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Thessaloniki slaughterhouse as a cultural laboratory

15 December 2015 / 19:12:19  GRReporter
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"I.e. what exactly will happen here? If not exhibitions and concerts, I do not understand ..."

During the first event to introduce the new cultural space in Thessaloniki slaughterhouse on Sunday evening, a man from the audience stood up and asked the question that occupied the minds of all who were present.

Their surprise is natural. But the answer is much more complicated. And that is the valuable thing, as Mayor Yiannis Boutaris and his associates at Thessaloniki Municipality made clear, while trying to present a new and bold endeavour.

Venue: in the port area, not in its central and developed part but in the west and run-down region, a wonderful building of the 19th century will have a second life. The venture will have a truly cultural tinge, but not in the one-dimensional way which we are used to today.

Goal: the fully restored slaughterhouse that was built in 1896 called "LAB - ATTOIR" (a pun, something between Laboratoire and Abattoir-slaughterhouse) will become a true experiment of Thessaloniki Municipality, with eyes towards the future. The ‘godmother’ is Deputy Mayor for Cultural Affairs Eli Chrisidou.

And no, not only exhibitions or concerts will happen there. The ambition of the municipality is to provide a place for the expression of different population groups - from students to the unemployed or migrants. How will this happen? The first event to which seven official guests were invited has already set the tone. "Mobilising all creative individuals and groups in the city, hoping to listen to what is happening around us and create a socially interactive mechanism to produce culture, the author will be the catalyst and the citizen a ‘co-producer’", explained Christos Savidis who along with Lydia Hatziyakovou of Artbox will be artistic directors under the supervision of the municipality. "To sum up in one sentence, we would call it Art for Social Change."

Thessaloniki mayor, Eli Chrisidou and Deputy Mayor for Tourism Spyros Pengas spoke at the event as well as Vangelis Lyakos, one of the founders of the graphic designers group Beetroot that has been awarded repeatedly, Thanassis Polichronakis, a web designer and member of the SKG group and business expert, Dimitris Goulis, principal of the 67th Primary School that is located in the area, who has been also awarded for his innovative project for experience based learning that involves students, as well as architect Giannis Epaminondas from the Cultural Foundation of the National Bank, specialist in Thessaloniki history. They all stressed the need for cooperation, coordinated actions and for a positive attitude towards applied creation at a time when society is subjected to numerous tests.

"LAB - ΑTTOIR" will become Thessaloniki’s response to many public and political issues, focusing initially on the very neighbourhood, which is among the underprivileged ones in the city, inhabited by migrants and Roma. The programme will be planned after an open dialogue, without prejudices and stereotypes, hoping to reflect the wishes and dreams of the people who would not go to a cultural event but may live nearby.

The second ‘warm-up’ event will take place next Saturday. It will be a seminar on "The role of culture and art for social change in the sustainable development of a city." For more information, visit: www.labattoir.

Tags: SlaughterhouseThessalonikiCultural spaceLAB ATTOIR
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