Greek Artists, Musicians Want Benefits, Arts Saved from COVID-19

ATHENS – The lifting of a lockdown aimed at preventing the spread of the COVID-19 Coronavirus will allow for the gradual reopening of the country’s businesses and public gathering sports, with social distancing, but not for gathering spots like concert halls.

That has left musicians and artists fearful they will never recover and that the arts will be decimated in the country, with even museums being limited and performers left without audiences and unable to make a living.

With the lockdown beginning to ease on May 4, there still are no plans for how even open-air music events would be held as it would be essentially impossible to keep people from gathering, as crowds did when singer Akis Protoptsaltis performed on the top of an open bus in the Greek capital.

That drew criticism that it violated the distancing rule that people stay at least 1.5 meters (4.92 feet apart) although it was designed as a feel-good measure for people mostly staying home, not allowed out except for permissible missions such as going to supermarkets.

The popular folk and art house music performer went on a mini-bus tour through Athens,  entertaining people stuck at home, and made stops at hospitals treating virus patients.

It was an initiative hailed by Athens Mayor Kostas Bakoyannis a "way to say thank you to all the people who are doing battle for us." In a post on Facebook, the Mayor also urged Athenians to "open their windows" to the initiative and "stay positive."

Directors and other artists have called on the Culture Ministry to announce a scheme to help the performing arts, the state-run Athens-Macedonia News Agency (ANA-MPA) said.

“One would have expected that, after specialized measures were announced for hairdressers… and restaurants, the same would have happened for theaters," the director of the Poreia Theater, Dimitris Tarlow, told Kathimerini.

"There is a big problem of survival for professions associated with the theater and theatrical businesses not only for the summer, but also for the winter season."


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