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  • Preparations for Pafos 2017 – European Capital of Culture for 2017 are well underway and we caught up with Georgia Doetzer, Director of Artistic Programme of Events for Pafos 2017 to give us an update

    1. How are things going in preparation for 2017?
    The preparation is very challenging and of course intensive and stressful. We are just a few weeks before the Opening on the 28th January 2017 and this means a lot to us. The programme is ready, but do not forget that it will be mostly implemented outdoors and/or in spaces that will soon be finished. It is challenging as now we are in the implementation phase. There is a heavy workload regarding programming, rehearsing, inviting guests from Cyprus and abroad, planning, as well as overseeing the infrastructure works, streets, venues. Everything has to be ready by end of December. 

    2. Is everything running to schedule?

    Our programme yes; the vast majority of the projects don’t face any problems. Contracts have been signed, roadmaps and budgets have been agreed. Apart from some venue and timetable changes that we might have to make because 1 or 2 venues will not be 100% ready by the agreed time, everything is according to schedule. When you are planning an artistic programme months in advance of course you must be aware of the fact that some changes might occur.

    3. We were recently treated to a presentation about the events that will take place in 2017 – please tell us a little about the main ones

    There are 152 projects. Many of them are complex projects with multiple actions. If I have to mention just a few, then I would of course mention first the Opening Ceremony on the 28th January 2017 in the city’s central new square, which is a spectacle inspired by the first thematic line of our programme, Myth and Religion, designed and implemented by an international team. Then we will have the Summer highlight on the 1st July 2017 in the harbour area, inspired by our second thematic line, World Travellers, as well as the Berlin Philharmonic concert, one of the best orchestras worldwide with the famous Concert for Europe on the 1st of May in front of Pafos Castle which is a concert that will be transmitted worldwide. Also, the Moon and Stars platform that includes a series of concerts with famous stars such as Vladimir Ashkenazy, Charlotte Rampling, Goran Bregovic, Eleftheria Arvanitaki, George Kimoulis, in the ancient Odeon and the Rock of Aphrodite (Petra tou Romiou). Not to forget the many visual artists taking part in a number of exhibitions as Rosa Barba (Germany), Chiharu Shiota(Japan), Socratis Socratous (Cyprus) Costas Tsoclis (Greece) and many others. Last but not least,  I consider the ancient drama Trojan Women by Euripides to be also one of our highlights, directed and staged by two  world known personalities, Theodoros Terzopoulos (director) and Jannis Kounellis (stage installation).

    4. Where can people find more information about the events?

    Shortly, will be able to find all the relevant information you need in our website: www.pafos2017.eu . Very soon we will also have a new and dynamic site, as well as relevant printed material, and of course our info points will be ready to provide you with relevant information both in Greek and English before the end of this year.  I have to mention also, that the Pafos2017 Organisation has its own Application which can be downloaded for free on all Smart Phones.



    5. What has been the reaction from the community in Pafos, as well as Cyprus as a whole to the events of next year?



    The Pafos people were amazed, I believe, by the volume, the extension and the diversity of the projects. In Pafos we could communicate our programme and our events easily through our presentation, our volunteers, and our daily contacts.  People are here anyway, they are close to Pafos2017, they call us, we meet with them, and we talk to them every day. In the other cities of Cyprus we see that people are aware of our activities and they are interested in attending the majority of the events. The Berlin Philharmonic concert or the Moon and Stars concerts have already been booked in their calendars for next year I believe. Due to our financial limitations, we could not promote our events nationally or internationally well in advance, but we will now start to do so more intensively.



    6. Are there any activities that will help bring tourism to Pafos after 2017?



    The title of the European Capital of Culture itself brings tourism to Pafos. There are certain tourists that follow the activities of all European Capitals of Culture. We do look forward to welcome a different kind of tourism to Pafos, a more interested audience in contemporary culture, visitors more interested to discover the history, the beauty and the modern face of Pafos.



