dependent upon tourism, would receive major support as a result
of the 278 cultural projects included in the plan. Apart from political
leadership of the Ministry of Culture and the civil servants, opposition
was also expressed by the intelligentsia, artists and the press.
Financing approximately €400 million for public works to support tourist
services rather than restructure the field of culture provoked reaction.
At that time no one suspected that the same direction would be
maintained into the future with the 3rd CSF. Because, while the 3rd CSF
was autonomous as an operational program, it followed the same thought
patterns, verifying the rule of “path dependence” theory. From then on,
no political or cultural agents were able to take advantage of
“political windows” to change the path and create an autonomous cultural
policy. (Tsakatika 2004)
The projects included in the 2nd OPC were related to
cultural heritage (i.e. museum construction and renovation, maintenance
and display of archaeological sites and monuments) with only crumbs for
popular culture. Only five contemporary culture projects were included
with a €15 million total budget. Only €1 in 9 of the European Regional
Development Fund was spent on contemporary culture.
Despite this, the country never before had the
opportunity to make such an investment in Culture with a long termed,
well-developed (from a technocratic point of view) and reliable
operational program. In comparison, the Greek Ministry’s of Culture
public investment ran from €4 to 12 million annually from1990-96, a sum
that hardly compares to the EU budget. This was the first time the Greek
Ministry of Culture successfully managed such a vast sum. A hundred per
cent (100%) of the funds were absorbed. (Mendoni 2006)
What was the result, regarding cultural policy? This
is the central question to which we must respond. According the official
proposal, the 2nd CSF aimed to “support and improve the tourist product
and reinforce the economy by upgrading the exploitation, and use of
modern management in cultural infrastructures and activities.”
That means accepting tourism as the basic, economic
sector of the country, and culture as a supporting agent. An autonomous
cultural policy with its own targets was not selected. Therefore, one
finds culture simply serving the needs of tourism instead of the other
way around. This was a huge trap. While the first direction could have
lead towards a dynamic relationship between culture and regional
economic development, urban regeneration, cultural economy and
technology, the second direction subordinated cultural goals to the
profit of tourism and only to the most traditional version of the
tourist product, without searching for innovation or alternative
Certainly, internal political realignments and
Ministerial changes impeded some attempts to broaden the scope, such as
the “Cultural Cities Network”, a plan that emphasized contemporary
culture by networking cities all over the country. It was rejected
following a change of Ministers although it required only a relatively
small part of the budget.
The projects in the Operational Program that were
adapted, among others, were the unification of Athens’
archaeological sites, the restoration of the Acropolis, Museums,
monuments as well as the conference centres and the concert halls of
Athens and Thessaloniki. The great bulk of the OPC was directed at
Athens and Thessaloniki, Greece’s two major cities. 45% was distributed
in the region of Attica (Athens), 29% in central Macedonia
(Thessaloniki), and six other regions participated with only 1-2%.
The 191 projects of the Regional Operational Program
were relatively more balanced in terms of geographical distribution, but
90% of these concerned cultural heritage and only 10% were directed at
Finally, minimal action was financed for information
technology in culture. The results were judged ‘meagre’ by the
evaluators. They noted the work was in the nature of research and "did
not provide completely applicable results". The final assessment of the
OPC by those involved is characteristic: “Deductively, the total
intervention of the 2nd CSF 1994-99 is estimated to positively influence
only a small sector of the cultural potential of the country”. This
indicated the plan’s negative evaluation. One would expect the adoption
of new ideas and a broader perspective in the 3rd CSF.
One would have expected that the precious experience
of the 2nd CSF and the interplay between politicians, the
intelligentsia, artists, managers, organizers, local governments and
civil society, would have assisted in drawing up the goals of the more
ambitious 3rd CSF’s Cultural Operational Program. As the budget was more
than three times that of the previous Program, the expectations were
This did not happen. Substantially, the same,
conservative approach was followed for the 3rd CSF, except it was
detached from tourism and organized as an autonomous program. This
segregation “recognized the self-reliant role culture could play as a
field of economic activity in the economic and social development of the
country”.(Pachaki 2000) But how culture can be considered self-reliant
without a public debate on the renovation of cultural policy’s agenda.
This remains the major question.
