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The Piraeus Bank Group Cultural Foundation

PIOP is a public benefit institution, funded for its operation by Piraeus Bank. It designs and implements projects and programs related to culture and the environment, while at the same time, through its actions, it fulfills a significant part of the commitments of the Bank regarding Sustainable Growth practices.The Foundation aims at the functional interconnection and the balanced promotion of culture and the environment through the action plan of its Museums in the regions of Greece. In this way, PIOP, and by extension the Bank, contribute significantly and effectively to the cultural affairs in Greece.

The Basic Statutory Goals of PIOP are

  • Provision of well founded information to society regarding the need to protect and preserve the traditional cultural character of Greece and the natural environment, in parallel with its economic growth as well as regarding the application of proper standards to achieve them.
  • The safeguarding, recording and promotion of the tangible and intangible cultural heritage of the country.
  • The recording of the history of the Group through the preservation and organization of its archives.
  • The safeguarding of traditional and industrial technologies of the country, the recording of their history and the contribution to the research on traditional technology and industrial archaeology.
  • The contribution to the cultural and economic development of the country through research, promotion and utilization of its cultural reserve.
  • The protection and management of the natural, urban and cultural environment.
  • The preservation and promotion of the landscape in the context of the principles of sustainable growth and the diffusion of environmental and social awareness to citizens and relevant institutions.

The main actions of PIOP are

  • Creation and management of an extensive network of thematic technological museums in the regions of Greece. These museums do not belong to the Foundation or the Bank but to the Local Authorities or the Greek State. The Foundation, on the basis of program contracts, takes over the responsibility of their exemplary operation, their total expenses, as well as the maintenance of their buildings and collections. The responsibility for these obligations may return to their owners, upon their will, after a specific time period.
  • Realization of research programs and the serving of the research needs of the scientific community.
  • Preservation of a Historical Archive connected to the economic, banking, industrial and agricultural history of Greece and its promotion to special groups and the general public.
  • Publication of scientific works.
  • Organization of cultural actions.
  • Reinforcement of rescue actions.
  • Involvement of PIOP in the public dialogue for the shaping of strategies in the field of culture.

2017 was the fourth year of the implementation and execution of the four-year plan of the thematic reorientation, development and activation of PIOP, which began in 2013. The implementation was realised based on the capitalization of PIOP’s experience and expertise, gained during the previous years of operation, and the accumulated experience since the first year of the implementation of the program.

By integrating the dynamic that has been developed – mainly through:

  1. Α) the new NSRF 2014-2020,
  2. Β) the "Creative Europe" program of the European Commission,
  3. C) the "Horizon 2020" program,
  4. D) the "INTERREG 2014-2020" and "Balkan-Med 2014-2020" programs and
  5. E) the UNESCO Action Plan,

and by including the environment in its statutory goals, PIOP closely monitors the prospects that arise in the fields of culture and environment, in Greece and internationally.

Throughout 2017, the Foundation continued the operation of its Museums Network, hosting 182 entertainment and education activities and 532 regular educational programs for children, 14 exhibitions, 166 other cultural events and 133 collaborations with third parties.

The nine Museums of the PIOP Network welcomed 314,844 visitors (270,771 Greeks and 44,073 from abroad). It is noted that despite the economic crisis (and the resulting crisis in culture), the PIOP Museums had an increase of 43.2% in the number of visitors compared to 2016 while at the same time there was a further improvement in the acceptance of the Museums by the local communities.

Intangible Cultural Heritage

The safeguarding, promotion and study of the intangible cultural heritage of Greece are basic thematic axes of the Foundation. In this context, the Foundation has supported scientifically and contributed decisively to the first two inscriptions of intangible cultural heritage elements of the country to the UNESCO’s Representative List of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.

These are: a) the know-how of mastic cultivation in Chios, which was the first national nomination listed, from the Intergovernmental Committee of the UNESCO Convention for the Safeguarding of Intangible Cultural Heritage, in its annual conference (Paris, 24-28 November 2014) and b) the Tinian Marble Craftmanship, which was listed after the General Conference of the Convention for the Safeguarding of Intangible Cultural Heritage, in its 10th Annual Session (Namibia, 30 November – 4 December 2015).

