Friends of the Greek Island and the Sea
The Friends of the Greek Island and the Sea is a nonprofit organization founded in 1996 by the renowned musician Frangiski Psacharopoulou Karori aiming to promote the cultural and musical education of the young people who live in the remote Greek islands.
Today it is served by an elected board of 11th people, all volunteers, and supported by approximately 150 members who share the belief that all children have the right to the joy and opportunities of learning.
For its successful initiatives the organization received the “Quality Award 2001” by the “Citizen’s Movement for an open Society” and the Greek Guide Association in a special ceremony at Zappeion Megaron with the presence of the President of the Greek Republic.
We have met Mrs. Maria Constantinides, chairman of the board and devoted member over the last seventeen years to the causes of “Friends of the Greek Island and the Sea” for a conversation about their activities and future plans.
Maria Constantinides at the opening of the music workshop in Serifos island.
Which are the main activities of the association “Friends of the Greek Island and the Sea”?
Our main activities include music workshops on the islands of Ikaria, Limnos, Kea, Santorini, Sifnos and Serifos where music teachers, carefully recruited by our Board, teach primary music education and music instruments such as piano, classic guitar, traditional violin and flute. The lessons are given both privately and in groups and lead to the formation of small orchestras which perform in musical plays and festivals. Currently a small musical play created by the students and the music teachers of the island of Serifos is about to be presented at the Lilian Boudouri Library of the Megaron Athens Music Hall. This is an enormous break through and a unique experience for the young people involved!
The renown musician Vangelis Bountounis with the young students of the music workshop in Kea island
Another major activity of our Association is the annual painting contests for primary school children. Our young painters are encouraged to draw inspiration from their local history, tradition and arts and a committee by prominent artists such as Panagiotis Tetsis, Alekos Levidis ,Vassilis Theoharakis and Elli Solomonidou Balanou evaluate their work. The chosen paintings receive honorary prizes during a special event held at the Theoharaki amphitheater which generously hosts us.
Lastly, with the help of individual donors we were able to provide a considerable amount of books to municipal and school libraries on the islands and to establish music libraries in all of our music workshops in support of their work.
''Morning Song'' by Nicoletta Matsimani,pupil at the elementary school of Loutraki
The association is based mainly on the voluntary work and dedication of its members. To what extent has the ongoing economic crisis affected its operation?
The association has been received through the years with respect and generosity by individuals, institutions, the business world and the local government on the islands. The Stavros Niarchos Foundation not only helped us to fund the establishment of two of our workshops on the islands of Ikaria and Limnos but continued its support with a generous donation for the years 2013 -14. We are immensely grateful for its valuable contribution and its continuous recognition of our endeavors!
Music concert held in Ikaria island with the support of Stavros Niarchos Foundation and Municipality of Ikaria
It is quite impressive that on the whole during the financial crisis all of our workshops have made it very well in participation as well as in results. There is no doubt that this is entirely due to the enthusiasm and dedication of all the people involved and to the continuous support of our friends and our donors.
Municipality of Kea island granted the building of the old town hall for the conductions of music lessons
View from the window of the music workshop in Kea island
One critical problem is the air travelling expenses of two islands, namely Santorini and Ikaria. However, thanks to the generosity of Aegean Air and to the contribution of the parents of our pupils we have managed to overcome this year’s crisis successfully. As a result a third workshop was set up in Ikaria and we saw an increase in the number of students in both islands.
Traditional ceremony at the Benaki Museum of Athens
We owe special thanks to all of our donors, sponsors and benefactors for their generous support and encouragement. These are: Stavros Niarchos Foundation, Alexander S. Onassis Public Benefit Foundation, Hellenic Ministry of Culture, National Bank of Greece, AXA Insurance, Aegean Speed Lines, Aegeanair, Microsoft, Constitution of the Organization of Football Prognostics (OPAP), Philippos Nakas Music House, Red Cross, Iml Image Group, National History Museum, Samourka Foundation, Benaki Museum, Theocharakis Foundation for the fine arts & music” and many other individuals and friends.
In what ways could anyone support your efforts?
Financial support is vital, mainly enabling us to face travelling expenses for our teachers, running costs and human resources to support the voluntary work as well as for setting up a well-planned public relations’ campaign.
The devoted teachers Anastasia Karachristou and Denny Dede during a lesson at the music workshop in Sifnos island
Music workshop in Sifnos island
We desperately need immediate renewal of our electronic equipment at the office in order to make our work more efficient. In this area sincere thanks go to Microsoft for offering the necessary software, which represents a donation of $2,872.00. We now need to get the rest of the “outfit”…
Also our website is in great need of restructuring so that it becomes compatible with the new portable equipment; tablets, iPhones etc. The acquisition of basic audiovisual portable equipment would be equally helpful.
What are the association’s future plans?
Our next step aims to the widening of our educational program in a way that it includes all members of the local societies. This, we think, will help them to appreciate and to understand the importance of the work which is done in the workshops; it will encourage more parents to send their children to them, while it could improve relationships and interaction between the members of the community especially at a time when politics and strong emotions run high.
"Seeking for the hidden face of Music ''. The established composer, pianist and music producer Christos Papageorgiou at his lecture in the music workshop of Lemnos island
We also aim at the introduction of new lessons for more musical instruments .This will help the formation of small orchestras and ensembles which is our ultimate goal.
Poster of the 2nd Music Festival in Sifnos island
You have recently joined the community of TeamBlue. Which are your expectations and hopes regarding to your collaboration with TeamBluers?
First of all I wish TeamBlue the best of luck!
My expectations are that through its wide membership TeamBlue will promote the work that is being done through my Organisation by making it known to the wider international public. This I believe will enable us to take advantage of the opportunities it will create for establishing connections, gaining support by prospective donors, and possibly attracting partnerships in certain projects and programs.
Interview, text editing and photo selection by Dimitra Moutzouri