Without a dialogue and new goals, cultural policy
remained directed in the previous decade’s approach that connected
national prestige only with ancient and high culture, ignoring the new
conditions of culture production and underestimating contemporary
culture and participation. Working in this direction, it was natural to
increase inequalities. Few new opportunities for the underprivileged
were produced. Little interaction with other cultures was promoted or
produced. It must emphasised that approximately ten percent of the
population were immigrants at this time.
The 3rd CSF projects concerned the unification of the
archaeological sites of Athens, the new Acropolis Museum, the
maintenance and renovation of 120 archaeological sites and monuments,
studies for intervention in 35 museums, 14 new infrastructure projects
were concerned with modern culture: the Athens and Thessaloniki
Conference and Cultural Centres, the Veria cultural centre, the Chania
Centre for Mediterranean Architecture, the Municipal Theatre in Mytilene,
the Larissa Municipal Art Gallery. Out of 266 3rd OPC projects, 57
concern museums, and 173 archaeological sites and monuments. Also, the
great majority of the regional projects planned and executed concerned
Despite this one-sidedness, there were real
improvements in the OPC. These included greater de-centralization,
increased use of information technology and connection to employment.
However, modern, “daily life” culture, especially of the underprivileged
regions and society’s weakest social groups, continued to be victimized
by the approach. Young people, women, children, subcultures, and
experimental artists were ignored. On the contrary, as the large
projects improved the already upgraded major cities and their privileged
parts, the lack of regional and peripheral improvement became more
obvious. This is eloquently illustrated by the urban dissemination of
The entire OPC, cost €1.3 billion: €675.4 million for
the main Operational Program and another €500 million for 13
Regional Operational Programs, €110 million for the “Information
Society” Program, €53 million for “Professional Training and Employment”
Program and €50 million for EU initiatives and other operational
The main goals of the OPC as described in its
introduction are “the basic condition for a country’s complete
development is the maintenance and enhancement of its particular
cultural physiognomy. At the same time, cultural product is exploited in
multiple directions as a tool of economic cohesion and to reduce social
exclusion, while creating added value and employment.”
A series of parameters are obviously missing from the
above thinking. These should have been the cultural starting point for
these political and social interventions and have direct relationship
with planning and implementing a cultural policy: diversity, pluralism,
access and participation.
Despite their lack, let us examine if the parameters
contained in the plan are served by its strategy. What is the strategy
as described in the introduction? “The complete developmental strategy
for the cultural sector seeks to protect and display cultural heritage
and develop contemporary culture. It should also attempt to balance
regional development in the supply and demand of cultural products and
services and take specific market needs and characteristics into
The description of the above strategy underlines the
lack of planning. It describes a strategy with two directions that
seemed so obvious that it doesn’t bother to analyze each separately, or
the relationship between them. Cultural heritage and modern culture are
presumed to be completely separate entities, with no correlation between
them or the outside world. It seems they function completely
autonomously. Regional development is reduced to market laws of supply
and demand. This is, in effect, a lack of strategy.
The program’s fragility undermines its “Prospects in
the culture sector” as described in the OPC’s introduction. In place of
well-thought out arguments, we read slogans like “Culture constitutes
Greece’s comparative advantage. This is the sector that highlights
Greece’s major international position.” Trapped in the universal
emphasis of the country’s cultural heritage, the planners did not bother
to examine the modern flows in the production, distribution and
consumption of cultural services. They also avoided examining the
factors that elaborate a post-industrial economic and cultural model in
connection with other sectors of the economy.
It was unrealistic to accept the ambitious objective
of a 25% increase in museum attendance. It was quickly demonstrated that
this prospect was incorrect with regards to access for both tourists and
natives. This was dramatically demonstrated by the fact public
attendance did not increase as was forecast, but was reduced. The number
of visitors to the Archaeological sites fell from 6.6 million in 2000 to
6.1 million in 2003 and 5.7 million in 2004. Attendance at museums fell
from 2.6 million in 2000, to 1.07million in 2003 and 2.5 in 2004, the
year of the Olympic Games in Greece.
Renovating buildings did not increase museum
attendance. This can only be accomplished with an insistent cultural
policy regarding the function, human factor, programming and the public.
This was not achieved. Despite these problems, several aspects of the
culture sector were linked to research and technological development,
although without serious analysis. The OPC was linked to the operational
programs “Information Society” and “Human Resources”.
