Athens Botanical Garden: Free Social Center
By Chris Spannos at Nov 14, 2009
[Originally in Greek. Special thanks to Athens anti-authoritarian movement friends for translating.]
Question: What is the Botanical Garden? What were the prospects when it was built? How has it been used by the municipality;
Answer: It was a project of the Environment and Constructions Ministry which was not designed properly, since as a model it was [conditioned on] the botanical garden in Copenhagen without taking into account the special climate conditions in Greece. Thus it was never used as a Botanical Garden.
The building of glass, up today is in poor condition, completely destroyed and [is reminiscent] more of a dump. Nobody mentions anymore the huge amounts which were spent to construct it. The auxiliary building over the past half year has also been abandoned and has been seriously damaged and vandalized. We found the building dissolved, full of trash and shit.
Question: Why have we occupied the place?
Answer: We decided to occupy these two abandoned buildings to bring life back to them, to transform them to an area of cultural creation, where ecological and social activities can take place, open to the whole society. A place away from ideological preconceptions and excuses! A Free, Public & Social Area!
Question: How will the "Botanical Garden" be Free as a Social Space?
Answer: We suggest the self-organization and self-management of the place through open meetings where we practice the direct democracy.
We seek to transform the Botanical Garden in a daily meeting place of political reflexion and cultural expression through:
• Film screenings
• Theatrical Performances and Concerts
• Artistic Expositions
• Courses (Theater, Screenplay, Direction, Music, Dance, Foreign Languages, Computers, Greek language for immigrants and assistant teaching for school students)
We call everyone to participate in the formation and the management of the place.
Question: Does the occupation of the Botanical Garden by the people prevent the Theater Lab of Petroupolis and the other creative activities once housed in the Botanical from existing?
Answer: Since a year, the activities of painting and pottery were housed in another building.
The fact that the Theater Lab of Petroupolis is not housed in the Botanical Garden, or elsewhere, is solely due to decisions of the Cultural Center.
More specifically the last 3 years, as the students of the lab confess, the Theater Workshop has been reformed and, in fact, 2 of the 5 days of its operation have been eliminated. In 2006, there was an attempt of the Cultural Center to halt the lessons of the Workshop and to substituted them with seminars of voluntary presence.
This proposal resulted in the strong opposition of the students who, however, did not managed to recover the 2 lost days of the courses.
In May of 2009 it was announced to students of the laboratory the establishment of the official Dramatic School of the City of Petroupolis and there was no formal assurance that the workshop will to continue to operate properly.
In fact in the official website of the cultural center there are announcements about all the other activities of the Cultural Center and the Dramatic School except for the Theater Lab, long before the occupation of the building. (http://www.pkdp.gr/site2/index.php?option=com_content&task=blogsection&id=5&Itemid=28&limit=9&limitstart=0).
We call on all the theater groups, the people who love the theater and those who can share their knowledge with us to turn the Botanical Garden to an open forum of theatrical, self-managed, education and creativity.
General Open Meeting: Every Sunday at 18.00