Cyprus Culture

The Ministry of Education and Culture is responsible for formulating and implementing the cultural policy of the Government through its Cultural Services. The Cultural Services are accountable for a broad range of activities including: Literature-Books

In order to encourage Cypriot writers in their intellectual activity, the Cultural Services have institutionalized a number of state prizes for:

  • Literature, awarded biennially for poetry, novel, short-story and essay, and new writers under the age of 30
  • childrens literature, awarded biennially
  • young Cypriot writers (book selected for printing by the Cultural Services)

In addition, awards for Excellence are awarded annually for outstanding contribution to the cultural life of the island. The Cultural Services purchase about 350 books of Cyprological content or literary books by Cypriot writers in order to support their work. By systematically distributing them to overseas libraries and universities they promote contemporary Cypriot literature. Within the framework of the same policy, the Cultural Services organize book fairs in Cyprus, participate in international book fairs abroad (Frankfurt, Bologne, Cairo, Thessaloniki, etc) and keep record of Cypriot publications. They have also associated Cyprus with the international system of registering books and periodicals (ISBN, ISSN) and have established a center of library cooperation through which Cyprus lends and borrows books on an international level.

Cyprus Publications - The publications programme of the Cultural Services includes seven series: General Series (anthologies, albums, symposia proceedings and others), Cypriot Folk Poetry Series, Greek Literature of Cyprus Series, Young Cypriot Writers Series and Memorial Lectures Series, Art Book Series and Doctoral Thesis.

Libraries in Cyprus - In pursuit of its aim of making books available to the reading public, the Cultural Services play an important role in the organization, running and establishment of libraries. Municipal or community libraries are subsidized or given technical assistance. Upgraded technical assistance (training and seminars in Library Science) is offered to Secondary and Primary School Libraries and to the libraries of government departments.

Lectures in Cyprus - The Cultural Services organize scientific seminars, symposia and lectures throughout Cyprus on topics of wide interest including 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.

Music in Cyprus- The Cyprus State Orchestra (CSO) and the Cyprus State Youth Orchestra (CSYO) are under the responsibility of the Cultural Services. At present the CSO prepares approximately ten series of concerts a year which are performed on a permanent basis in all major towns in the free areas of the island. In addition, it gives regular concerts in schools and occasional concerts on various occasions. Since October 1999, the Ministry of Education and Culture, in its effort to develop aesthetic education in children, started implementing educational programmes in schools with the Cyprus State Orchestra.

These Educational Programmes take the form of:

(a) visits to schools by members of the orchestra where they work with the children during their music lesson, or for a whole day (music day) and share with them intense musical experiences.
(b) big projects, in which the orchestra, a school and a composer cooperate for the production of a major work.
(c) especially prepared concerts for the children, in concert halls. The CSYO prepares 2-3 programmes a year which are presented in the major towns.

A 10-day annual summer school is also organized for additional individual and group tuition and training in chamber music. The Cultural Services also organize concerts of Cypriot artists who reside permanently abroad and of foreign ensembles invited within the framework of the programme of cultural exchanges between Cyprus and other countries.

Associations and Foundations  in Cyprus - 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 organizing local art festivals. Within the concept of cultural decentralization, encouragement is given to private initiative too and occasional grants are offered.

Cyprus Dance - The aim of the Cultural Services of the Ministry of Education and Culture is the development of artistic dance through supporting research and artistic creation by encouraging individual initiative, the encouragement of popular participation by appropriate education and information, and the promotion of the instruction of young people in the subjects of classical and contemporary dance. The Cultural Services also promote the projection of Cyprus artistic potential abroad, while at the same time they strengthen through subsidization the agencies that are increasingly active in this field. In 2001 the “Dance Platform” was organized for the first time, giving the opportunity to ensembles to present their work within the framework of an organized programme. The event has now been established as an institution.

The Ministry has adopted the institution under the name DANCE PLATFORM – Chorographical Meetings and instituted a prize for the best choreography.