The program discusses “creating cultural routes,
increasing attendance, upgrading services and connecting certain
monuments to our daily cultural life.” It also proposes actions to “make
museums more accessible and attractive to wider publics.”
We examined the economic size and attempted to better
understand and interpret the rationales, structure, tasks and vision of
the OPCs within the 2nd (1994-1999) and the 3rd (2000-2006) CSFs.
Our economic and cultural analysis attempts to
understand the way and degree to which the OPCs assisted the country’s
economic development and social cohesion. It also throws light upon its
connection with cultural policy’s strategy and planning.
The theoretical approach of the paper is based on the
admission that under the conditions of the late modernity, the field of
culture requires a new structure in the public space. Our hypothesis is
that public policy functions as a mechanism to interpret the world. It
gradually imposes a worldview which is accepted and, sometime later, is
recognized as ‘real” by the majority of the field’s agents. This
function helps them understand the changes in their environment and
provides a well-rounded relationship with causal interpretations to face
the reality. The same applies to cultural policy. (Muller 2005)
Within this framework an incessant struggle of ideas,
institutional conflicts and power struggles takes place during the
production and circulation of symbolic meanings. These are closely
connected to ideological hegemony and express conflicting points of view
regarding culture in our society. Through conflicts and interactions,
hegemonic and anti-hegemonic ways of thinking, a new equilibrium emerges
that establishes a new hierarchy, which becomes a new hegemony.
(Williams 1981, Geertz 1973, Lewis 2003)
During these hegemonic struggles, the state no longer
intervenes in the old ways using monopolistic ownership of the media or
via control of content (censorship), but by applying public policies.
The State, as a complex institution, structures the character and the
outcomes of conflict. Of course, the struggle for scarce resources
creates the hard core of policy. In the case under examination, these
resources are both the actual EU funds and their symbolic meaning.
We will develop our reflections along this central
axis according to a number of key concepts raised. We will examine the
size and quality of the changes that took place in cultural policy in
Greece during the last decade. The key concepts are: cultural policy,
development, cohesion, heritage and dominant culture.
1. Cultural heritage and tourism = development?
This hypothesis, on which the OPC was based, was the
fundamental principle that motivated the country’s dated developmental
policy. That is to say Greece’s cultural heritage represents its
comparative advantage, and its direct connection to tourism will lead to
development. The insinuation is that it is Greece’s only advantage.
Although this long outdated, post-war axiom was overcome by the
Socialist governments in other economic fields, it was maintained in the
field of culture. As we’ve pointed out, it was not proceeded by a
cultural analysis taking into account the new conditions of production
and consumption, competition in the globalized environment, and internal
and external cultural parameters.
Further, the lack of quantitative and qualitative
research and reliable statistical data led to its adoption as a
familiar, safe model for development. It provided a mechanistic
connection between tourism and cultural heritage. Thus, culture as a
factor of regional social and economic development, was not investigated
in-depth either on a national or international scale. Alternative
perspectives under investigation by other countries were ignored. These
include the post-industrial cultural industry, the application of new
technology in the cultural sector, new services, distance working, small
and medium size enterprises in the sectors of peak, flexible networks of
production and distribution, intelligent marketing, differentiated
products and many other new ideas. (Miller 2002)
Similarly, in a period where synergy between public
and private sectors has been increasingly productive, the EU Structural
Funds’ investment in Greece went almost exclusively towards public use
and management such as archaeological sites and museums. There was no
attempt to reach a balance between the public and private sector.
Ignoring this potential synergy, and the development of modern culture,
considerably downgraded the total effort. The relationship of economic
and social development to Culture was treated as a known, traditional
and automatic task. New elaborations and objectives were needed in light
of the new, prevailing conditions but these were ignored.
2. Social Cohesion
The same happened, more or less, regarding social
cohesion that required more detailed, in-depth research to formulate
suitable proposals. Social cohesion is only mentioned briefly in the
report but without any plans or action. It is characteristic that while,
according to the Greek National Statistical Service, 20% of the
population survives at poverty level (2003), OPC took no action to
assist their situation. Sociological studies and analyses of
population stratification data were not studied. Cultural practices were
not taken into account. Economic, social and educational status was
never connected to cultural behaviour of the population. (West 2005)
The result was that many less advantaged social
groups were not taken into consideration in the cultural analysis within
the scope of the plan. But, wasn’t social cohesion and inclusion two of
the main aims of the Structural Funds? (Featherstone 2003)
The Prime Minister at the time, Costas Simitis,
referred to the policy for social cohesion as: “The creation of a more
powerful and more interdependent society is the result of a coordinated
policy….from taxation to culture, from social insurance to
education.”(Simitis 2005) It would appear that the designers of the OPC
were not of the same opinion.
