SUPPORT EMBROS: SOCIETY AND CULTURE UNDER THREAT IN GREECE
The historical building of Riga Palamidi 2 of Embros was built in 1933 and till 1985 housed the printing facilities of EMBROS newspaper. In 1988 the Public Real Estate Corporation leased the building to the theatre director Tassos Bantis.
The theatrical company "Morfes" and later the "Embros Theater Company" were housed in the building until the death of Tassos Bantis. During those years EMBROS drew large audiences and became one of the most important Athenian theatres. In 1989, the Ministry of Culture declared the building a “historical monument.”
This deserted building, abandoned after the death of T. Bantis, was occupied in November 2011 by Mavili Collective – a small group of artists and theoreticians. The occupancy installed itself as a “re-activation” and proposed initially an intense twelve-day program of activities bringing together artists, theoreticians, dance/theatre makers, architects and the general public. Mavili Collective continued to operate within the space after the reactivation and produced a dense program of cultural events for about one year.
During this period, over 500 Greek and foreign artists, academics, activists and theorists participated in events organized and produced by the Mavili Collective, in collaboration with local inhabitants and the “Psirri residents movement,” and also many other collectives and groups of the city. All events were free for the public.
A year later ETAD, a new company responsible for selling national assets announced the potential rental of the theatre and demanded Mavili Collective evacuate EMBROS. In a time of crisis, where the Greek state had proven and still is, unable or perhaps unwilling to support the arts and culture and to create social structures, the salvation of EMBROS was of vital importance. Over 2000 signatures were collected in support of EMBROS. Crucially many artists, theorists and activists, felt the urgent need to actively defend the space, a fact which resulted in a further widening of the participants of the occupation, which in the last year operates with an Open Assembly as its organizing body and under the name "Free Self-managed Theater EMBROS ".
Since November 2012, EMBROS functions as an open cultural and social space and hosts performances, exhibitions, screenings, concerts, seminars, discussions and social activities. The operational models are always in process, constantly testing modes and forms that can support its cultural and social role as an experimental common good in the heart of the city. At the same time EMPROS has established relations with other spaces, in Greece and abroad and is supported by other occupancies, social spaces, research centers and cultural institutions across Europe.
In September 2013, EMBROS was once again forcibly closed, this time from TAIPED -Hellenic Republic Asset Development Fund (HRADF), a company responsible for the auctioning and privatizing of public assets, which appears as the new owner of the space. However, the legal documents for this transition seem vague and imprecise and the space is not properly described nor located with its exact address. Although the space re-opened a few days after its closure, on October 30th two actors were arrested and evicted with a series of charges.
EMBROS has already received numerous expressions of solidarity from Greece and abroad. Your support at this stage is vital for the continuity of EMBROS and also for the two arrested actors who will be tried in court ιn the next couple of months.
In response and resistance to the authoritarian, repressive policy of the current government, to the privatization of public property, and the government’s imposed motto of "order and security" applied by the police, EMBROS remains open today and invites you all to participate in all its actions.
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On October 30, 2013 two actors were arrested in the theater EMBROS during rehearsal. Both are indicted with charges of "the breaching of seals, disrupting domestic peace and persistent occupation of public buildings." This unimaginable arrest is the culmination of the Greek state's attack on a space, which in the last two years and in the middle of the economic crisis has become a nexus of alternative cultural and social action for the city of Athens.
The EMBROS theatre -that remained closed and deserted for years by the Greek state- was re-activated in November 2011 and operates as an artistic self-managed space. EMBROS, through its cultural and social activities, its ties with the neighborhood, its connection with other self-managed spaces as well as being supported by an important part of the Greek and international artistic and academic community, has become a hub for artistic creation and experimentation and a core for social solidarity and political activism. EMBROS opposes any commercialization and exclusion and operates as a common good for the neighborhood and the city.
We, who participate in the Open Assembly of the Free Self-managed theater EMBROS, invite all those who have participated or visited EMBROS in the past - artists, academics, theorists, politicians and social activists, but also all those who consider the existence of free, self-managed artistic and social spaces vital for society - to demonstrate their support not only in the trial of the two actors, which will take place in the next couple of months, but also in our overall effort to keep EMBROS alive and active. We invite you all to resist with us against government authoritarianism and the selling off public property and, to support the freedom of artistic creation and social solidarity.
Please sign the petition here stating your name and your profession.