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Culture

The Onassis Cultural Center – More than a Gift, a Legacy to a Nation

The National Herald included a special insert featuring the Alexander S. Onassis Public Benefit Foundation in its January 3-9, 2015 edition. Since the Onassis Cultural Centre in New York has become such an integral part of the life of the Greek-American community – and the wider cultural scene in New York City – we will present some of the inserts articles on this website’s Community section.

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Alexander S. Onassis Public Benefit Foundation was established in December 1975 in accordance with Aristotle Onassis’ last wish to honor the memory of his son, Alexander.

Culture, education, the environment, health, and social solidarity come first on the Foundation’s agenda and all of its projects relate to Greece or Greek culture and civilization.

The Alexander S. Onassis Public Benefit Foundation’s activities are multifarious, focused on very important areas such as culture, education, environment, health and social solidarity.

Within the framework of its activities for the promotion of culture, the Foundation created the Onassis Cultural Centre on Syngrou Avenue in Athens, totally dedicated to arts and culture. The foundations of the Onassis Cultural Centre were laid in the year 2000 and the building was officially inaugurated in December 2010.

The Onassis Cultural Centre is Athens’ new cultural space, open and accessible to everyone, hosting theatre, dance, music, visual arts events and letters. Its mission is to promote contemporary culture, to support young Greek artists, to cultivate international collaborations, to educate children and people of all ages through lifelong learning.

The Onassis Foundation disseminates Greek civilization abroad and specifically to the United States and Canada, through the affiliate foundation at the Olympic Tower in New York, which organizes conferences, a major archaeological exhibition every year, and a programme of visiting Professors to Universities of North and South America and Canada. In this context, the Foundation undertook the establishment of the Onassis Library for Hellenic and Roman Art at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, the renovation and equipment of the libraries of the National Archaeological Museum, the Christian and Byzantine Museum and the Benaki Museum in Athens, the architectural preservation and restoration of sites and buildings around the world, as well as countless other endeavors related to arts and culture.

Among its other activities, the Foundation awards scholarships to Greeks for postgraduate studies in Greece and abroad and to non-Greeks for research and postgraduate studies in Greece. Until 2012, approximately 4,800 scholarships have been awarded to Greeks and 720  to foreigners. The Scholars Association, with the active involvement of approximately 1.800 former scholars and the financial support of the Onassis Foundation, organizes conferences, lectures, cultural and scientific events.

In the fields of social solidarity and health, the Foundation donated to the Greek state in 1992 the model Onassis Cardiac Surgery Centre (OCSC). The 127-bed capacity OCSC is the first hospital in Greece fully certified in the departments of adult and pediatric heart surgery and cardiology, the only certified hospital in Greece for heart and lung transplantations, maintaining of the best survival rates internationally.

Other public benefit projects of the Foundation include financial support to organizations such as ELPIDA for the establishment of cancer hospital for children, and the Hellenic Society for Disabled Children (ELEPAP).

ACTIVITIES

 

The Alexander S. Onassis Public Benefit Foundation’s activities are multifarious, focused on very important areas such as culture, education, environment, health and social solidarity.

As part of its cultural activities, the Onassis Foundation has recently acquired the Cavafy Archive in order to protect this valuable material and to disseminate Cavafy’s work to the public as well as to promote both poetry and Cavafy’s personality on an international level. These goals will be achieved through a series of activities within the framework of a modern approach to the poet’s work which will result in the increase of the interest of the younger generations, the use of new media and the education of the general public. The Cavafy Archive is intended to function as a fully registered, digitalized and enriched open archive that will allow its users to do a thorough research.

The Onassis Foundation disseminates Greek civilization abroad and specifically to the U.S.A. and Canada, through the Affiliate Foundation at the Olympic Tower in New York, which organizes conferences, a major archaeological exhibition every year, and a programme  of visiting Professors to Universities of North and South America  and Canada. In this context, the Foundation undertook the establishment of the Onassis Library for Hellenic and Roman Art at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, the renovation and equipment of the libraries of the National Archaeological Museum, the Christian and Byzantine Museum and the Benaki Museum in Athens, the architectural preservation and restoration of sites and buildings around the world, as well as countless  other endeavors related to the arts and culture.

Within the same framework, the Foundation  offers financial assistance to Universities with Greek chairs, departments  or programs in Europe, the United States, Canada, South America, Africa, Australia and Asia, where Greek studies are taught.

In appreciation of the contribution made by these Universities,  as well as of the difficulties they encounter, the Foundation funds established university Programs of Greek Studies which have done important and consistent work. It also supports primary and secondary schools in Europe and the United States that teach the Ancient and Modern Greek language and culture.

The Foundation’s support covers the teaching of Ancient and Modern Greek language, literature, history, philosophy, archaeology and culture. The Foundation donates series of works by the classical ancient Greek authors, Classical Works publications, dictionaries, Greek grammar and syntax books as well as the necessary technical equipment, to the academic institutions concerned. The Foundation  has supported more than 100 educational institutions in 40 countries.

