A large celebration, open to all, marked the completion of the delivery of the Stavros Niarchos Foundation Cultural Center (SNFCC) by the Stavros Niarchos Foundation (SNF) to its permanent owner, the Greek State and, by extension, to the Greek society, the citizens and daily visitors of the SNFCC. During this special moment in the project’s progress, thousands of people actively participated in the day’s events and happenings, confirming, through their presence, that the SNFCC belongs to all.
The official delivery ceremony was attended by the country’s political and state leadership, foreign ambassadors, friends of the SNF, SNFCC Members and a large crowd of people, who arrived in order to be a part of this special day.
The event opened with the screening of a short video on the history of the SNFCC, and was followed by speeches by the President of the Hellenic Republic, Mr. Prokopis Pavlopoulos, Co-President and Director of the SNF, Mr. Andreas Dracopoulos and the Prime Minister, Mr. Alexis Tsipras. Following the speeches, the Minister of Finance, Mr. Euclid Tsakalotos, along with the SNF’s Chief Financial Officer, Mrs. Christina Lambropoulou, signed the agreement transferring SNFCC SA’s only share to the Greek State by means of a gift, on the stage of the packed Stavros Niarchos Hall.
The signing was followed by an original artistic program, which attempted to highlight both the diversity of events that can be hosted in the premises of the SNFCC, as well as the technical capabilities of the stage. The program was presented as a mosaic of different art expressions, and culminated with the appearance of internationally renowned soprano Sumi Jo, who performed the famous aria Casta Diva from Bellini’s opera, Norma. Onstage performances, video screenings, events in all corners of the SNFCC, smaller and larger artistic groups, composed a free festival, open to all. The event featured the Ballet, the Children’s Choir and the Adult Choir of the Greek National Opera, the ERT National Symphony Orchestra, Natassa Bofiliou, Alkinoos Ioannidis and the Baroque Ensemble, the Lyceum Club of Greek Women, George Kontrafouris on piano, street dancers, skaters and roller bladers, alongside video screenings of readings by famous actors, curated by the National Library of Greece. The artistic program was under the direction of Thomas Moschopoulos.
The evening was concluded with a unique party featuring fireworks, music and dancing, at the SNFCC’s Agora.
Ten years after the initiation of the creation process for the Stavros Niarchos Foundation Cultural Center, the vision for the coexistence, under a single “roof”, of the National Library of Greece, the Greek National Opera and an educational, cultural, sports and leisure Park, is now a reality.
The project’s significance, the vision and the expectations of the Foundation found their ideal exponent in renowned architect, Renzo Piano, who—with his talent and commitment to designing truly public spaces—created a building that “breathes” to the rhythm of the city. Thousands of workers and employees of every specialty contributed throughout the SNFCC’s journey of creation; people from Greece and abroad, construction consultants and project managers, participants in apprenticeship programs, and many others.
The Stavros Niarchos Foundation Cultural Center is the SNF’s largest single gift, with the project’s budget totaling $867 million (€630 million).
Upon delivery of the SNFCC to the Greek State, the SNF withdraws fully from the project’s management. However, the Foundation will continue to actively support the SNFCC for the next five years, with grants of up to €50 million and to organize—through exclusive grants—free to the public, one-week-long events at the SNFCC, every June.
Moreover, the SNF will continue to put into practice its central philosophy, to develop and support philanthropic actions and initiatives which in turn offer support to those in need, and have a lasting, positive impact for society.
From the very first moment it opened its doors to the public in August 2016, the SNFCC has managed to attract visitors of all ages through the versatility of its facilities and its wide range of cultural events, and to become an urban, cultural, educational and environmental landmark of international caliber.
Today, with the support of 47,000 Members, and even more thousands of friends and visitors, the SNFCC looks ahead to the next day with vigor and optimism, highlighting Greece’s cultural and educational legacy and offering its visitors unique experiences in knowledge, culture, health and leisure.
“With this priceless gift of material, but mainly cultural, significance—the Stavros Niarchos Foundation continues—deservedly so—the emblematic tradition of our Nation’s Great Benefactors. This gift is all the more significant for Greece as it enables it—during this extremely critical juncture when both the nation and the people of Greece are being tested under adverse conditions—to prove the following reality, historically documented under conditions of uninterrupted timelessness: that Greece treads through the centuries, shining its light to all Humanity, regardless of the economic and social conditions the country is experiencing. Because Greece is and will be, above all, Spirit and Culture. This is what makes it the birthplace and the cradle of modern Western Civilization. Without the inspiration and symbolism of Greece, this Civilization will deteriorate, with all the inevitable—literally irreparable to mankind—implications.“
“The Stavros Niarchos Foundation chose to offer something, at a time when most others choose only to receive. And I would like to reaffirm that the Greek people as a whole, deeply appreciate the enormous importance of this initiative. The economic value of the project may be significant in itself, but its cultural value is even greater.
In a country where culture defines our national capital, the possibilities created with this Cultural Center are vast, and can have a positive ripple effect. Not only for cultural events of international scope which will highlight the city of Athens and Greece as a nation. But also for the promotion and the support of our domestic cultural production which is at a very high level in terms of human resources and results, but also has every opportunity to elevate to even higher standards.”
“Today is a day of joy for us because, after a journey of more than 10 years, we deliver the keys of the Stavros Niarchos Foundation Cultural Center to its real owners, the Greek people. For all of us at the Stavros Niarchos Foundation, the SNFCC encapsulates the countless possibilities and prospects of our country, for which we will continue to strive. We are very proud that we managed to create a “crack”, as Leonard Cohen would say, through which the light can get in. We are even prouder still, for the hundreds of employees and associates from all fields, who made the SNFCC a reality, but also for the warm way in which the visitors, all of you, embraced and are indeed already preserving the SNFCC. It is now Yours!
About the Stavros Niarchos Foundation
The Stavros Niarchos Foundation (www.SNF.org) is one of the world’s leading private international philanthropic organizations, making grants in the areas of arts and culture, education, health and sports, and social welfare. The Foundation funds organizations and projects that are expected to achieve a broad, lasting and positive impact for society at large, focusing on vulnerable groups such as children and the elderly, and also exhibit strong leadership and sound management.
The Foundation also seeks actively to support projects that facilitate the formation of public-private partnerships as an effective means for serving public welfare. In 2012, the Foundation, in addition to its standard grant-making activities, embarked on three major grant initiatives totaling $378mil (€300 mil) aiming to provide relief support against the severe effects of the deepening socioeconomic crisis in Greece, and to help address the critical issue of youth unemployment.
Since 1996, the SNF has made grant commitments of $1.9 billion / €1.6 billion, through 3,706 grants to nonprofit organizations in 111 nations around the world. 2016 marked the twentieth year of the Stavros Niarchos Foundation’s global philanthropic activity.