3. Cultural heritage = conservative dogma?
The ideological base of the OPC was a myopic
perception of cultural heritage. The partiality of this monolithic
ideology was interwoven with the nation’s unique, well-preserved ancient
history as opposed to its chaotic cultural present, full of continuous
change and unsolvable problems, which were being faced in an almost
It was the classic recipe of national identity and prestige that had
constituted an answer to exterior dangers in the past. Now, with the EU
funds, it could solve the problem of economic development. It was a
symbolic identification and a structure of cultural strength through the
collective unconscious connected with the past. But, instead of
trying to unite cultural heritage and modern culture in a common
cultural field, a deep divide was created between them. They were forced
into two separate, autonomous fields. Of the hundreds of projects
designed, one could count those that combined the two fields on the
fingers of one hard.
In the past, heritage was used by the governments to
play a central role in the creation of the nation state and its
hegemony, national identity and education. It was considered superior
and more stable when compared with contemporary culture. On the other
hand, opposing heritage’s solidity and stability, modern culture exists
in a fluid state, constantly changing, full of contradictions and
internal conflicts. Modern culture, because it lives, provides a less
stable frame of reference. In this instance, living culture lost out to
the dead one. (Lowenthal 1997)
Things change. We believe the cultural policy towards
heritage is also changing as society’s ideas and needs change. The image
of the past is changing, as is the position of the past in the present.
The role of our knowledge of the past in society has changed, as has its
place in our present. Cultural heritage is always used as a political,
ideological tool. In this case, the OPC served the conservative,
centralized cultural model of prestige and supremacy that favoured the
past without connecting it to country’s present.
This resulted in a wide gap separating contemporary
culture from heritage. This was also a result of the cultural policy’s
inability to understand the relationship between past and present in a
dynamic manner, without considering the multi-dimensional aspects, or
taking into account the intricate, on-going negotiations between
inherited and emerging social phenomena. The result is that the two
fields never met in the OPC cultural analysis.
Of course, the modern role of the state, economic
development, and multiculturalism do not permit the maintenance of a
monolithic vision of heritage. Public culture is defined, disputed and
claimed by many social groups. De-mystification of heritage takes place
in many ways, but not automatically. It requires a particular
elaboration. What does elaboration mean? It means that we have to
conceive historical events as an unfamiliar experience. “The
necessary elaboration of historical events means that the past is
perceived as an unfamiliar experience which needs to be redefined and to
become familiar through the experience of contemporaries”. (Liakos 1999)
This process had not satisfactorily matured in the
Greek case for various reasons (educational, linguistic, political) and
did not take place at all on this occasion. For decades Greece watched
only half the cycle, while the unknown experience and the
re-appropriation remained pending. In fact, the necessary «procedure»
was never used in the critical process of memory to re-conciliate the
living with their past.
The OPC, from this point of view, remained another
lost opportunity for a cultural spring for the country and its citizens.
4. Contemporary Culture = Dominant Culture?
Among the few projects that concerned contemporary
culture, the two large Cultural and Congress Centres absorbed the major
part of the budget. They constitute the core of culture and the
distribution of hegemonic culture in the country. These charmingly
modern, enormous structures dominate domestic and imported high culture
in Athens and Thessaloniki. They combine the synergy of public and
private with subscriptions from large sponsors, press and media support
and intense marketing. The partiality for high culture is emphasized
here because beyond their centralized, giant nature, their public
belongs almost exclusively to the affluent and cultivated. The remaining
mesh of the cultural needs of middle and lower classes were left to
remain in a grey area, consuming the super market culture of television.
The OPC ignored emerging cultures, experimental arts,
alternative culture, popular culture, the smaller cities and
under-developed regions of the country, youth and immigrants. All these
groups required new cultural structures closer to their needs and ways
of life. Thus, the OPC’s premise of access to the wider public remained
pending as choices in architectural style and urban position excluded
the less privileged population. More than access, participation was
impeded because of the choices favouring the “official” culture. These
choices excluded the aesthetics and tastes of the average citizen.
