Tuesday, 17 January 2012

Commercial Use of Iconic Sites in Greece

Just for once, a more "hertitagey" issue. Greece's culture ministry said on Tuesday that it will do more to facilitate access to the country's ancient Greek ruins by opening up some of the debt-stricken country's most-cherished archaeological sites to advertising firms and other ventures. Not insignificant also is the fact that the money generated would fund their upkeep and monitoring. The temporary leasing of ancient Greek sites for such purposes would be subject to strict conditions. The first site to be opened would be the iconic Acropolis. "Commercial use of Greece's archaeological sites has until now been the responsibility of the Central Council of Archaeology, which has been very choosy about who gains access. In recent decades, only a select few people, including Greek-Canadian filmmaker Nia Vardalos and the American director Francis Ford Coppola, have been able to use the Acropolis, while most filming and advertising requests have been refused".

Using a site for filming sounds relatively straightforward until the logistics of the operation are considered. Anyone who has seen such a film crew, even for a simple interview 'on site' will know that its not often just a presenter, actor or model and a bloke with a camera. There are a huge crew (with vehicles and caravans), generators, cables, heavy and hot lights, fencing needs erecting for crowd control and so on. People tramping around carrying heavy objects and so on. I once worked with a conservator of wall paintings on a text of the conditions for a foreign film team to film inside a Polish monastery which had Medieval mural decoration. It was a long text and I chastised her gently over that, until she pulled out a portfolio and showed me photos of examples (most not from Poland) where such conditions had not been drawn up and some quite (and some barely believably) thoughtless behaviour by film technicians and others had done serious damage on other sites. One can see therefore the reasoning behind the caution.

On the other hand, sponsorship of ancient monument repair and advertising have long gone hand in hand. All over Poland and former East Germany in the years after the collapse of Communism a huge legacy of sadly neglected historic buildings in urban centres was encountered and had to be dealt with. One resolution was to seek sponsorship from companies which then utilised the occasion to advertise their participation. The scaffolding erected outside such buildings inevitably had stretched over it netting printed with huge adverts for the firm financing the work. Since the restoration of these buildings often took several years, many companies had 'free' advertising (and in connection with a socially praiseworthy enterprise) for many years in prime town centre locations. Even today such work is still going on in Warsaw (but not so much in the city centre). In Britain, organizations such as English Heritage and the National Trust have made sites and buildings in their care available (under supervision) for events such as wedding receptions, conferences, integration meetings and so on. In Poland the Baroque and Neoclassical former palaces of Prussian grafs and Polish Szlachta have been saved from Communist period decline by being turned into hotels and conference centres or other such uses. Medieval banquets are a good money-spinner for castles with their roofs on, re-enacted tourneys for those without. We have our archaeological 'festivals' on some sites with shows of experimental archaeology and where you can buy craftwork and "regional delicacies". Archaeology itself of course has been closely integrated with the commercial world for several decades since Brian Hobley's pioneer efforts in the City of London and to a certain extent US experiences.

Perhaps in embarking on this path, Greece might benefit from some collaboration with other EU partners who have longer experience with the integration of the needs of cultural assets and the commercial sector. Just in case...

Stella Tsolakidou, 'Debt-Riddled Greece Will Lease Acropolis For Commercial Exploitation', Greek Reporter/AFP January 17, 2012.

Vignette: vintage Metaxa advert , not at all a problem, and let's hope it does not come to this (floridagold on 'Poster's paradise')

No comments:

Creative Commons License
Ten utwór jest dostępny na licencji Creative Commons Uznanie autorstwa-Bez utworów zależnych 3.0 Unported.