Among its other activities, the Foundation awards scholarships to Greeks for postgraduate studies in Greece and abroad and to non-Greeks for research and postgraduate studies in Greece. Until 2013, approximately  5,279 scholarships have been awarded to Greeks and 778 to foreigners. The Scholars Association, with the active involvement of approximately 1700 former scholars and the financial support of the Onassis Foundation, organizes conferences, lectures, cultural and scientific events.

In the fields of social solidarity and health, the Foundation donated to the Greek state in 1992 the model Onassis Cardiac Surgery Centre (OCSC).The 127-bed capacity OCSC is the first hospital in Greece fully certified in the departments of adult and pediatric heart surgery and cardiology. Other public benefit projects of the Foundation include financial support to organizations such as ELPIDA  for the establishment of a cancer  hospital for children, and the Hellenic Society for Disabled Children (ELEPAP).

Another important aspect of the Foundation’s work is the awarding of international prizes, since 1978, bestowed on individuals or organizations in the fields of culture, social achievement and the environment. Today, the Foundation offers the Onassis International Prize in Shipping, Trade and Finance, in collaboration with the City of London and Cass Business School of the City University, London.

The Onassis Foundation, in association with the Foundation for Research and Technology  Hellas (FORTH) of the University of Crete, organizes the “Onassis Foundation Science Lecture Series”, an annual series of high-level scientific lectures that cover the following applied sciences fields: physics, chemistry, biology, mathematics  and computer science. The lecture series are weeklong and aim at the further education and advancement of young Greek scientists, both graduates and post-graduates. The lectures, which take place in July at the FORTH premises in Heraklion, Crete, are offered in English by internationally acclaimed scientists and are supplemented by lectures offered by Greek scientists, distinguished in the said fields.

Up to four series of lectures are organized each year, covering topics which are at the cutting edge of international scientific research in the fields of physics, chemistry, biology, mathematics and computer science. The collaboration began in 2001 and since then, eminent academicians have participated in lectures and seminars of the FORTH as keynote speakers.

The Onassis Foundation represents in Greece the Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings since 2009, as the academic collaborator of the Scientific Meetings in Physics, Chemistry and Medicine or Physiology, that take place annually in Lindau, Germany.

The annual Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings are organized by the Council for the Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings and the Foundation Lindau Nobel Prize winners Meetings at Lake Constance, with the secretariat support and contribution of the relevant Secretariat.

The Meetings are a universally  recognized Forum, where different generation scientists have the opportunity to exchange knowledge and views. They offer inspiration and motive, to highly regarded scientists – Laureates of Nobel Prize that coordinate the meetings from the scientific fields of Chemistry, Physics, Medicine/Physiology and Economics, as also to the new talents of the scientific community, through open dialogues, seminars and events. The  Foundation,  as the academic collaborator of the Institution, has supported financially the participation in the Meetings of 44 young scientists until now.

Finally in 2012, within the framework of its public benefit activity, the Onassis Foundation responded to the present need for urban revival by funding and organizing the Architectural Com- petition and all the Architectural, Bioclimatic and Technical Studies relative to the Rethink Athens project (www.rethinkathens.org). The winner of the competition was the Dutch architectural practice OKRA LANDSCHAPSARCHITECTEN BV. The aim of the project is to improve the quality of everyday life for the citizens by providing the conditions of environmental upgrade, restitution  of the urban environment and improvement of the microclimate by planting trees, constructing shelters and prescribing the use of eco-friendly  public means of transport which will reduce emissions and will create an inviting environment for both pedestrians and cyclists. All of the above, combined with other initiatives, will help reverse the climate of social and financial decline and restore the many vacant buildings back into activity, revitalizing thus the most central parts of the city.

For the implementation of this project, the Onassis Foundation signed, as sponsor, a legal Agreement with the Ministry of Environment, Energy and Climate Change, the former Ministry of Transport, Infrastructure and Networks (now called Ministry of Development, Competitiveness, Transport, Infrastructure and Networks), the Attiko  Metro S.A., as well as memoranda  of collaboration with the Attica Region and the Municipality of Athens. The overall cost of the intervention will be 92 million euros. The Ministry of Environment, Energy and Climate Change, the Ministry of Development, Competitiveness, Transport, Infrastructure and Networks, the Attica Region and the Municipality of Athens have already announced that the Rethink Athens project will be funded by the NSRF. Therefore, 95% of the project budget will be covered by EU (and not national) funds.

The Re-think Athens project is launching the transformation of the center of Athens in 2016! Extending from Amalias Avenue and Syntagma Square to Omonoia Square and the Archaeological Museum, the city will reclaim its public space and will evolve into a unique place, where citizens from every corner of Athens can meet, both in commercial and leisure activities.

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