Launching a youth card and a bill to regulate the status of artists in addition to overseeing the completion of the construction of the New Cyprus Museum are the priorities for Deputy Minister of Culture, Vasiliki Kassianidou.
Speaking to the Cyprus News Agency after taking up the post in July following the resignation of her predecessor Michalis Hadjiyiannis, she also underlined the potential impact of culture on the local economy, citing tourism as an example.
She said other projects underway include the bill on the artist status, the taxation of donations (that is, being able to make a donation to culture which is tax-deductible), the upgrading and support of culture through festivals and theatre, the ‘Thymeli’ scheme, as well as the promotion of culture in all sectors.
“We have to show that culture can be a source of economic resources. We can also make use of culture to bring more quality tourism to Cyprus,” she said. But it is not just about tourism. “I am very interested in spreading culture to Cypriots, not only to foreigners, not only to children, but also to adults, so that they can get closer to our modern and ancient culture”.
Speaking about the ways in which cultural decentralisation can be achieved in Cyprus, Kassianidou spoke about the Kypria Festival, which has changed form, since it now sponsors smaller festivals that take place all over the island. Another way, as she says, is to strengthen activities such as the Larnaca Biennale, a renowned event in which foreign artists now also participate.
“There are also areas that need help such as the free area of Famagusta,” she added. “Culture is also necessary, apart from the sea, the hotels and entertainment. The people of the area want to develop and strengthen the culture there”.
As for the deputy ministry itself, she said, the administration has been consolidated with officials from other services, although the structure will be strengthened in the coming months.
Until recently, the two major departments of the deputy ministry, namely the Department of Antiquities and the Department of Modern and Contemporary Culture (the former Cultural Services) were part of two very large ministries, which had many other issues to deal with. “Now these two departments are the main pillars of the deputy ministry, so there is much more direct cooperation and it is much easier to access and solve the issues,” she said.
Her vision, Kassianidou said, is “for culture to come forward, to be what characterises Cyprus, to make Cypriot culture known outside the borders of our island, to make Cyprus a destination for cultural activities, both for our ancient and our new culture, and to do everything we can to support artists from all cultural fields”.