    7. Finally, what has been the most challenging aspect of your work these past few months



    I can only say that challenges never end if you are seated in this position. The European dimension, the size of this project, together with the change of the city’s face thanks to the many infrastructure works are some of the most challenging issues we face every day. What keeps me moving is the fact that I strongly believe we will make it until the end, and that we will also be very successful!



    --



    A little about Georgia ...



    Georgia Doetzer was born in Cyprus in 1959. In 1982, she graduated from the University of GeorgAugusta in Germany, from where she obtained her Degree in Social Sciences. During her studies in Germany, she also followed various courses in business and cultural management, the adults further education and the German Language. After she worked for almost a decade as teacher, she joined in 1993 the Limassol Theatre Development Company (ETHAL), where she was involved in the artistic, technical and financial management of the company as its Chief Operations Officer. There, she collaborated with professionals from the field of the Arts in several theatre productions and became actively involved in the cultural life of Limassol and Cyprus. In 1999, she joined the Rialto Theatre, a major arts venue based in Limassol, where she worked as its Artistic Director till December 2014, undertaking therefore the artistic management of the theatre’s annual programme.Together with the development of the theatre’s programme, she has been in charge of various projects as a project manager: the design, organisation and implementation of the International Short Film Festival of Cyprus, the International Film Festival .Cyprus Film Days., the Contemporary Dance Platform, the European Dance Festival, the World Music Festival. Her other contributions include Member of several selection Committees of the Ministry of Education & Culture (1998-20014), the Limassol Dance House, the National Theatre Prizes and many more. Her contribution in the cultural life of the island is enhanced with her participation in the administrative board of various associations and institutions: she is a member of the Board of Directors of the Cyprus Theatre Organisation 2012- today), the Coordinating Council of Limassol Cultural Organisations (2012-15) and the Representative of the Rialto Theatre in the European Forum of Worldwide Music Festival (2012-14). Furthermore, her 20-year experience and know-how in the organisation, management and implementation of programmes offered her an active role in the European Capital of Culture – Pafos2017 where she works since January 2015 as director for the artistic programme.

  • Storyteller Bruno Messina talks about how the stories we learn as children can make us better adult communicators.

    When I was 13-years-old I wrote, directed and starred in a variety show act in which soft-spoken country-western singer John Denver murdered random deep-woods hikers with an iron spatula.
    It was summer camp in the Appalachian Mountains of Eastern Pennsylvania. It was the late 80’s. Times were good. We didn’t have Netflix or Internet even and so had to entertain ourselves with elaborate concoctions like this. Left to my own devices, I came up with the idea of a nature-loving celebrity singer turned homicidal maniac.

    Ironically, the audience loved it. They hadn’t experienced anything like it at summer camp before maybe. Maybe they liked the off-kilter humour, or the juxtaposition of Denver—one of the kindest, most gentle of celebrities—dispatching random passersby with a pancake spatula. It might even have been the repetition of the farce. The bodies piled up quickly.

    Whatever the reason, I became a camp celebrity overnight. (Later performances—as I got older and somehow more deranged—were less successful. When we performed a skit involving an opium-addicted South Korean exchange student turned unhinged zombie devouring groundhogs in the moonlight, for example, faces dropped to the floor and stayed there.) But at 13, I was sure that if a Hollywood producer had been at the Camp Bernie Variety Show that night, he would have given me Orson Wellesian carte blanche on whatever project I wanted to make next.

    I think about that play from time to time, especially when I think about how I got here—using stories to help get messages across for people who have tuned into the power of storytelling.

    Why?

    That’s almost another story. That story would involve a kid with an odd sense of humour getting into college and then grad school, a kid who’d started turning some of those bizarre scenarios in his head into dialogues and short stories and then novels. By then he wasn’t a kid anymore, he was a man, but his imagination hadn’t really veered too far afield of John Denver butchering campers with an iron spatula.

    From skit to short story, audiences still dug it.

    And I think that’s because something about what happened that night at the Camp Bernie Variety Show and the trajectory my life took as a storyteller are connected. If I had to pinpoint the relationship, I’d probably say it had to do with how Denver’s strange story was told.