It is interesting to point out the priorities other
countries applied. Spain, a Mediterranean country with a huge cultural
heritage, shared the funds between heritage and modern culture with the
lion’s share going to modern culture. In a number of regions, like
Andalucia and Castille, library networks were seriously upgraded. In
other areas, emphasis went to cultural routes, craft-based industries
and regional cultural centres. Finland, directed almost all its funding
towards modern culture and high technological innovation and to small
and medium size enterprises, educational structures and networks.
5. Regional Development = Infrastructure = Culture?
The creation of infrastructure was judged to be the
ideal means to develop culture. As a result, the infrastructure
requirements were not analysed to meet the needs of the public, but
developed according to non-cultural criteria. (Bianchini 1993)
Particularly in regional projects, large size was
regarded as prestigious to local officials. Local pressure and
cliental relationships played a major role, as is common in the
provinces. But the main problem was that the plan was designed
centrally. The Ministry of Culture selected primary criteria via a
central archaeological service network and only secondly negotiated it
with local authorities. This resulted in tens of projects in regional
museums and archaeological sites that barely touched upon local needs.
The programs barely dealt with the local needs for human resources,
advanced technologies, the cultural side of diversity, integration of
innovation, and distance working.
6. The Big Question = New Agenda for Cultural Policy
in light of the 4th CSF
or the same old same old?
The traditional agenda of cultural policy that
existed before the OPC was reinforced during its implementation towards
a conservative direction. OPC strengthened the priority of the
nation-state’s prestige, the old values of the dominant culture, the
pyramid depiction of high and low culture and ignored society’s needs
for diversity, pluralism, access and participation.
This tendency was encouraged even more during the
organization of the Olympic Games and the Cultural Olympics that
accompanied them. The country found a new myth of optimism, persuading
itself that new successes were just around the corner. This was the
answer to the permanent, daily complaints about the devaluation of the
country’s culture, values, linguistic poverty, etc. nourishing a
pessimistic approach to the present and a romantic nostalgia for the
The Olympic Games with its gala opening and closing
ceremonies added a liberal, globalized media message to the traditional
model. However, modern society is more and more influenced by symbolic
meanings consuming their material and non-material forms. These
constitute a continuously increasing spectrum of cultural products and
services within our daily lives. This poses the question of the role of
the state and its guarantee of public space. In consequence, its
responsibility for diversity, pluralism, access, cultural rights,
identity, reduction of inequalities and participation.
This study considers it essential to renew the agenda
of cultural policy, taking into consideration important parameters like:
-Globalization and the increased international flow
of cultural products and services.
-The directions and activities of international
organizations like UNESCO and the World Trade Organization (WTO).
-The relation of economy to culture, social cohesion,
regional planning, urban regeneration.
-Technological innovation and the consequences to the
field of culture.
-The relationship between education and culture.
-The popular culture and mass media.
-The cultural mix and the dialogue between cultures.
Last but not least, the particularities of the
European Union’s Cultural space and the principles adopted by the EU on
cultural policy have to be mapped and debated publicly. The comparison
among member-states regarding the management of the Structural Funds’
could demonstrate the different ways culture is
connected to economic development and social cohesion.
Such research is essential and should combine a theoretical approach
with decision making. This approach by nature is
interdisciplinary, including the institutional aspects of the EU policy
on culture. Every member-state has much to
learn from the experience of others in the field of cultural policy.
the Operational Program for Culture of the 3rd CSF
enters its final year and planning has already begun for the 4th CSF.
Greek experience must be used to create a more dynamic output. It is
essential to open public debate as soon as possible with the goal of
modernizing cultural policy in the framework of Greece’s participation
in the enlarged, multicultural EU. It is necessary to use the new budget
of the Structural Funds more efficiently to better serve a new cultural
agenda for access, participation, diversity, pluralism, social cohesion
and sustainable development,
I would like to thank professor Antonis Liakos for
the opportunity he provided to collaborate in the planning and
realization of the recent post-graduate seminar about Cultural policy in
the Department of History and Archaeology, University of Athens 2005-6.
I also would like to thank: Vassilis Voutsakis and the other
participants to this seminar; the students with which we had lively
debate on the issues of cultural policy research; Lina Mendoni for the
information she supplied about the implementation of OPCs; the
periodical Metarrythmisi that published a series of my articles on
cultural policy; the students of the Teachers’ Training Centre for their
interest in the social aspects of cultural policy; my friend Daniel
Gorney who read and corrected the English version of this paper.
