Paphos’ mission as European Capital of Culture is to send out the message that the values of humanism and culture must prevail in Europe and the Middle East, mayor Phedonas Phedonos said on Monday.
On Monday, Paphos, along with the Danish town of Aarhus, became the European Capitals of Culture for 2017.
Pafos 2017’s mission “is to send the message to all European countries and in the Middle East, which in recent years is suffering from wars, conflicts and a serious humanitarian crisis, that the values of humanism and culture should prevail,” Phedonos said.
The cultural programme will officially begin on January 21 in Aarhus, while the opening ceremony for Pafos 2017 will take place on January 28 and will be attended by EU Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Management Christos Stylianides, and President Nicos Anastasiades.
“The title of European Capital of Culture is a unique opportunity to bring communities together through culture and to foster strong local, European and international partnerships for the future. I wish Aarhus and Paphos every success for the coming year,” said the EU commissioner for education and culture, Tibor Navracsics.
He added that both cities have come up with programmes “which showcase centuries of culture while using different art forms to address the socio-economic problems facing Europe today”.
‘Linking Continents, Bridging Cultures’ is the common thread running through hundreds of events organised by Pafos 2017, a European Commission announcement said. “The first Cypriot city to host a European Capital of Culture embraces its experiences of multiculturalism and its geographical proximity to the Middle East and North Africa to strengthen relations between countries and cultures.”
The opening ceremony for Pafos 2017, which is inspired by one of the themes for the year’s cultural programme ‘Myth and Religion’, was designed by a team of Cypriot artists in cooperation with the group Walk the Plank. It aims to illustrate the history, multiculturalism and contemporary culture of Paphos as an integral part of the broader European civilisation.
The event is inspired by the legend of Paphos which centred on the myth of Pygmalion and Galatea. Pygmalion was a mythical king of Cyprus and a sculptor. He carved an exquisite statue, Galatea, with whom he fell in love and when he kissed her she came to life. According to the legend, they had a child after their union was blessed by Aphrodite. They named the child Paphos, and the city where the mythical couple is said to have lived is named after the couple’s offspring.
Hundreds of professionals from around the island, organised groups, volunteers, students and young children will take part. As part of the programme, Greek Cypriot and Turkish musicians and singers will join in as well as a jazz orchestra from Aarhus.
The opening ceremony will also include a spectacle of lights and sound, while Greek singer Alkistis Protopsalti and other artists will have a central role in the ceremony.
“New life will be given to the myth of Pygmalion and Galatea and other narratives from the history of Pafos in a unique spectacle of music and dance,” the commission said. During the opening weekend on January28-29, the city will be converted into an Open Air Factory with numerous shows and artistic performances.
It added that Paphos is set to become an immense open stage “where a tradition of thousands of years of cultural life in open spaces meets contemporary ways of creating, thinking and living”.
Aarhus 2017 will launch its cultural programme with children at the heart of the celebrations. Hundreds of children from the central Denmark region will gather in Aarhus to imagine the future in a series of events entitled ‘Land of Wishes’. “As night falls during the opening ceremony on January 21, a spectacular show filled with pageantry, Viking spirits and gods in the sky will mark the start of the city’s year as European Capital of Culture,” the commission said.