It can be tough as an American, not currently IN Greece, to research the debt crisis in Greece as it relates to how artists and galleries might be affected. At least not without running into a lot of distracting side conversations, blogs, and articles about less important issues like, “Will the Greek Debt Crisis Ruin My Vacation?”
That’s all well and good for those planning a trip overseas, but since I am interested in how this continuing economic disaster is directly affecting the arts in Greece, such distractions are more than a little annoying.
One article published by the Huffington Post talks directly about the situation in Greece as it relates to the arts, but I find the tone for some of this piece–at first glance–is likely somewhat removed from reality. At least until you read past the declarations that seem to imply that Greece is turning into the New York art scene of the 1980s.
“It’s a curious thing, but amid a stunning unemployment rate (26 percent), unsustainable debt (almost twice the gross domestic product) and the threat of more austerity, Greece’s capital city is flourishing in one way: as a mecca for artists.” That’s according to Ozy writer Laura Palet’s piece for HuffPo titled, This Part Of Greece’s Capital Is Flourishing Amid Austerity, which also adds:
“…And not despite the debt crisis, but because of it. The very downturn that brought Greece to its knees has also made it fertile ground for creativity. Prices are cheap, open spaces are plentiful and social tensions are sending artists into rapture.”
I’m not sure how rapturous those artists are feeling in the face of closed banks, the possibility that the IMF could intercept and deny wire transferred funds to people in Greece, or the potential lack of groceries and essential services in the coming weeks or months. But the article does go on to point out that the economic realities in Greece are forcing galleries and artists alike to rethink ways of doing business.
Not surprising, given blog posts like the one at Freestylee.net, the home of Artists Without Borders, which features one article that reports:
“In a nation where joblessness is now more than 20 percent, with no family untouched by it, the sight of people sleeping on pavements and park benches, in metro stations and shopping arcades, doorways and cars, is the most visible sign yet of an economy in freefall. More than 10,000 people have been decanted on to the streets of Athens, home to the vast majority of Greece’s 11 million population. The government has just announced emergency aid for the destitute and the Greek Orthodox Church has revealed it is feeding 250,000 people a day.”
Here’s the surprise about the quote above. It was reported roughly FIVE YEARS AGO. As many know, (or at least I hope they know) Greek economic problems are not new, despite the way the headlines lead us to think about the current crisis. So it begs the question–if things were tough before all this, how bad are they NOW?
I am having a difficult time finding stories of individual artists, gallery owners, and art patrons who are affected by these issues. So I set out to find some of their stories myself. I am searching for interviewees who can tell me their stories or stories of people they know who are in the arts, or supporters of the arts, and are directly affected by the current levels of austerity and crisis in Greece.
If you know someone who fits the above description, or if you yourself are affected, do get in touch. I would love to tell your story and offer a more up-close view of the Greek debt crisis than we’re getting here in America with CNN and the other news services.
Contact me: firstname.lastname@example.org