About Cyprus


Cultural Policy
The Ministry of Education and Culture is responsible for formulating and implementing the cultural policy of the Government through its Cultural Services.

The responsibility that falls within the competence of the Cultural Services is to awaken cultural awareness by fostering the creative drive in the field of Letters and Arts both in individuals and groups, making culture available to all, so that there is a greater participation and receptiveness on behalf of the public and disseminating and projecting cultural achievements abroad in order to highlight its links with international culture.

Literature - Books
Literature has a long tradition in Cyprus and in the last 30 years there has been a marked improvement both in quality and quantity. Today, more than 250 literary books are published annually and several literary magazines are issued.

In order to encourage Cypriot writers in their meritorious intellectual activity the Cultural Services have institutionalised a number of State Prizes for:
(a) Literature (since 1969) awarded biennially for poetry, novel, short-story and essay, and new writers under the age of 27.
(b) Children%26rsquo;s Literature, awarded biennially since 1976.
(c) Awards for Excellence, awarded annually since 1993 for outstanding contribution to the cultural life of the island.
(d) Young Cypriot Writer - book selected for printing.

The task of selecting the awards out of the works submitted is carried out by the Advisory Committee of Letters which is appointed and chaired by a Cultural Officer. The Cultural Services purchase about 200 books of Cyprological content or literary books by Cypriot writers in order to support their work, and by distributing them to overseas libraries and universities systematically promotes contemporary Cypriot literature. Recommendations for the purchase of literary publications are also made by an Advisory Committee. Within the framework of the same policy, the Cultural Services organise book fairs in Cyprus, participate in International Book Fairs abroad (Frankfurt, Bologna, Cairo etc), keep record of Cypriot publications etc. (Cypriot bibliography), have associated Cyprus with the international system of registering books and periodicals (ISBN, ISSN) and have established a centre of library cooperation through which Cyprus lends and borrows books on an international scale.

The publications programme of the Cultural Services is a substantial part within the framework of activities of the services aiming to promote, distribute and support the Cypriot book publications. The programme itself includes five series:
- General Series (anthologies, albums, symposia proceedings etc),
- Cypriot Folk Poetry Series,
- Greek Literature of Cyprus Series,
- Young Cypriot Writers Series and
- Memorial Lectures Series.

There is also an English periodical “Cyprus Today%26rdquo; which covers all cultural activity on the island. It is distributed to libraries and ministries in Cyprus but is mainly aimed at the Cyprus diaspora and has circulation of 15.000 copies.

In pursuit of its aim of making good books accessible to the reading public, the Cultural Services are systematically concerned with libraries. Thus Municipal Libraries are offered subsidies to enable them to purchase books and new rural public libraries have been established in order to create focuses of culture in small communities (there are 95 of them so far).

The Cultural Services organise scientific seminars, symposia, and lectures throughout Cyprus. Within the concept of decentralisation, lectures are also delivered in rural communities. Speakers deal with topics of wide interest ranging from literature, education, psychology, art, cinema, environment and architectural heritage. A welcome novelty has been the live music performed to support the music lectures and a mobile exhibition accompanying the art lectures.

In the field of music, the Cyprus State Chamber Orchestra and the State Youth Orchestra were both created in 1987 by decision of the Council of Ministers, after years of arduous efforts on behalf of the Cultural Services. At present, the C.S.C.O. prepares approximately 10 series of concerts which are performed on a permanent basis in all major towns in the free part of the island. In addition to that, it gives regular concerts in schools and occasional concerts on various occasions.

The C.S.Y.D., consisting of 70 members aged 11-25, prepares 2-3 programmes a year which are presented in the major towns. A 10-day annual summer school is also organised for additional individual and group tuition and training in chamber music.

The Cultural Services also organise concerts of Cypriot artists who reside permanently abroad and of foreign groups invited within the framework of the programme of cultural exchanges between Cyprus and other countries.

Associations - Foundations
The Cultural Services provide financial aid to nearly 80 associations or foundations which are interested in cultural development. Financial support and assistance are also offered to municipalities in organising local art festivals. Within the concept of cultural decentralisation encouragement is given to private initiative too and occasional grants are offered.

