Mayor’s Greeting for the 55th Dimitria Festival
“Distances”: Who could have imagined that the beloved science fiction plot device of the global pandemic would leap from the realm of the imaginary to reality? And yet, COVID-19 showed us that the distance separating the two, is far smaller than we anticipated!
“Distances”: The initial shock that we all, without exception, suffered, when the lockdown measures were brought into effect, in order to minimize the spread of the virus, gave way to the need to find practical solutions, with only a single goal – to not allow our everyday lives to come to a complete standstill. A vital part of our everyday lives is Art, because the distance between the creative world of Art and its spectator, can be found in the first bars of Beethoven’s 5th Symphony!
“Distances”: Having to review one’s completed and creative plans in a short period of time, is, without a doubt, a very difficult endeavor. But under no circumstances did we, as the Municipality of Thessaloniki, want to deprive our city of its Dimitria Festival. And so, we did just that: we drastically reviewed the program for the 55th Dimitria and we adapted it to the new world order we are faced with. It is true that the scale of the productions you will see does not match our original plans – but they do not lack in creativity, artistry, originality and of course, digital skills. Because the distances in Art can be bridged quickly through our transmitters and receivers!
“Distances”: Through the hard days of uncertainty and fear that still affect us all, a new bond springs forth between the individual and its environment. For us, this bond is with our city. Thus, this year’s Dimitria can be interpreted as an open confession of love to our Thessaloniki. On the new digital platform of the Festival, the diamond of the Thermaikos Gulf will shine its light in every corner of the world, through the language of theatre, music and dance, through the city’s unique historical monuments, through her very own History. Because, while it is true that airplanes and cruise ships did not visit us as often as in previous years; nevertheless, Thessaloniki does not seize to search for ways to minimize… distances!
Mayor of Thessaloniki
Deputy Mayor's Greeting
There is no doubt that 2020 radically changed humanity’s experience of everyday life. What we considered normal just a few months ago – a warm hug, a simple handshake, a visit to the theatre, a movie with friends in the cinema – is now dealt with suspicion, or even fear.
This new era comes with its own challenges, the unpredictability of things makes everything ephemeral and dangerous, and the world of culture is called upon this difficult time to fight back, to break the isolation, to inspire, to create.
In these times of uncertainty, culture finds a new outlet for expression through the screen, the impersonal digital code gains an artistic dimension and thus a precious world is created online, transmitting to us the pulse of this year’s Dimitria Festival. The distance will function as an intermediary, who will awaken a different kind of participatory experience, as digital technologies become a means of artistic expression.
“Distances” is the subject of the 55th Dimitria Festival that was chosen by the Municipality of Thessaloniki, the Coordinator of the artistic programing and Artistic Committee of the Festival. We here at the Cultural Department adapted quickly to the new conditions and activated the next step of the process. “Online Art” became our new reality, creating an innovative frame, inside of which culture and society find themselves in a constant process of reform and fluidity. We looked for exciting ideas, artists with a vision, digital content creators with the technical expertise and we created a new online platform, where the virtual stage of the 55th Dimitria Festival will unfold. In this special, yet very promising event, we will present to you a program filled with music, narrations, tributes and dance. This online platform, by the way, will not seize to operate with the conclusion of the Festival, but will remain active, operating as a bridge between the cultural past, creative present and future of our city.
We extend our warmest thanks to the creators and artists for their participation, as well as all the contributors and partners for their invaluable help. We would also like to thank the artistic committee for their prompt response in adjusting the program.
Deputy Mayor for Culture and Tourism
Greetings from the Committee of Artistic Advisers
Planning the artistic schedule for a Festival is – under normal circumstances – a creative challenge for those involved. We all accepted the Mayor of Thessaloniki’s invitation to participate in the Committee of Artistic Advisers with great joy and set out to produce a fulfilling schedule for the 55th Dimitria Festival. We, therefore, started searching for innovative artistic ideas, new productions, collaborations and co-operations, firmly believing that, in the end, the productions we would invite, would add yet another milestone to this historic institution. And, we did indeed succeed, having completed the majority of the programming, leaving out only a few final touches.
But we all experienced first-hand the famous folk wisdom: “When Man makes plans, God laughs.” The onslaught of COVID-19 pressed pause in our everyday lives, forcing us into an involuntary isolation. The world of Culture had to power down completely, and whatever plans we entertained for any live productions for the 55th Dimitria, had to be scrapped.
None of us, however, wanted to leave Thessaloniki without its time-honored traditional Festival. With a renewed will, we set out once again to achieve something unprecedented for our city and began working on a new artistic schedule. During the prolonged period of the lockdown we continued working through videoconferences, searching for solutions to this unique problem we were facing. And, truly, while at first it felt as if we were treading in unchartered waters, we now believe that we have succeeded.
The Dimitria Festival will take place online, on a specially designed platform, commissioned by the Municipality of Thessaloniki. Most productions are by the Department of Culture & Tourism, thus giving the stage to local artists, without leaving international productions out of play. The Festival’s subject, “Distances”, deals with this new reality that humanity in its entirety is experiencing since the beginning of the pandemic. At the same time, this year’s Dimitria Festival brings the city of Thessaloniki to the forefront, since most productions feature our city in one way or another.
We could have abandoned the effort altogether, when the world had to remain isolated out of necessity. Art, however, never ceases. In particular during times of crisis, Art is more important than ever, since it can offer the necessary psychological respite we all require, in order to overcome the difficulties we are faced with.
Therefore, it is our great pleasure to invite you to participate, through this different medium, in the productions of the 55th Dimitria Festival, which we have prepared for you with care and love for everyone and to partake in this common experience.