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Adopt an Ancient Theatre

benosDiazoma is a citizens’ platform, which, in collaboration with the Ministry of Culture, tries to put the love for monuments and cultural heritage of Greece into practice. Diazoma focuses on the restoration of ancient venues for spectators and audiences and the focusing of resources necessary for their rehabilitation.

Ancient theatres, stadiums, conservatories (odeia), assembly halls (vouleutiria).

Culminating achievements of ancient Greek civilization. Works of art built to host works of art. Birthplaces of democratic principles and cultural and intellectual creativity, sacred spaces which reflect the spirit and soul of the Greeks. One hundred and fifty ancient venues for spectators and audiences are scattered all across Greece. Some of them are world famous (Epidaurus, Herodium, Dodona), some are in good condition, others rescued fragmented, and there are even some only known to us from the descriptions and testimonies of the time.

Our aim is for ancient theatres to be in the focus of two historical relationships: society on one hand and tourism, economy, environment and culture, on the other. The socialization of monuments, combined with the sustainable development of Greece, is the ultimate goal of Diazoma.

Diazoma is the meeting point of three ‘families’, which are active contributors in various areas of interest: a. archaeologists/restorers, b. artists/intellectuals, and c. the big family of local communities (mayors, regional governors, citizens).

We seek to publicize the beauty, the originality, the values, knowledge, aesthetics and harmony of the ancient theatres in a number of ways: organizing events, setting up individual campaigns for each theatre, our “Adopt an Ancient Theatre” initiative, opening bank accounts/”money boxes” for each ancient venue, as well as utilizing new technologies.

We seek to convince the economic powers of Greece to contribute to this effort as sponsors.

We seek to mobilize local societies with regard to their monuments.

We seek to heighten Greek citizens’ awareness of their cultural heritage, in conjunction with developing contemporary cultural creation.

From the first day of Diazoma establishment in July 2008, we have had an ambitious master plan, which is based on two pillars: the documentation of ancient venues and the establishment of alternative funding sources.

To this end, a growing number of activities are taking place, including: 72 scientific reports, 8 publications, 4 documentaries, two smart phone-based digital tours, 3D images, collaboration with 20 cultural institutions, schools and civic movements throughout Greece.

The alternative funding for monuments is being achieved through:

Program agreements of cultural character through which cities and regions have the opportunity to submit their own financial contribution

Sponsorship contracts through which the major economic forces in the country can participate as sponsors

The creation of “money boxes,” the bank accounts where necessary resources are brought together for the restoration work.

These three sources of funding enable us to assist in geophysical surveys, expropriations and excavations; we have already commissioned studies for 8 ancient theatres and the results of these studies are being submitted to the Ministry of Culture. We are hoping that the end point of this work will be the securing of significant European funding for the restoration work on the monuments.

These efforts are already paying off, as 50 ancient theatres are in various stages of restoration design and implementation.

We never claimed state resources, a commitment kept until today. Diazoma is financially supported by sponsors, donors, institutions, banks and companies and operates on the principle of full transparency and efficiency.

Our most ambitious project is to bring people back to the monuments. We address the citizens of the world and invite them to open their arms to the ancient theatres of Greece. We urge them to adopt an ancient theatre and contribute to its restoration and enhancement. This is the only way to ensure their universal protection.

The response we’ve had so far has been overwhelming, even at such a challenging time for the country. We have been greatly moved by the voluntary offers of help, the contributions from people of limited financial resources and the enthusiasm of school students coming together to assist in the effort to save this important chapter of cultural heritage of Greece.

This post is part of a series produced by The Huffington Post in association with TEDxKalamata’s conference on July 26-27 in Greece. For more information, visit www.TEDxKalamata.com.