    CALL IT QUIRK

    Audiences like oddness. Call it a twist, call it fresh, quirky, weird, off-beat—you can still appeal to a wide swath of listeners even when you’re doing something they haven’t experienced before. Or maybe especially when you do. The very contrast of Denver and murder hit a nerve.

    South Korean opium-addled groundhog butchers, on the other hand, are always going to be a tough sell. But John Denver—ripped out of his normal soft-spoken, environmentally-conscious context—was a joke people were willing to be let in on. A joke they followed through a slew of blood-drenched deep-woods encounters à la Quentin Tarantino, all the way to the final bow.

    It wasn’t that we were making fun of Denver per se—nastiness never sells either—it was the juxtaposition of all that Denver represented with a context that didn’t fit him at all. It was absurd, and it worked.

    REPETITION: BALANCING THE FRESH WITH THE EXPECTED

    You’ve heard it before. An unfunny gag used once is just unfunny. Hear it repeated seven times in a row and you’re laughing your head off. In terms of straight storytelling, this principle can be traced through the Grimm Brothers all the way back to Homer. It’s the same principle that got us The Three Little Pigs and Goldilocks.

    Repetition is order and structure; it’s the comfort food of storytelling. We grow up with it from our earliest lullabies, and carry it with us into adulthood, whether we know it our not.

    But a story with repeated episodes is also something else—it’s ear candy for adults. We can’t leave the campfire until we get to the third and final episode, because that’s where the payoff is. (If you’re still with me, maybe this is starting to make sense.)

    As storytellers, we strive to take the universe apart and put it back together again by the time Goldilocks tries that last bed that’s just right—and either gets eaten by the bears or runs away.

    As listeners, you’re waiting for her to get eaten by those bears.

    BE FUNNY OR DIE

    I wouldn’t put it just like that, but I’d say the funniest things you see on your daily newsfeed are probably the ones you share and remember. (Some of them are turning our collective conscience into slush, but that’s another story.)

    A day at the office sitting before your laptop can feel a lot like an escape from a restaurant with a million paparazzi at your back. Those moments when a message comes through clearly and effortlessly, and also manages to hit the sweet spot where you throw your head back and laugh—that line, or patch, of copy is up there with the Buddha’s vision under the Bodhi tree. I’m sure if there was any way to bottle it legally, Monsanto has already tried, and failed.

    Which brings me back to John Denver.

    There’s really no way to ensure that a piece of writing will work. Just watch a stand-up comedian perform and see for yourself—watch a movie, read a book. No doubt it’s hit or miss. But—and John Denver the spatula-wielding psychopath can bear me out—you will see the elements that work used again and again across media and platforms.

    Find an unexpected juxtaposition, repeat it a few times, and try to make people laugh. You do that and you’re almost guaranteed to hold people’s attention.

    Unless you’re butchering groundhogs in the moonlight. 

    --



    Bio: Bruno Messina is a storyteller, content writer and UI Geek at Storyline Creatives, a Nicosia-based team of native English content creation specialists.

  • Cyprus Comic Con is back again for its third year and it’s even bigger than ever. Tony Michaels is the PR & Communications Manager for the event and we managed to catch him for a few minutes to put some questions to him.

    So Tony, thanks for stopping for a few minutes to chat with Cyprus.com – it really is rush, rush, rush for the event I see.

    Can you update us about the past couple of years please?

    This is our third year and we are trying improve year to year.  The first year we were expecting a few hundred people to attend and over 3,000 people turned up.  This gave us the confidence to do it again last year at a much bigger venue and towards the end of the day we had run out of the 8,000 wristbands for entry and people were still coming!


    Tell us about the event this year.

    This year, the Cyprus Comic Con is over two days, September 3rd and 4th and once again, will be at the Filoxenia Conference Centre.  Furthermore, the event has been split into two days as to incorporate everything we can in the Cyprus Comic Con schedule to cover the broad categories of film, comics, anime/manga, video gaming, table top games, your favourite shops and of course Cosplay.

    This year, Cyprus Comic Con aims to maintain the momentum and excitement of last years’ event by introducing even more activities, panels special guests and much, much more.


