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Maria Vlachou

I am a Cultural Management and Communications consultant. Founding member and Executive Director of Acesso Cultura | Access Culture, working on promoting access – physical, social and intellectual – to cultural participation. In our work, we consider both exogenous and endogenous barriers that hinder the relationship between culture professionals (including artists) and citizens. In recent years, I have written and lectured extensively, both nationally and internationally, on cultural democracy and the possible impact it might have on the quality of political democracy. My texts and presentation may be found on my blog “Musing on Culture”.

What is of particular concern to me is the intellectual arrogance willingly or unwillingly expressed by some culture professionals, having a direct impact on the creation of prejudices and stereotyped ideas many people express regarding Culture and the Arts; the incapacity to communicate with a wider audience, become relevant and bring about true change; the contempt expressed by many people today in what concerns reason and knowledge, reflected on the way they vote for authoritarian leaders in many countries, based on feelings and powered by emotions; the way history is taught in many countries, promoting arrogance and romantic ideas of national goodness and superiority, instead of humility and understanding of our common fate as human beings.

With regards to my education, I have a BA in History and Archaeology (University of Ioannina, Greece); a MA in Museum Studies (University College London); I am an alumna of the DeVos Institute of Arts Management at the Kennedy Center (Washington DC); was a fellow of ISPA – International Society for the Performing Arts (New York). I previously worked for the Municipal Theatre São Luiz and the Pavilion of Knowledge (science centre), both in Lisbon. I have collaborated with the British Council, the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation and ICOM Portugal.

Related articles

The best we can. Re-establishing priorities for arts professionals in times of crisis

Arts professionals think that their work is important for society. Nevertheless, when it comes to defining or formulating this value in concrete terms, most of them fail to do so. Far from being able to establish the relevance of what they do for the people they aim to serve, they often seem to be totally unaware of what is going on around them and little informed on contemporary issues that affect their communities. Cuts in budgets for Culture, shrinking teams and an absurd demand for “doing more with less” have further intensified the disconnect between cultural organisations and society. The uncritical execution of repetitive tasks, therefore, has become a comfortable norm, where there seems to be little place for critical thinking, imagination, creativity and, ultimately, happiness. Can there be a way out from this swamp?


Workshop in Edinburgh: How can art radically imagine new forms of citizenship and empower us to act?

A university created and run by refugees > Social enterprises forged through vulnerable street children creating a circus > Historic injustices and everyday niggles aired and shared through joining a complaints choir > An energy cooperative developed from street parties > A nation-wide exchange economy fuelled through independent music festivals > Urban transport nightmares tackled through graffiti vigilantism > An inclusive cross-generational school fashioned collaboratively inside a recently re-opened nuclear exclusion zone ...


Art and citizenship workshop in Barcelona

Under Power. Care. Municipalism. Creativity. Feminisation. Conviviality. Commoning. Activism. Ethics. Solidarity. Empathy. Internationalism. Citizenship. Generosity. Decolonisation. Collaboration. Storytelling. Agency. Systemic Change. Hope. Non-violence. Learning. Humour. Sociality. Invention. Listening. Diversity. Humility. Resistance. Horizontality. Poetry. Cooperation. Discovery. Artivism. Migration. Rebellion. Vulnerability. Courage. Justice. Sharing. Struggle. Civil Imagination. Lived Experience. Joy...


Artists are citizens: active, creative and responsible

To be an artist without a political responsibility is also a statement. The artists gathered in the group emphasize their citizenship; social and political dimension of their individual, as well as collective work. The main focus of this group is to find that space of creativity, where they could use the imagination in the most expandable manner, but also keep active. Due to the recent COVID 19 crisis, the artists stress the importance of their activist work, but also of collaboration/empathy as one of the most powerful tools of art in general.

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