 The action in favour regional growth constitutes one from
the major policies of the European Community and absorbs above
the 30% of Community budget. Its goal is to aid the least
developed regions and to encourage cohesion. This policy is
financed by the European Fund for Regional Growth (FEDED), the
Fund for Rural Guarantees (FEOGA), the Social Fund (FSE) and the
Fishery Fund (IFOP). The Structural Funds were applied from 1986
by the Single European Act. They were modified to an important
degree in 1993 but do not expressly include culture from
1994-99. However, many member states consider culture to be a
factor of regional economic and social development. A first
Committee Report on the cultural aspect was published in 1996.
Its wide framework included: cohesion and balanced regional
development, social policy, human resources, and advanced
technologies. In 2002, the Council decided to include culture in
the development program and called on member-states and the
Committee “to collaborate to allow the Committee to activate the
evaluation of applying article 151, paragraph 4 of the
Treaties”. According to, “the Community when undertaking
dynamic action on the Treaty’s present provisions, takes into
consideration the cultural aspects, aiming specifically at
respect for and the promotion of diversity”. This paragraph
declares the EU’s obligation to consider the cultural factor in
all its actions.
Greek Ministry of Economy and Finance. 1994.
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Athens: Ministry of Economy and Finance.
Greek Ministry of Economy and Finance. 2000.
Community Support Framework 2000-2006.
Athens: Ministry of Economy and Finance
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increasingly important field of government activity, with
cultural diversity, cultural pluralism, and cultural access and
participation important policy objectives” in Bennett, T.,
Grossberg L. and Morris, M. 2005. New Keywords. London:
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approach. Flew, T. 2005. “Rethinking cultural policy in a
global creative economy”. The International Journal of Cultural
Policy, Vol. 11, no 3, 2005, p. 229-241.
“The past was cleansed of internal
conflict, sanitized and offered to the public for easy
consumption as the “truth””. Shannan
Peckham, R., ed. 2003. Rethinking Heritage. London: Tauris
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culture. Athens: Ministry of Culture, p.17
 Structural Funds have nothing to do with competitive
Programs of EU as i.e. Culture 2000, Media plus, ecc. The
financed by the Structural Funds Programs are connected with the
economic and social development of the country and social
 “The nation is not only a political entity but something
that creates meanings –a system of cultural representation.
People are not only citizens of a nation according to the law
but they participate in the notion of the nation as it is
represented by its national culture.” Hall, St., Held, D. and
McGrew A. 1992. Modernity and its Futures (greek ed.) Athens:
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Geertz, Cl. 1973. The Interpretation of
Cultures. N. York : Basic Books.
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Greek Ministry of Economy and Finance. 2000.
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Notes on post-war cultural history of the
Post-war cultural policy in Greece (1950-‘60)
was forged by the conservative (called “The National”) ideology
and policy of the Right. Following the bloody civil war that
ended in 1949, the cultural structures were determined for the
economic objective of attracting tourism. Ancient Greek cultural
heritage, was a fundamental axis for a conservative,
ethnocentric and “prestige” model. To a great extent it was in
contrast to the existing popular culture.
This was followed by the military
dictatorship (1967-74), dominated by ancestor worship in
combination with military virtue.
The post-dictatorship period from 1974
allowed a great cultural blossoming. New ideas flooded the world
of publishing and the press: political youth movements,
underground culture, sexual freedom, feminist emancipation,
revolution in the arts, and new life styles, rich with cultural
meanings, unanswered questions and problems of identity.
In the 1980s, the social-democratic party
PASOK (Panellenic Sosialist Movement) took power after decades
of the Right’s dominance in government. It had to respond to the
population’s expectations including questions of culture.
PASOK’s cultural proposal found Melina Mercoury an ideal femme
fatale to act as Minister of Culture. The ethnocentric approach
was combined with democratization. Popular expression expanded
during that decade.
In the ‘90s, modernization accompanied the
European prospect. The consumption of cultural products and
services grew geometrically. Mass media played a vital role.
In 2000, the Olympic Games became the
country’s major ambition. In parallel, the Cultural Olympics
encouraged the realization of mega, high-budget events to reach
audiences around the world.