    What are this years' major events?

    Major event activities this year include: Cosplay Contest in collaboration with the EuroCosplay Contest where the winner will move on to the Eurocosplay Competition – this is REALLLY HUGE for the Cyprus POP culture community and Cyprus Comic Con.  There will also be Gaming Tournaments, Tabletop Tournaments, an international and local short­film Festival competition (last year we had over 140 applicants), a PopGen Asia Section, Conferences and Talks by international artists as well as music related performances by acts like Shirobon that also include an after-party taking place on the evening of Saturday September 3rd.


    Will we be able to see people in cosplay?

    Very much so!  Last year a lot of people came throughout the day dressed up as comic, fantasy, video game characters, super heroes, you name it!  They were of all ages from young children to some more senior attendees.

    This year Cyprus Comic Con will have Kairi, who is a former Eurocosplay Winner to guest judge at the Cyprus Comic Con Cosplay Competition!


    I hear that you have some special guests attending.

    Lots!  Cyprus Comic Con will have international and local artists coming to the event and we here at Cyprus Comic Con are very happy to announce that headlining will be Mr. Julian Glover – international actor who played in blockbusters like Star Wars: Episode V and Indiana Jones: The Last Crusade along with his now infamous role in Game of Thrones. Let's elaborate:

    Julian Glover has had an exceptionally rich and illustrious career in theatre, film and television. In the early 1950s he had his stage debut performing with the Royal Shakespeare Company, before becoming a regular on British television, appearing in popular series during the 60s and 70s, such as Doctor Who, The Avengers, Blake’s 7 and more.

    His film bow was in 1963, as Lt. Matherton in the Oscar-winning film Tom Jones.  In the 1980s, he made some of his most notable appearances on the big screen, including the role of Imperial General Maximilian Veers in The Empire Strikes Back (1980), the ruthless villain Aristotle Kristatos in the James Bond film For Your Eyes Only (1981), Brian Harcourt-Smith in The Fourth Protocol (1987), as well as the American Nazi Walter Donovan in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989).  He is also currently starring as Grand Maester Pycelle in the internationally popular series Game Of Thrones.

    Cyprus Comic Con is honoured and very excited to have an actor of the calibre of Jason Glover attending this years’ event.

    Moreover, Cyprus Comic Con is ecstatic to welcome internationally renowned comic book artists Stephen B. Scott, Lucas Pizzari, Manos Lagouvardos, Yiannis 'Rubus' Rubulias, Dani, Elias Kyriazis and Michalis Dialinas!

    Let's not forget that George Georgiou will also be attending! He has had roles, in 300: Rise of an Empire, Game of Thrones, The Americans, Homeland and much more!

    And more - Kairi, one of Europe's most acclaimed cosplayers. Gilbert Simon, winner of best cover art for the latest Asterix book and creator of character Mwet and last but not least 2J, Cyprus' most accomplished and famed YouTuber.


    What does it cost to attend?

    We here at Cyprus Comic Con have once again made it our purpose to keep the ticket prices as low as possible.  A single day pass is €3 and a pass for both days is only €5.  We also have something new for this year, a VIP PASS that includes a t-shirt as well as a limited edition silicone wristband, key ring and VIP lanyard. Most importantly you get queue-free early access at 09:00 on both days – one hour before the doors open to anyone else.  This is something special and costs €40 and is limited to only 200.


    Will there be food and refreshments?

    Yes there will be.  Various vendors will be offering food and drink throughout the day so that everyone can maintain their energy!


    Thank you for all of that – it looks as though this will be a huge event and even more successful than last year!

    For more information, check out their website www.cypruscomiccon.org

    Cyprus.com is again a proud sponsor of Cyprus Comic Con.
  • A middle-aged writer talks about his ten-year journey from literary hoaxes to getting published and why he believes storytelling has a place in every community.

    I was 25 when I read Dylan Thomas’ Lament Poem to a room of amateur poets at one of their monthly gatherings in Urbana-Champaign, Illinois.



    As Dylan Thomas.



