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MCA’s New Initiative for Protection of Cultural and Natural Heritage of the Cyclades

ATHENS – Cycladic Identity is the new initiative of the Museum of Cycladic Art (MCA), which aims to protect the cultural and natural heritage of the Cyclades and to preserve, restore and promote their unique identity. Focusing on Culture, Biodiversity and Intangible Heritage, the initiative serves as a platform for attracting and allocating resources to programs implemented by organizations active on the islands.

The initiative represents a natural evolution of the MCA’s many years of work. This is the Museum’s first organized effort to expand its mission to give back to the Cycladic islands, where the Cycladic civilization was born 5,000 years ago by supporting impactful projects. Recognizing Culture, Biodiversity and Intangible Heritage as structural elements of the Cycladic identity, the initiative seeks to create a lively dialogue with the local communities of the islands in order to map their needs and support programs aimed at preserving this identity.

Left to right: Dr. Michael Boyd, Senior Research Affiliate, Science and Technology in Archaeology and Culture Research Center, The Cyprus Institute; Demetres Karavellas CEO of WWF Greece; Sandra Marinopoulou, CEO of the Museum of Cycladic Art, Dr. Angeliki Kosmopoulou, Archaeologist, Executive Director of the Athanasios C. Laskaridis Charitable Foundation; and Dr. Demetrios Athanasoulis, Director of the Ephorate of Antiquities of Cyclades. Photo: Paris Tavitian/ Museum of Cycladic Art

The evaluation of the submitted proposals is carried out by the Scientific Committee of Cycladic Identity, which consists of four members with deep knowledge and understanding of the unique characteristics and needs of the Cyclades, due to their long-term professional activity in the field: Dr. Demetrios Athanasoulis, Director of the Ephorate of Antiquities of Cyclades; Dr. Michael Boyd, Senior Research Affiliate, Science and Technology in Archaeology and Culture Research Center, The Cyprus Institute; Demetres Karavellas, CEO of WWF Greece; and Dr. Angeliki Kosmopoulou, Archaeologist, Executive Director of the Athanasios C. Laskaridis Charitable Foundation. The final selection of proposals involves the Advisory Committee of the initiative, which provides, since its inception, significant funding and contributes to the development of its strategy.

Traditional food served at a Cycladic ‘panegiri’. Photo: Anemon Production/ Museum of Cycladic Art

As stated by MCA President and CEO Sandra Marinopoulou: “The Museum of Cycladic Art would not exist without the Cycladic islands and their civilization. We wish our Museum to give back to the Cyclades, in a sustainable and meaningful way. That’s how the idea of the Cycladic Identity initiative was born. We feel that it is important to be part of the Cyclades, to protect them in order to preserve their Cycladic identity. Our goal is to stay close to local communities and to identify their needs. To be their supporters and their partners. Today, local societies are more vulnerable than ever to increased tourism, the abandonment of traditional customs and their rituals, but also climate change. Cycladic Identity seeks to provide the means and motivate the islanders to actively participate in the preservation of their own heritage. Its elements are what has shaped local communities from the past to the present and hold the potential to lead them to a sustainable future.”

At the beginning of its action, Cycladic Identity addressed an invitation to the representatives of the local government of the islands and presented its vision and operating mechanism to mayors, deputy mayors, and councilors. Τhe initiative also met and discussed with 34 organizations that it subsequently invited to participate in the call that opened at the beginning of the year. The submission deadline was February 20, 2023, and Cycladic Identity received 24 complete program applications, covering a total of 14 islands within the Cyclades. These applications were evaluated on the basis of a predetermined list of criteria by the members of the Scientific Committee and on March 31, nine proposals were selected on eight Cycladic islands, specifically Amorgos, Andros, Donoussa, Ios, Kea (two programs), Mykonos, Paros, and Sikinos.
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Monument in Episkopi, Sikinos. Photo: Anemon Production/ Museum of Cycladic Art

The programs are: Ancient Quarries of Paros – Stability and Accessibility of Underground Tunnels by the NGO Paros Ancient Marble Quarries Park; Traditional Water Management Practices in the Central Mountainous Area of Andros: Recording, Preservation, Interpretation and Promotion Actions by Andros Research Center; Recounting and Documenting the Art of Dry Stone Walling (‘Xerolithia’) by the Municipal Enterprise for the Environmental Protection, Education and Development of Mykonos; Recording Traditional Instrument Players of Kea to Safeguard, Preserve and Promote Traditional Music as Intangible Cultural Heritage by the Municipal Public Benefit Organization of Kea; Development of a Website for Hosting, Maintaining, and Promoting the Oral History Archive of Donoussa by Poseidon Cultural and Environmental Association of Donoussa; Listen to the Story… by the Center for the Study & Dissemination of Myths & Folktales, Kea; Paths of Culture in Sikinos: Creation of a Navigation and Information Application by the Hellenic Society for the Environment and Cultural Heritage; Intangible Cultural Heritage of Amorgos – Recording Traditions by the Municipal Public Benefit Organization of Amorgos; and Cycladic Youth Gaze by Cinemathesis, Ios.

The implementation of these programs has begun and is monitored through reports and field visits for the in-person confirmation of the works. The next funding period covers the year 2024 and concerns proposals to be submitted under the second call sent to the organizations in September. The selected programs will be announced at the beginning of the new year.

More information is available online: www.cycladicidentity.gr

Instagram: @cycladic_identity

Facebook: @CycladicIdentity

LinkedIn: Cycladic Identity

Art of building a dry stone wall (‘xerolithia’). Photo: Anemon Production/ Museum of Cycladic Art

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