NEON Organisation for Culture & Development has collaborated with the Athens Conservatoire on the opening of a new public cultural centre. The space, which remained closed for forty years in the first basement of the historic Conservatoire building, will be officially unveiled by ΝΕΟΝ, which funded its 180,000 Euro refurbishment, on Saturday 24 September 2016.
The new 1,800 sq. m venue will open this Autumn with two ΝΕΟΝ projects: IdeasCity Athens, an international forum that explores the future of cities in collaboration with New York’s New Museum (19 – 24 September), and the touring group exhibition Flying Over the Abyss (16 November 2016 – 31 January 2017). The venue will then remain under the Athens Conservatoire’s management, to be used for forthcoming cultural events.
Since its inception in 2013, ΝΕΟΝ has been realising the aspirations of its founder, Dimitris Daskalopoulos, to bring contemporary art closer to the public, whilst at the same time, collaborating with cultural institutions to make use of venues that often remain untapped. ΝΕΟΝ’s mission is to highlight these venues of historic value, and bring them to the forefront of cultural activity in an effort to enhance the citizens’ everyday experience through encounters with contemporary art within the city.
To this effect, ΝΕΟΝ has organised public exhibitions and contemporary art events in Athenian landmarks such as the Gennadius Library and the French School at Athens, and in archaeological sites including the Ancient Agora, the Roman Agora and Kerameikos Cemetery.
The Athens Conservatoire, with a contribution of 150 years in the field of performing arts, has embarked on a mission to expand its cultural activities amidst a constantly changing economic, social and political environment, rationalising and reforming its operations and modernising its educational program.
The new cultural venue is housed in the first lower level basement of the Conservatoire’s building. The space extends into an expansive atrium, an open-air courtyard which enhances the building’s overall cohesion.
The project involved extensive cleaning operations aimed at showcasing the architectural integrity of the design choices of I. Despotopoulos, and some small-scale redesign in the interests of health and safety, in order for the building to operate as a fully functioning exhibition venue.
Mr. Dimitris Daskalopoulos, founder of ΝΕΟΝ, says “ΝΕΟΝ, in keeping with its principle that “our space is the city”, revives one more unknown space of Athens. When I first saw this abandoned venue, so full of potential, I considered it my obligation to undertake its restoration.”
“It is a great joy for me that our refurbishment program has resulted in a new cultural venue which we are now handing over to the public of Athens. I hope that at this adverse juncture, the exquisite venue will be a positive contribution to the Conservatoire’s ambitious program of cultural activities,” he added.