    I was 25 and a genius and these poets, the way I understood them, were a spit in the face of Poetry and the killers of the kind of God-given creativity I exercised every midnight at my hand-made desk with a hip flask of Tanqueray and John Coltrane’s Love Supreme playing in the kitchen. Talking about poetry, sharing it, couldn’t make you a better poet.



    I performed my poem—with a hip flask of Tanqueray—and brought off my literary forgery without a hitch. The only question these poets had at the end was, what with my funny accent, where did I come from?



    Wales, I said.



    For me, this farce only reconfirmed the notion that I was the real poet—having confused the false poets and proven they couldn’t even tell the difference between a living poet and a dead one, a Welshman and an American. I never went to another of their meetings and continued to work on my uninspired, derivative and mostly horrible poems for another year or two before setting out on the Great American Novel.



    My formal education was in the Classics. My leaning was towards Homeric Greek, my first real joy Catullus. I studied Old English, Renaissance Italian, Sanskrit, and by the time I wiggled my way out of a doomed PhD and was heading to Austin, Texas, in a U-Haul truck with my hand-made desk, typewriter, hip flask and all my John Coltrane, following a Cypriot woman I was madly in love with, I had every reason to believe I was going to be not only a novelist, but the next great one.



    After all, I had the breadth of learning, the wisdom, the talent. I had the typewriter, the hip flask, the Nat Sherman Naturals, the John Coltrane. And I was on my way to the Official Capital of Slackerdom—Austin, Texas—which, I’d heard, was home to the richest concentration of unemployed geniuses west of the Rio Grande.



    Ten years and five unpublished novels later—then in my mid-30’s—I learned a lesson every young genius should learn. No one—not agents, editors, friends, not even your own wife (we got married a year after I followed her to Austin in a U-Haul truck)—wants to read 1,600-page novels by young, self-proclaimed geniuses, no matter how talented they think they are, if they’re missing specific elements like plots or sympathetic characters. You could probably say the same thing about 500-page novels without plots, which is where I headed next.



    By this time we’d moved from Austin to Prague, and then to England. Soon after that we were living in Cyprus above my wife’s parents in a small city on the fringes of Europe called Nicosia where the neighbors’ natural state of rest was prying expectation. They knew how many cigarettes you smoked on your back porch, if you left the house for a job in the morning or not. I continued to do in Cyprus to make money what I’d been doing off and on since I was 21—I taught.



    I taught English in Cyprus, mostly, eventually working my way up to a lowly, low-paid position at one of the new universities. Despite how much I grew to hate it, teaching English, or anything else, is good for one thing if you’re a writer. It shows you how people learn, and sometimes how they think. You begin to recognise learning types and appreciate these.



    And yet for all the differences you find among students, there are some things that appeal to all of them. One of those things is a good story. When a story flops in the classroom, it isn’t usually on account of a tough crowd. This isn’t the Apollo. You just haven’t told it well or hit the right notes.



    One day, still struggling to publish my novels and teaching to make ends meet, I had what I thought was a very clever idea: I would try, after a decade or so of writing novels, to write a short story.



    Anyone that’s been through the mainstream, or even the indie, publishing grinder in the States would know that it’s a good place to have your ego buried, in powder form, under a bush in your backyard forever. Spend a few years getting rejected by and sparring with editors and agents, high and low, trying to rise above the pack of equally talented, equally driven writers all competing for the same one or two spots that will eventually put them in the public eye.



    Well, you’re no longer the great genius you once were.



    I stepped into short story writing after writing five bad novels, so I had an idea at that point of how to write dialogue. I understood a little about pacing and tension and about something a revered New York agent would tell me a few years later was called “arc.” I learned that sometimes you can even plan a story out, down to the last line, like John Irving does, and still make it good. I learned to accept criticism and how to take a deserved, or undeserved, punch to the gut and recover. I learned over the course of ten years or more—in other words—what I might have learned in a semester or two in a good writing program from an instructor who’d been down the same road.



    But the most important thing I learned as a non-mainstream writer about placing my neck on the block of the public’s readings tastes was that people read and publish stories for a reason.



    Yes, it’s true.