Visual Arts in Cyprus - The Cultural Services organize 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. They 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 and others. In order to enhance, support and promote the work of Cypriot artists, as well as to enrich the State Art Collection, a number of their works is selected for purchase by a special committee. 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 specialized 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 and the association of self-taught painters and for other individual artists.

Museums in Cyprus - The Museum of National Struggle comes under the jurisdiction of the Cultural Services. Founded in 1962, it contains relics, documents and photographs relevant to the National Struggle of 1955-1959. Considerable financial assistance is given to the Museum of Folk Art (now the Ethnographic Museum of Cyprus) and to rural museums for renovation or maintenance.

International Festival Kypria - The programme of the “Kypria” International Festival includes events in the fields of opera, theatre, music, dance and cinema.

Cinema in Cyprus - The Cultural Services have been very active in the various aspects of cinema development (Production of Films, Cinema Education, Professional Training):

Production of Films in Cyprus - Responsibility for the financing of films by the State and the Presidency of the Advisory Committee on the Cinema rests with the Cultural Services of the Ministry of Education and Culture.

Cyprus Cinema Education - Various festivals and retrospective tributes are organized within this framework in honor of directors and cinema movements. Development of the cinema in rural areas - The Cultural Services give special emphasis to the development of the cinema in rural areas.

Professional Training - The Cultural Services give assistance to directors, producers and other contributors to the cinema for their participation in various educational seminars and workshops abroad. They also cooperate with the European programme Media and its office in Cyprus, to promote programmes relating to the professional development in various aspects of production.

Cyprus Theatre - The basic aims of the development policy of the Cultural Services in the field of theatre are: Promotion of Cyprus artistic potential abroad Development of theatre education Promotion of Ancient Greek Drama Encouragement of writing for the theatre Involvement of young people in the process of creating Upgrading of public interest in theatrical creativity The Cultural Services also organize every year the Festival of Ancient Greek Drama in the ancient Odeon at Pafos with the collaboration of the Cyprus Centre of the International Theatre Institute. In addition, the Festival of Higher Schools of Drama was organized and this gave the opportunity to students from various countries (England, Germany, Lebanon, America etc) and with different cultural roots to come into contact with one another.

Cyprus Folk Art - The Cultural Services have been active in the field of folk art in the following ways:

  • Numerous traditional dance groups were given subsidies for their costumes and for their participation in folk events in Cyprus and abroad.
  • Financial support was given to dance teachers and other experts to participate in dance seminars in Greece.
  • Members of the Cyprus Committee of the International Organization of Folk Art and the Federation of Folklore Festivals were given subsidies to participate in international conferences.
  • Costumes were sent to Cypriot folk dance groups in Greece and in Cypriot communities in Great Britain, Australia and the United States.
  • Financial support was given to the folk shadow theatre.
  • Subsidies were given for the organization of festivals both in towns and rural areas.
  • An Advisory Committee of specialists in traditional dance and costumes has been set up to work towards the creation of archives of traditional dances, the further training of dance groups and the upgrading of the work of new musicians.
  • Participation in the National Committee of Evaluation and Selection for the programme “Cyprus-Aegean-Cyprus”.
  • Participation in various committees for the preservation and promotion of Cyprus cultural heritage.
  • Publications on folk art.

Cultural Decentralization - The Ministry of Education and Culture subsidizes hundreds of cultural events in the countryside as well as a significant number of Cultural Centers in urban and rural areas for the purchase of equipment and other expenses. In order to ensure the quality of life of people living in rural areas, and to give all citizens of Cyprus access to the islands cultural wealth, the Cultural Services have extended the decentralization project “Athena” in recent years to include more areas and a wider range of activities, traditional Cypriot music, shadow and puppet theatre performances, screening of films, theatre performances and lectures.

Source: Press And Information Office, Republic Of Cyprus, 2005