Integration of Greek Roma people by means of cultural activities
According to the presidential decree no 191/2003 of the Hellenic Republic regulating the function of the Hellenic Ministry of Culture provides with a Section on Intercultural Matters, Directorate of Modern Cultural Heritage. It is responsible for implementing national policies on the integration of Greek Roma people by means of cultural activities; the policy on immigration, which establishes the equal participation of third-country nationals in the Greek society; the prohibition of discrimination, and the raising of awareness within the Greek society; Its objectives are the implementation of social integration projects for individuals from various cultural backgrounds (Roma, immigrants, refugees, persons with disabilities, ex-prisoners or former drug addicts). Its activities focus mainly on conducting research and cataloguing the cultural characteristics of these individuals, as well as promoting their cultural expressions and bringing them closer to cultural institutions of the Greek society.
This process started with the creation in 1999 of an Intercultural Center, located at the district of Ilion, Athens, which operated until 2008. The Center’s objective was to promote social integration of the district’s Roma children, by bringing them closer to Greek cultural heritage and supporting them in developing their individual cultural expressions. The Center’s financial resources from the state budget totaled 200.000 € (2007 - 2008). The main result achieved was the familiarization of target group members with government structures.
In more detail, its activities include:
The organization of seven concerts and two seminars and the production of two educational dossiers for intercultural dialogue in music have also been launched in the framework of the European Year of Intercultural Dialogue 2008. The objective was to raise awareness among the public, contribute to the social integration of musical groups and associations of immigrants, and highlight their individual cultural expressions. To achieve this purpose, the Section on Intercultural Issues worked together with various civil society organizations36. The project was targeted at both Greek citizens and immigrants. It benefited 5.000 persons who attended the concerts as well as musicians and students who will benefit from the educational dossiers. The budget was 136.000 € and it came from national resources and European Union funds.
The Section on Intercultural Matters has implemented since 2003 a policy on museum funding and awareness raising for museum professionals to provide educational programs for Roma and immigrant children. 400 individuals have benefited from these programs. In this framework, a series of events, exhibitions and speeches in 58 museums and archeological departments across the country took place to raise awareness on cultural diversity, understanding of “the other” and multiculturalism. The project took place in May 2011, in the framework of the International Day of Museums, with the collaboration of the Greek branch of the International Council of Museums.
The Section on Intercultural Matters is also putting together a dossier with educational material on Roma culture. Its target group will be the upper classes of the elementary school, and it will serve to raise awareness on the diversity of Roma culture and people, as well as to dissipate stereotypes by means of educational activities, which will establish a creative collaboration between Roma and other children in schools.
Furthermore, there is a project under way to create an Immigration Museum.