    And the reason is, I’m pretty sure, that those stories are well-told or engaging on some level. They might teach readers something or not. End with a resolution or leave us hanging like Raymond Carver’s Neighbours or Elwood Reid’s brilliant What Salmon Know. They might kick us in the ass like Larry Brown’s Samaritans or finish on a pitch-perfect twist like Alice Fantastic by Maggie Estep.



    In time my stories began to get published. I got my first fan letter, and then some attention from other writers and agents across the ocean. Eventually, a few people began to notice my novels.



    Which brings me full-swing to the point of this highly personal, highly desultory ramble through the meaning and appropriateness of storytelling as a learnable craft.



    Anyone that says that creative writing can’t be taught may have a point. But that’s only because they’re phrasing the whole debate falsely and, in my opinion, foolishly.



    Teaching people how to write stories isn’t about teaching people how to be creative, but about how to approach storytelling. And anyone who denies a person the ability to learn how to tell a story has: a) probably never published much in places where your writing has to make it to the top of a gigantic slush pile; b) no experience teaching; c) never seen the cave drawings at Lascaux.



    When I reached the point in my life where I had to choose between trying to make a life in Cyprus or heading back to the States, my wife and I (we had two little Cypriot-Americans by then) had just spent a week in San Francisco. The creative landscape is obviously completely different there. The Bay Area was the birthplace of the Beats and is still an epicenter for writers and writing and is where a number of my writing acquaintances live. It’s a place where literary things happen.



    It was partly that trip that inspired me to open Write CY. I’d decided that if I was going to stay here in Nicosia, I’d at least need to do something related to writing for a living. If we didn’t have Open Mic Nights, I’d try to get them going. If we didn’t have Noir at the Bar, we could eventually aspire to it. If teens and children needed alternative venues for exercising creativity (while they still had it), we’d give it to them. And if adults wanted to have a place where they could get some guidance from professionals about how to approach the very difficult task of writing a story that someone would want to read—they’d get it.



    In a word, everything I envisioned a community creative writing space might be, Write CY would try to be. Because there’s something very sad about a city without a place where people from different backgrounds and abilities can exercise this very human impulse to make sense of themselves and the world through storytelling.



    I recited Lament Poem off and on for a few years when drunk or high, but never again before a live audience that thought I was the dead Welsh poet Dylan Thomas. At 42, I don’t think I’m the same wiseass I was back then.



    I’m still writing stories and novels and sending them out, and getting acceptances and rejections. I still take pride in what I think of as my God-given creativity and the elements of storytelling I learned piece by piece and revision by revision over the years.



    As a teacher, I sympathise with the way others process ideas. As the director of Write CY, I am absolutely blown away by how dedicated and eager the people who come to us are to learn how to tell their stories, and by how well some of them learn to do it.



    --



    Max Sheridan lives and writes in Nicosia, Cyprus. His short fiction has appeared in a number of online and print publications in the US, UK and elsewhere. He is the founder and director of Write CY, a creative space in Old Nicosia dedicated to community storytelling.

  • Write CY recently had an e-chat with Melissa Hekkers - award-winning author. Here's what they had to say.

    Write CY sat down for an e-chat with award-winning children’s book author, Melissa Hekkers, to discuss….well, children’s books. Melissa is a freelance journalist, photographer, traveller and blogger and the author of three critically acclaimed children’s books, CROCODILE, FLYING ACROSS RED SKIES and PUPA. She collaborates with artist Anna Fotiadou, Marlen Karletidou, Zara der Arakelian and Louiza Kaimaki and lives in Nicosia.



    Write CY: So, how did you get into writing children’s books? When did you realize you wanted to do it?



    Melissa Hekkers: I always was a storyteller. Having been bought up in two different cultures always gave me the prerogative of sharing and talking about my experiences, from a very young age. I think this eventually became second nature to me.



    It was when I began travelling to the Far East that the urge to put things down on paper became more urgent. Then coincidence came into being. The Pantheon Cultural Association played a big role in me publishing my first book, along with my ever growing friendship with Anna Fotiadou, who first put imagery to my work.