These two elements of intangible cultural heritage of Greece are presented in two Museums of PIOP’s Network; the Museum of Chios Mastic in Chios, and the Museum of Marble Crafts in Tinos. In this way, PIOP contributes meaningfully to the promotion of intangible cultural heritage as well as to the support of the regions that host the Museums of its Network. For this reason, in recognition of its contribution to the promotion of intangible cultural heritage of the country and for the advancement of the country’s cultural capital, PIOP received accreditation from the General Assembly of State Parties of UNESCO Convention for the Safeguarding of Intangible Cultural Heritage in order to operate as advisor and consultant towards the Intergovernmental Committee of the Convention. At the same time, 23 specialized actions were held at the Foundation’s Museums with the aim of promoting intangible cultural heritage.

Museum Network

PIOP ensures the sustainability and European-standard operation of a Museums' Network in the regions of Greece. The coordinated actions of the Foundation are constantly enriched by the new knowledge and the developments in the cultural centres in Greece and Europe. The operation of the Museums' Network and the coordinated actions of PIOP in all its buildings contribute significantly to: a) the promotion of Greek cultural heritage and the interconnection of culture with the environment and sustainable growth, b) the promotion of the traditional crafts and the intangible cultural heritage of Greece, supporting employment, economic and tourist activity and the general development of local communities, and c) the creation of areas of culture and life-long learning by organizing cultural, scientific and educational actions.

The Museums' Network serves PIOP’s fundamental objective for the safeguarding and promotion of the country's productive history, with emphasis on traditional technology and industrial heritage. The Network consists of nine thematic technological museums where the local crafts and industrial traditions are preserved and promoted, along with the tangible and intangible cultural heritage:

  1. Silk Museum (Soufli),
  2. Open-Air Water Power Museum (Dimitsana, Arkadia),
  3. Museum of the Olive and Greek Olive Oil (Sparta),
  4. Museum of Industrial Olive Oil Production of Lesvos (Aghia Paraskevi, Lesvos),
  5. Rooftile and Brickworks Museum N. & S. Tsalapatas (Volos),
  6. Museum of Marble Crafts (Pyrgos, Tinos),
  7. Environment Museum (Stymphalia, Oreini Korinthia),
  8. Chios Mastic Museum (Pyrgi, Chios) and
  9. Silversmithing Museum (Ioannina).

Contribution of PIOP’s Museums to local societies

The social role of the Museums is multifaceted. Apart from their key role in promoting cultural goods, they are called upon to sensitize the public and safeguard the cultural heritage for future generations. In addition, the Museums contribute to the economy of the regions where they are located.

The economic impact is not limited to the activities during the construction of the building infrastructures and the jobs related to the personnel of a Museum. There are also revenues and employment for the sectors that participate in the supply chain of the Museum with goods and services. In addition, revenues created directly or indirectly are channeled to consumption, thus creating further activity for the economy as a whole. Finally, their operation as cultural sites contributes to the upgrade of the image of the wider area and attracts visitors, leading to an increase in tourism and in demand of products and services offered in the specific areas.

In the context of a special research study conducted by PIOP, in cooperation with the Foundation for Economic & Industrial Research (IOBE), regarding the social and economic impact of the Museums of the Foundation on a local level, interesting results were produced that show and quantify their impact on local communities.

The extent and importance of the contribution of the Museums to the local societies are best understood taking into consideration the economic characteristics of the areas in which they operate. Specifically, with the exception of the Museums in Ioannina and Volos, most Museums are located outside the urban centers of the country, in municipalities with populations below 100,000 inhabitants. In addition, 8 out of 9 municipalities with PIOP Museums have lower per capita income in relation to the national average and lower number of employed per thousand inhabitants.

The contribution of the museums to the economy is connected with their ability to attract visitors. It should be noted that despite the economic crisis (and the consequent crisis in culture), PIOP’s Museums have had a consecutive annual increase in visitor numbers. In 2016 approximately 220,000 people visited the Museums of PIOP, noting an increase of 14.25% in relation to 2015 while in 2017 the number rose by 43.2% versus 2016, exceeding 314,000 visitors.

In 2016, PIOP commissioned the Foundation for Economic & Industrial Research (IOBE) to conduct a special research study regarding the social and economic impact of the Museums of the Foundation at a local level. By applying the Leontief inflow-outflow model, specially designed for the financial data, the central, peripheral and local economies and administrative structures, it developed a method of calculating the direct, indirect, induced and catalytic impacts from the Museums’ operation at a local level.

The results of the study prove and quantify this contribution in specific sectors:

- An increase in the revenues from tourism in the corresponding areas of the country (for 2016, at least €5.5 mn with a conservative estimation of the catalytic impact, and with a more optimistic estimate of the catalytic impact, up to €11.3 mn).

