NEON Founder Dimitris Daskalopoulos Gifts New Cultural Space to Athens Conservatory

The space will open at the culmination of IdeasCity Athens.

Dimitris Daskalopoulos Photo by Trevor Leighton

Greek collector and founder of the NEON Organization for Culture & Development, Dimitris Daskalopoulos, has funded the refurbishment of a new art space within the Athens Conservatory which will open on Saturday September 24, at the culmination of the Ideas City Athens Residency program.

The renovation will see the space, a basement which has been out of use for forty years, transformed into an exhibition space. But although NEON is footing the bill for the €180,000 refurbishment, the space will not be used by the organization but will remain under the cultural programming of the Athens Conservatory, a music and drama school.

“ΝΕΟΝ, in keeping with its principle that ‘our space is the city’, revives one more unknown space of Athens,” Daskalopoulos said in a statement. “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.”

Chairman of the board of the Music and Drama Society at Athens Conservatory, Nikos Tsouchlos, voiced his joy that the space was finally functioning again after such a long time.

“Situated in the heart of the capital, the emblematic building of the Athens Conservatoire has been dormant for over four decades as a result of public abandonment and national indifference,” Tsouchlos said in the statement, released by NEON.

The Bauhaus-influenced building, designed by Ioannis Despotopoulos—a student of  Walter Gropius—is 13,000 square meters in size. The original plan for the space has never been realized due to financial and social issues but there are now plans to renovate the other parts of the building with help from the European Union.

The new space will open on the public day of the Ideas City Athens, a collaboration with the New Museum-backed IdeasCity and NEON. Saturday’s event will be a culmination of a five-day residency program which boasts speakers such as John Akomfrah, Hito Steyerl, and Tania Bruguera.

In November, NEON will stage “Flying Over the Abyss” in the space, featuring artists such as Jenny Holzer, Matthew Barney, Hans Bellmer, and Kostas Ioannidis, before handing it back to the Athens Conservatory.

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