    In any case, holding a pen in hand is something I have always done.




    WCY: What makes writing for children a special experience? What do you get out of it as a writer?



    MH: In the workshops I deliver at WRITE CY, I attempt to convey to participants that all children’s books, whether picture books, audio books, fiction and non, didactic or not, for young(er) or old(er) kids, have this one common denominator which I like to call ‘a mysterious hope.’ For me, latching onto this element of hope is a drive which calls for a vision, which in the end can only bring out the best in you and is surrounded with positivity, regardless of whether the story has a happy ending or not. Hope is to be found in the most mysterious of places. I treasure reaching for that crescendo.




    WCY: Do you keep to a writing schedule when you’re working on a book?



    MH: I can’t say that there’s any specific schedule to my writing, although taking notes and jotting down ideas is something I do on an everyday basis. Once an idea or a plot has been ruminated enough in my head, then I tend to spend long stretches of time writing, with long stretches of time in between to digest what I’m trying to get at.




    WCY: Whose children’s stories or books do you enjoy?



    MH: Unfortunately, I feel that the children’s book I enjoy the most are those that I read as a child, or should I say the ones I read with a child’s understanding. Authors like Roald Dahl and Antoine de Saint-Exupéry were authors that introduced me to the sublime art of ‘talking’ to children.



    Nowadays I’ve gone back to reading comic albums, such as Boule et Bill, Asterix, Tintin. Having spent countless hours reading these as a child, I have never revisited these from an adult’s perspective. It’s super exciting!




    WCY: What’s on the horizon book-wise?



    MH: There’s two things, one more concrete than the other. Very much in its flourishing stage is a colouring book for children with a historical angle to it, as well as a hopeful message for the future of our island. This one doesn’t lean too much on words however.

    The other is a fiction, young adult’s book that addresses the life of a refugee child. This is very much in its character building stage—there’s still a long way to go.



    --



    Melissa Hekkers was born 1981 in Brussels, Belgium, and since 2004 she has been living and working in Nicosia, Cyprus. In 2007 she published her first children’s book in both English and Greek entitled CROCODILE, which won the Cyprus State Illustration Award of the same year. In 2012, she launched her second children’s book FLYING ACROSS READ SKIES (English and Greek), an experimental approach to literature, for which she was nominated for the Cyprus State Literary award. A year later she diverted from writing for children and published her first poetry book COME-FORTH. In 2014, her third children’s book PUPA (Greek and English) was very well received. Melissa is a freelance journalist, columnist and features writer for The Cyprus Weekly and other magazines and online platforms.



    Her work can be viewed at www.melissahekkers.com



    Melissa will be giving a workshop in children’s book writing in Greek at Write CY on Saturday, February 13, 2016 from 11am to 2pm.

  • Interview with Peter Anders Hvass – Member of Organising Team of Cyprus Comic Con about ComicConCyprus 2015

    We caught up with Peter Hvass from the organising team of Cyprus Comic Con 2015 and got an insight into this years event...



    1. August 2014 was the first Comic Con in Cyprus and it was a huge success - did you expect it to be such a success?



    We honestly thought that our initial estimate that perhaps 1000 people would show up was the absolute best case scenario. When at least 3000 (some say 5000) people ended up showing we were humbled and entirely blown away. It’s a dream come true.



    2. What was the biggest problem you faced on the day of the event last year?



    The lack of space! Our venue was simply too small. We managed somehow - it definitely wasn’t comfortable! This was the number one thing people brought up in their responses to our feedback form. Many other factors were brought up such as a better cosplay stage show, better air conditioning, more variety of food/drink, leaflets containing schedule & floor plan. I’m pleased to say that we’re addressing all of the above and more for this year’s event!



    3. When did you start planning for Comic Con 2015 and what have been the things that you have done different this year as far as organisation is concerned?



    Early proceedings began a few weeks after CCC2014 though we really started to pick up the pace in January. Beyond responding to all the amazing visitor feedback a core difference is that the size of our team has increased - we’ve maintained a dynamic of organised chaos which lets us move quickly and with very little bureaucracy or politic involved. Another is that we are already taking notes and making movements towards CCC2016!



