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First they sacked the orch. Now, they’re selling the concert hall.

Expressions of sympathy and solidarity rolled in from around the world when the Greek government shut down public broadcasting, throwing an orchestra on the scrapheap. Tonight, we learn that the government intends to sell off the Megaron concert hall in Athens, which is crippled with  debt payments.

There are two concert stages in the complex, one with 1,960 seats and the other 494. The smaller one is named after Dmitri Mitropoulos, sometime chief conductor of the New York Philharmonic and mentor to Leonard Bernstein (who deposed him). It would be a shame to see his name disappear.


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  1. I suppose one could say that action adds new meaning to the phrase ‘adding insult to injury’.

  2. What a gorgeous hall! It sounds so sad on the face of it but in the long run, privatizing this venue and the ensembles that go with it will allow them to reorganize and make something better. Clearly they weren’t utilizing this asset all that well. Given the way the Greek ran their own government, would you want them running your orchestra or concert hall? This could be a great oppertunity for a wealthy music lover who wants to make a positive mark on the birthplace of western culture.

    • Michael Schaffer says:

      Sounds like a neat idea. But how would investing money in Egypt help Greek music life?

  3. PK Miller says:

    The rulers of Greece would sell their grandmothers to save their own hides & hide obvious fiscal mismanagement. They have absolutely no shame nor clue as to how to really begin to resolve the country’s financial problems.

  4. Sounds similar to earlier suggestions on this blog of privatising the South Bank Centre in the UK. Neither sound like a particularly bad idea per se.
    Is there any need for the Greek government to actually own a concert hall? Do we care more about them supporting players / musicians / artists, wherever they perform, or about them owning infrastructure?

  5. Juanita says:

    Makes sense actually, this country has to cut down its debt, this is a good move, it doesn’t mean it will stop being a concert hall.
    On top of that, this concert hall had unrealistic rental fees! For the small hall of 494 seats, they were asking for 4.900€ + VAT 23% per day (this didn’t include any promotion, advertisement, not even a piano); for that insane price, even the smaller hall of the Carnegie Hall or Wigmore Hall are cheaper.

  6. Michael Schaffer says:

    That’s not quite what the article says. It says that the government as guarantor has to step in to pay the enormous debts run up by the Megaron, not that it is being sacrificed to help pay the debts of the government – then they want to look into privatizing the operation. So the blame here seems to rest on the Megaron management.

  7. Alexandros Rigas says:

    Of course, regarding the National TV, it has been now announced by the Governement that the new Greek public TV will hire 2000 employees (instead of 700 as initially announced in order to substantiate the sudden shut down) to staff it. Most of them will be apparently out of the “fired” ones which of course have been compensated acc. to the Law by getting 8 to 15 tax free monthly salaries (or more). Ridiculous to say the least.

  8. Alexandros says:

    And this is the statement of the employees publiched today:

  9. Megaron (which actually houses also the music library of Greece and also has a full functional opera stage of 1.750 seats, with access to La Scala productions, was built on site in the second phase of the development in 2004)
    But above all the building does not belong to the Greek State but they have been bankrolling the deficit of the last few years. It was built by the Society of Friends of Music, which started its fundraising with a donation by Maria Callas in 1957.
    Having visited the Hall many times when I was growing up in Athens I can tell you that it is a much better venue than anything London has to offer. But it seems the operating framework has failed and a solution has to be found. It will be dreadful a cultural gem of European importance to end up covered in cobwebs.

    Of course this crisis has an even more interesting aspect…the new Stavros Niarchos Foundation opera house and national library complex being built a few miles away. Because of which, the National Opera (itself mired by strikes and bad management) has withdrawn from presenting opera performances at Megaron, thus removing a source of income from the embattled Hall.

    Maybe our friend Gianna Daskalaki could spent some of her money on rescuing the Hall, instead of writing books on how great she is and her running of the Athens Olympic Games (

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