The Cultural Services provide financial aid to Cyprus folk dance groups and to modern dance groups. Groups are also encouraged to perform abroad. Seminars are organised to provide a basis of study of the traditional Cypriot dances in order to avoid alienation of regional dances and to improve performance.

Visual Arts
The Cultural Services organise exhibitions of contemporary Cypriot artists both in Cyprus and abroad as well as exhibitions which come within the framework of cultural exchanges with foreign countries or in collaboration with overseas museums and institutions of art.

The Cultural Services also arrange and support the participation of Cypriot artists in large international exhibitions such as the Biennials of Art in Venice, Sao Paolo, Alexandria, India, Cairo, the Biennial of Young Artists of the Mediterranean etc.

In order to enhance, support and promote the work of Cypriot artists, a number of their works of art is selected by a special committee (chaired by a Cultural Officer) for purchase to enrich the State%26rsquo;s Art Collection.

The State Gallery of Contemporary Art - inaugurated in 1990 - has been set up by the Cultural Services.
It contains about 160 works by 77 Cypriot artists. The neo-classical building which accommodates the works serves as a permanent museum of Cypriot art but occasionally it houses temporary exhibitions. Besides the exhibition area, there is a specialised art library on the same premises which contains art publications, exhibition catalogues and a large variety of international art magazines and periodicals. It operates as a study centre and a point of reference for artists and students.

A system of financial aid and other assistance is being implemented for the Cyprus Chamber of Fine Arts (EKATE) and the association of self taught painters and for other individual artists.

The Museum of National Struggle
The Museum of National Struggle comes under the jurisdiction of the Cultural Services. Founded in 1962, it was housed in the restored ruins of a 14th century Franciscal Cathedral alongside the old Archbishopric. The museum contains relics, documents and photographs relevant to the National Struggle of 19551959 waged by EOKA (the National Organisation of Cypriot Fighters for Liberation). About 35.000 people visit the museum annually of which 16.000 are pupils. The museum will soon expand into an adjoining building which, at present, is under construction.

The “Kypria%26rdquo; International Festival
The “Kypria%26rdquo; art festival is organised annually by the Cultural Services, the rationale behind it being to upgrade the art movement on the island and to highlight its links with international culture.

Since its inception, in 1993, it has become an institution making high quality entertainment accessible to a wide range of people. The various performances include theatre, ballet, opera and music.

Alongside well-known international artists or ensembles, Cypriot artists who have distinguished themselves abroad and acquired international reputation are also presented.

Under the auspices of the Cultural Services special cinema gala weeks with films from Greece and other countries are organised. Film societies and clubs are encouraged and sponsored by the Cultural Services to promote quality films in Cyprus. Furthermore, financial aid is also provided for the production of short documentaries on cultural topics.

Cultural Treaties
The Service is responsible for the implementation of treaties with other countries. It also deals with cultural issues concerning UNESCO and the Council of Europe.

The Antiquities Department
The Cyprus Department of Antiquities deals with the discovery, the maintenance, the protection and presentation of the rich cultural heritage of the island. Its activities comprise several fields of action, such as excavation and conservation of artifacts, the presentation of ancient monuments, the protection of folk and ecclesiastical art, the restoration of buildings of traditional architecture etc. The final goal of all these activities is the presentation of the island%26rsquo;s unique cultural property to its people and visitors for the benefit of pleasure, knowledge and artistic inspiration.

The Department of Antiquities publishes several books and pamphlets (from scientific treatises to popular reports) on its various activities, which circulate both amongst the general public and the world of experts in archaeology.

The Department of Antiquities is responsible for the excavations, in many sites. Foreign missions are carrying out such work at a number of sites. All this aims at discovery and study of the remnants of older phases of the island%26rsquo;s civilisation, dating from the pre-neolithic period 10.000 B.C. to the Middle Ages.

Relevant to the excavations and complementary to them is the task of maintenance and protection of ancient monuments and antiquities in general. This includes reconstruction and/or maintenance of ancient theatres, sanctuaries, castles, churches and other monuments of every nature as well as movable antiquities, metallurgy, handicraft, icons, items of religious and popular art dating back to neolithic times and up to 1940 A.D. Maintenance of mosaics and frescoes is also included.

