small states on un-certain stereotypes

Interview with Yiannis Toumazis - Director of the Nicosia Municipal Arts Center, Cyprus

Nicosia, April 2005

YIANNIS TOUMAZIS – The Nicosia Municipal Arts Center is associated with the Pierides Foundation. It was inaugurated in January 1994 and is housed in the old power station, which is the most important industrial building in the old part of Nicosia. At the time, it was quite an innovative move to transform an industrial building into a cultural center specialized in contemporary art. The building was restored to its original condition while meeting all the prerequisites for a contemporary art center. In 1994 it was awarded the Europa Nostra Award for the skillful restoration. Most importantly, the Municipality of Nicosia decided to cooperate with the private sector—in this case the Pierides Foundation, one of the oldest private cultural institutions in Cyprus—and it set a very good example for successful cooperation in the field of culture. Our task and aim from the beginning was to open windows and build bridges in order to connect Cyprus with the outside world. In the beginning this was not easy, since we had restricted policies for bringing things from abroad, but I think, considering all the important collaborations with foreign institutions, we have managed quite well over the years. (...) We are specialized in contemporary art, but we have also mounted historical exhibitions. Now we are presenting more experimental shows. I think that our audience is growing with us, too; we are facing more and more challenges, and I think one of the main reasons that Manifesta 6 is coming to Cyprus is the e xistence of the Nicosia Arts Center, which will be the headquarters for Manifesta 6. With the Pierides Foundation, we have also managed to undertake large European Union projects such as “Crossings: Movements of People, Movement of Cultures". (interview extract)