Áñ÷éêÞ | ðßóù

Facebook |Twitter 

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.[1] 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.[2]

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 following:

-  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?[3]


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?[4]

      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.[5] 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 between them.

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”.[6] 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[7]. No initiatives show a similar concern, in contrast with other European countries that developed, under this same framework, favourable to contemporary cultural programs.[8] 

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%).[9]    

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

2nd  CSF (1994-2000)


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 reject it.

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 solutions.

 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%.[10]

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 contemporary culture.

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.



3rd  CSF (2000-2006)


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 proportional.

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 cultural heritage.

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 projects.

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 programs.

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 consideration.”[11]  

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.[12]

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.

(Throsby 2001)

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 derogatory manner.[13]  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. (Hesmondhalgh 2005)

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. (Fiske 1989)

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 past. 

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’ budgets 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.  

Regarding Greece, 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.




[1] 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.


[2] Greek  Ministry of Economy and Finance. 1994. Community Support Framework 1994-2000. Athens: Ministry of Economy and Finance. Greek  Ministry of Economy and Finance. 2000. Community Support Framework 2000-2006. Athens: Ministry of Economy and Finance


[3] “Cultural policies are an 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: Blackwell, p. 64.


[4] Which choice between “sovereignity” model and “software” 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.


[5] “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


[6] “ The less productive [direction] has been that which has celebrated popular culture without situating it in a model of power.” Fiske, J. 1989. Understanding  Popular Culture. London: Routledge,  p. 20.


[7] Greek  Ministry of Culture. 2000. Community Support Framework 2000-2006. Operational   program culture. Athens: Ministry of Culture.


[8] Commission des Communautes Europeennes, 2004. Document de travail des services de la Commission. Bruxelles: SEC(2004) 237.


[9] Metron Analysis, 2005. “The cultural practices of  the Greeks.” Highlights, no 19, 2005, p. 1-53.



[10] Greek Ministry of Culture. 1999. Operational Program Tourism-Culture. Athens: Ministry of Culture p. 23.


[11] Greek Ministry of Culture. 2000. Community Support Framework 2000-06. Operational  program culture. Athens: Ministry of Culture, p.17



[12] 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 cohesion.


[13] “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: Savalas, p. 427.  






Bennett, T., Grossberg L. and Morris, M. 2005. New Keywords. London: Blackwell.


Bianchini, F. and Parkinson. M., eds. 1993. Cultural Policy and Urban Regeneration – The West European Experience.  Manchester: Manchester University Press.


Featherstone, K. and Radaelli, Cl. (eds.) 2003. The Politics of Europeanization. New York: Oxford University Press.


Fiske, J. 1989. Understanding  Popular Culture. London: Routledge.



Fiske, J. 1989. Reading  the Popular. London: Routledge.


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.



Geertz, Cl. 1973. The Interpretation of Cultures. N. York : Basic Books.


Greek Ministry of Culture. 1999. Operational Program Tourism-Culture. Athens: The Ministry of Culture.


Greek Ministry of Culture. 2000. Community Support Framework 2000-2006. Operational  program culture. Athens: Ministry of Culture.


Greek  Ministry of Economy and Finance. 2000. Community Support Framework 2000-2006. Athens: Ministry of Economy and Finance.


Hall, St., Held, D. and McGrew A. 1992. Modernity and its Futures.(greek ed.) Athens: Savalas.


Hesmondhalgh, D. 2005. “Media and the Cultural Policy as Public Policy.” International Journal of Cultural Policy, Vol. 11, no 1, 2005, p. 95-109.  


Lewis, J., Miller, T. 2003. Critical Cultural Policy Studies. A Reader. London: Blackwell.


Liakos, A., 1999. “On the poetics of History” Ta Istorika, no 31, p.259-290.


Lowenthal, D. 1998. The Heritage Crusade and the Spoils of History. N. York: Cambridge University Press.  


McGuigan, J. 2004. Rethinking Cultural Policy. London: McGraw-Hill.


Mendoni, L. 2006. “Culture and the Community Support Frameworks”, Metarrythmisi, Vol. 1, no3, 2006,

p. 80-83.


Metron Analysis. 2005. “The cultural practices of the Greeks.” Highlights, no 19, p. 1-53,  2005.



Miller, T. and  Yudice, G. 2002. Cultural  Policy. London: Sage.


Muller, P. and Surel, Y. 2002. The analysis of the State Policies. (greek ed.) Athens: typothito-G. Dardanos.


Pachaki, K., Aghelidou, F. and Anastasakou Z. 2000.  Culture as a sector of economic activity. Athens: Centre of Programming and Economic Research. p. 187.


Shannan Peckham, R. (ed.) 2003. Rethinking  Heritage. London: Tauris. 


Simitis, K. 2005. Policy for a Creative Greece 1996-2004. Athens: Polis


Throsby, D. 2001. Economics  and Culture. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.


Tsakatika, M. 2004. “The weakness of the neo-institutionalist approaches: How political institutions change.” Episteme kai Koinonia, no 13, 2004, p. 135-166.


West, C., Smith, Ch. 2005. “Museums  and social inclusion under New Labour.” The International Journal of Cultural Policy, Vol. 11, no 3, 2005, p. 275-288.


Willians,  R.  1981. Culture. London: Fontana.



Notes on post-war cultural history of the country

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.

design by netsupport.gr