- Impact of the activities of the Museums to the GDP of the country (for 2016: without taking into consideration the catalytic impact, reaches €4.3 mn, while in terms of employment it amounts to 103 job positions. In the conservative estimation of the catalytic impact, the total contribution of the Museums to the GDP of Greece transcends €13.4 mn, while in the optimistic estimation it reaches €23 mn).

- Contribution of the Museums to employment (for 2016: based on the conservative estimate of the catalytic impact reaches 345 jobs. In the more optimistic estimate, the respective contribution reaches 600 jobs).

Based on the above data and given the rising trend in visitor numbers to PIOP's Network of Museums the aforementioned amounts are expected to show an equivalent rising trend in the coming years.

Finally, the Museums also contribute to the economy of the country during their construction. Using the most recent example of the Museum of Silversmithing, the total impact of its construction to the economy of the Municipality of Ioannina reached €7.8 mn in terms of GDP, and €10.6 mn for the whole country. In terms of employment, the construction of the Museum led to the creation of 236 jobs in Ioannina and 284 jobs in all of Greece.

Historical Archive

The Historical Archive operates with the same statutory objectives as those of the Piraeus Bank Group Cultural Foundation, contributing to the Group’s corporate responsibility on issues of transparency and social influence. The Historical Archive of PIOP houses the archives of important Greek banks, which were absorbed by Piraeus Bank Group in the past, as well as archives of institutions and businesses that were connected with these Banks during their historical course. It holds 7 bank archives, 5 archives of state economic organizations, 55 archives of businesses, 4 private archives and 3 archives of collective bodies. The central question one could address to the sum of the material kept in PIOP’s HA regards the development of Greece during the 20th century, in the economy of the country as a whole and in its individual regions.

The aim of the Historical Archive’s operation is the development of an archival institution which operates with the highest organizational and operational standards, constantly accessible and inviting to multiple recipient groups, promoting the value of preserving the collective memory of society by utilizing the archival sources. Aiming to provide the best possible diffusion of public history and to enhance cultural history, the Historical Archive is not addressed only to the research and academic community but to the total of the educational and artistic community, the personnel of Piraeus Bank Group, the local communities and in particular to the wider public, providing integrated services and a multi-faceted range of events over the past four years. The actions held at the Historical Archive constitute it a key research point and aim to constantly place it on the cultural map of Athens. Indicatively, the beneficiaries from the operation of the Historical Archive during 2017 numbered 4,715 people (researchers and general public of various categories, according to the verification systems of reservations for the actions and of user satisfaction of the Archive).

Library

PIOP's Library includes book collections deriving from the libraries of Greek banks integrated into Piraeus Bank Group. The Library has approximately 59,000 Greek and foreign books and more than 132,000 issues of periodical publications while it is being constantly enriched to serve the needs of the research and the academic communities. The Library holds titles related to the fields of research and activity of the Piraeus Bank Group Cultural Foundation and of Piraeus Bank Group in a broader sense. These include: industrial archaeology, economic and social history, history of technology, geotechnical and environmental issues, museology, cultural management, anthropology, folklore studies, ethnology, financial, banking and economic issues, agricultural economics and politics.

The Library’s reading room offers wifi connection and free access to electronic databases containing scientific findings of completed PIOP research programs: 1. Information regarding technology from Archives and Libraries of Venice (the result of a research program on technology in Greek regions under Venetian rule, in cooperation with the Greek Institute of Byzantine and Post-Byzantine Studies of Venice). 2. Greek musical instruments (the result of a research program in cooperation with the Department of Music Iconography of the School of Fine Arts of the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki).

Library users may have access to part of its catalogue electronically, visit its premises and participate in actions it organizes (seminars, educational programs, theatrical performances and workshops for children and adults). PIOP’s Library is a lending library for Piraeus Group employees, while the existing cooperation with the Kallithea Public Library has been expanded in order that the latter can lend books to the Group’s employees.

PIOP’s Library also features a Children's Section, with a collection of classic and contemporary children’s stories, novels for children and youths by Greek and foreign authors, as well as books of a more general interest and encyclopedic nature, all of which are available to children aged between four and twelve years old. The Children's Sector also hosts PIOP’s regular Educational Programmes. In the context of its activities and its active participation in the area’s cultural events, the Library organizes a variety of actions in cooperation with other institutions. PIOP’s Library participates in the Hellenic Economic Library Network (HELIN).

The total number of beneficiaries of PIOP Library for 2017 (readers, distant users, loans, educational programs, small-scale actions and cooperative actions) exceeds 10,000 people, children and adults.