In the belief that the cultural heritage of a country, apart from its archaeological value, is mainly a source of knowledge, inspiration and high-level aesthetic pleasure both for the people of the island and for foreign visitors, the Department of Antiquities preserves antiquities and presents them to the people in a manner that is both pleasant and educating.

The Cyprus Museum in Nicosia houses the richest and most representative collection of Cypriote antiquities in Cyprus. In its exhibition rooms one may see some of the most important pieces of Cypriote art and get a comprehensive picture of the Cypriote culture from the Neolithic period to the Roman times.

There are also district archaeological museums in all towns, two site museums, in Episkopi (Limassol) for the antiquities of Kourion and at Kouklia (Paphos ) for the antiquities of Paleapaphos, Folk Art Museums at Yeroskipou, Lefkara and Phikardhou and an Ethnological Museum in the Nicosia House of Hadjigeorgakis Kornesios.

Most of the ancient monuments and archaeological sites on the island are open to the public and visitors may, with the aid of inexpensive guide books, tour the sites.

On the other hand ancient theatres have been fully reconstructed and host several theatrical, dance, musical and other performances. At the same time mobile Cyprus antiquities in the form of representative collections are sent abroad for exhibition. Such touring exhibitions are organised in many parts of the world.

Cypriote antiquities are also objects of scientific study during international congresses and seminars on archaeology.

An achievement of the Department of Antiquities is the inclusion in 1980, of both Paleapaphos (Kouklia) and Nea Paphos (Kato Paphos) in the World Cultural Heritage List of Unesco.

In 1986 nine Byzantine Churches situated in the Troodos range, those of Agios Nicolaos tis Stegis in Kakopetria village, Agios Ioannis Lambadistis in Kalopanayiotis village, Panayia tou Moutoulla in Moutoullas village, Archangelos in Pedoulas village, Timios Stavros in Pelendri village, Panayia tou Arakos in Lagoudera village, Panayia tis Poditou in Galata village, Stavros tou Agiasmati in Platanistasa village and Asinou near Nikitari village were also included in the World Cultural Heritage List of Unesco.

The Cyprus Theatre Organisation (TH.O.C.)
Theatre in Cyprus has flourished since antiquity and there is wonderful proof of this with the existence of the ancient theatres of Kourion, Paphos, Salamis and Soli. The theatres of Salamis and Soli, have been under Turkish military occupation since 1974.The Cyprus Theatre Organisation (THOC) was founded by law in 1971 with the aim of promoting the Theatrical Arts in Cyprus and aiding cultural links with other countries. During its almost thirty years of operation the Cyprus Theatre Organisation has staged more than 250 plays both classical and modern as well as plays by Greek and Cypriot playwrights. On average, nine new productions are presented each year, four by THOC%26rsquo;s central stage, four by its new stage and two by its children%26rsquo;s stage.

THOC employs on a regular basis 23 actors and works with a group of internationally acclaimed stage directors, stage-costume designers and composers. Foreign directors, stage-costume designers, composers and actors are occasionally invited to work on a number of THOC%26rsquo;s productions.

The Organisation has toured abroad extensively giving performances in England, Egypt, Germany, Bulgaria, Russia, Greece and the U.S.A. Since 1980 THOC has taken part in the annual Epidaurus Festival with plays from the Ancient Greek Drama repertory.

The Cyprus Theatre Organisation is also responsible for the development of theatrical art in Cyprus, undertaking the building of new and the renovation of old theatre buildings throughout Cyprus. It subsidises the “Independent Theatres%26rdquo;, organises theatre seminars, playwriting competitions, symposiums and annual competitions for amateur drama groups as well as school drama clubs. It also financially supports theatres of Cypriot communities abroad. In cooperation with the Municipality of Limassol, the Cyprus Theatre has founded the Cyprus Theatre Museum.

The Cyprus Theatre Organisation is administered by a nine-member Board of Directors, appointed by the Council of Ministers for a period of three years. The Director of the Cyprus Theatre Organisation is appointed by the Board and his appointment is approved by the Council of Ministers. An artistic committee makes recommendations to the Board on issues concerning the Organisation%26rsquo;s repertory.

Entry Date 8/8/2001