For Rent: Greece’s Monuments

Greece Acropolis
The Acropolis

In a desperate attempt to scrounge up every euro possible to avoid a debt default in March, the Greek government has made it easier for advertising firms, other commercial ventures, and even demonstrators to rent out cherished historical monuments, AFP reported.The guinea pig: the 2,500 year-old Acropolis — which houses the Parthenon — just outside Athens. Soon to follow will be Delphi, known for the famed oracle.

Greece’s culture ministry — whose budget has shrunk by 20 per cent since 2010 — reasons that it was a way to “facilitate” greater access to the country’s ancient monuments, and the revenue generated would help in the upkeep and preservation of the sites. Archaeologists and scholars have slammed the proposal as “sacrilege” for decades, according to AFP.

Commercial use of archaeological sites used to be the domain of the Central Council of Archaeology, which has granted access to only a select few in the past, including Greek-Canadian filmmaker Nia Vardalos and the American director Francis Ford Coppola. Most filming and advertising requests have been refused.

But in a volte-face, the Greek government is not only making it easier to obtain a permit to use the space, but also lowering the permit costs for archaeological sites and museums hoping more people will use them, according to Bloomberg.

Film crews will now be charged only 1,600 euros ($2,039) a day, down from 4,000 euros in 2005. Professional photographers need only pay 200 euros, down from 300 euros, Bloomberg reported. The fee to use pictures of state-owned sites and museums in publications was also cut to as low as 30 to 60 euros per shot from 100 euros in 2005.

The decision might not have been a popular one, but for a country that was bailed out in May 2010 by the EU and IMF, and is in the process of trying to reduce its debt to secure a second bailout, every little bit counts.