Founded in 1955, the Athens & Epidaurus Festival assumed its current legal name “Hellenic Festival S.A.” in 1998. Run by a seven-member board of directors for a three-year term, the company operates, according to its founding law, “in favour of public interest by the rules of private economy.” The Festival is financed by a variety of sources, including grants from the state’s regular budget, a percentage of profits from the Parnitha and Corfu casinos, sponsorships, box office tickets, and rental profits. Held annually every summer, the Festival is tasked with organizing musical, theatrical and other types of artistic performances, all of which are meant to contribute to the culture and tourism industry of Greece.
Depending on its activities and seasonal needs, the number of personnel employed at the Festival may vary between 30 and 300, including technical staff (110), ushers (130), cleaners, guards, cashiers (30), and many more.
Up to 2005, performance venues included the Odeon of Herodes Atticus, the two Epidaurus theatres (the Ancient Theatre of Epidaurus and the Little Theatre of Ancient Epidaurus), and the Lycabettus Theatre. During the summer of 2006, a project which sees the expansion of performance venues was put into effect. Four new theatre stages were launched at the former Tsaougoglou factory, at Peiraios 260, courtesy of the National Bank of Greece. In 2017, one extra stage will be launched. It should be noted that various outdoor and closed spaces throughout Attica are also occasionally utilized.
The Athens & Epidaurus Festival, under its current artistic director, Vangelis Theodoropoulos, aims to highlight the work of new Greek artists and promote it on an international level, while also achieving co-productions with world-renowned theatre and dance artists, as well as co-productions and collaborations with regional theatres and institutions from around Greece. Last but not least, the current artistic direction seeks to expand the Festival’s scope and its audience by opening up to the city and organizing various concurrent educational activities.
Furthermore, the year 2017 will see the launch of the Epidaurus Lyceum. An international summer school of ancient Greek drama intended for drama school students and young actors from all over the world, the Lyceum aspires to a reappraisal of our approaches regarding ancient tragedy and comedy, helping bridge the gap between historic tradition and contemporary reality. The Lyceum is expected to become an international meeting point of actors, drama teachers, directors, musicians, choreographers, theatre theorists, anthropologists, and musicologists, as well as a source of spiritual and economic growth for the entire Epidaurus area.