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Our View: State should consider renting out archaeological sites

Curium
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A BIG FUSS was made in the social media and some papers because the Antiquities Department gave permission for a private concert to be held at the ancient Curium amphitheatre. It was inaccurately reported that a wedding reception had been held there for the son of the former DISY deputy Maria Kyriakou.

Ms Kyriakou had secured permission for the use of Curium for an opera staged exclusively for some 500 guests, including 200 from abroad, invited to her son’s wedding, which was held the following day, and there was also reception. The fact is the Antiquities Department grants permission to companies and individuals to hold cultural events at the amphitheatre but not for wedding receptions. However, some claimed that Kyriakou had tricked the authorities by having the wedding reception before the wedding.

The deputy head of the Antiquities Department, Giorgos Philotheou was stung by the criticism and told one newspaper that the permission was granted because the Department did not consider a wedding reception would have taken place. It did not, but pandering to the press, Philotheou said the Department would be stricter in granting permission for the use of archaeological sites. He spoke like a true, narrow-minded public employee. Why should archaeological sites not be rented out for private functions, including a few wedding receptions every year?

High rental rates should be charged and security staff from the department should be present to ensure that guests showed respect for the site. There are plenty of wealthy people who would be willing to pay premium rates in order to stage an event or hold a function in the magical setting of the Curium. We are sure there would be people willing to pay €50,000 for the privilege of having a wedding reception at Curium. The cash generated by hiring out archaeological sites could be used to improve the island’s sites and upgrade facilities, which are very basic if they exist. The department could also hire staff so that the opening hours of sites are not governed by public service office hours, closing at 2.30pm.

Of course such a radical move would require a political decision followed by drastic change of mindset of public servants that run the Antiquities Department. It would also require planning, rules and regulations that would govern the hiring, a steep, pricing policy plus management with commercial acumen. Large amounts of money could be made by the Antiquities Department through such an initiative, money that could be re-invested in the upgrading and better promotion of all archaeological sites.

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