    4. You have moved to the Filoxenia Conference Centre this year – do you think that this will be big enough for the event?



    We’ll know on the day! Filoxenia is ideal in that it is an actual and proper conference centre with all the mod cons that go with that. It’s a venue that feels almost familiar having visited other conventions taking place at similar style locations. The actual floor space this year has increased five-fold. Our corridors are at least twice as wide in the main hall and we have dedicated spaces for video gaming, table-top gaming, lectures, workshops, our short film festival and fringe festival!



    5. Tell us what we can expect at Cyprus Comic Con 2015.



    Just more of everything. The related communities, companies and industry in Cyprus have shown growth since last year. There are old players getting involved who didn’t last year. There are new players who have sprung up in the wake of Cyprus Comic Con 2014. On top of that everyone is more experienced and aware of the incredible demand we have here in Cyprus going into this year’s convention. The best way to answer this question is just to direct you to our website over at cypruscomiccon.org - we’re posting everything there!



    6. Will there be any special guests at the event?  Is it going to be an all day event?



    We’re expanding our guest roster from 1 to 6 this year! Incredibly happy to be welcoming Neil Gibson of T Pub back again - he has been a staunch and stalwart supporter of Cyprus Comic Con. The other 5 names will be dropping very soon on our web site! I’m also pleased to say we’ve already begun some special guest conversations for 2016. This year it’s a true all day event - from 9a.m till 9p.m with an after party to follow into the early hours of the next morning. Last year we closed our doors at 7p.m and cosplayers and visitors were still arriving at a really fast rate so we figured at the very least we need to expand hours for this year and perhaps look at other more flexible options for years to come.



    7. Who can and should attend Comic Con 2015?



    Everyone. Whether you’re a hardcore geek, gamer or otaku or just freshly whet your appetite and cut your teeth on the latest Avengers movie. Young or old and totally regardless of background. This event is the most open and expressive of its kind in Cyprus and we are proud and determined to keep it that way. There’s something for absolutely everyone here and if you don’t find it then come talk to us and we’d be more than happy to help you get started creating it.



    8. What makes Cyprus Comic Con such a success?



    Cyprus has been long due its own comic convention and being a non-profit NGO turns this into a total labour of love for everyone involved. The pure passion and dedication of all involved in putting this together in what would otherwise be their family, gaming, quality or other down time is truly something to behold. And it’s never enough - everyone wants to see this grow far beyond its current recognizable state. The core audience here has been underserved for generations - there’s this pent up fiery desire to see this happen and to really see it kick some serious ass. This bleeds from so many different sources - oppressive or misunderstood childhoods, people feeling like no one understands them or that they can’t find friends, a gaming community that has, at times over the past two decades been hugely toxic and faltered when it was just finding its feet time and time again. A measurable amount of the core audience has spent so much time shut up in doors on the internet hiding away from the world outside. I’m speaking from experience. This is something that simply MUST succeed.



    9. How does Cyprus Comic Con rate against others around the world?



    With this year’s convention I believe we’re reaching the scale of other small to medium regional events. We’re covering all the bases now - we just need to see the industry here grow and to keep stimulating interest from countries beyond to keep adding more content and legitimacy. I have very high hopes for the growth of our collective love child - some tough love and a bit of pampering and it’ll grow up and stand up proud among conventions. We’re hoping it becomes a firm and fast destination on every convention goer’s calendar at the very least in the surrounding region.



    10. A few final words about Cyprus Comic Con 2015…



    Climb into a silly hat or some cosplay, turn your screens off, get up off the sofa, skip a day at the beach, you can finish that game another day, books can be friends but so can humans, power down your consoles, charge up your Game Boy/DS, big smile on your face and mosey on over to Filoxenia on the 29th August. We’ll be there waiting for you. One of us!



    You can see some photos from last years Comic Con HERE



    --



    Peter Anders Hvass was born in Cyprus in 1987 and soon became more than a little obsessed with his NES, arcades and comics. Today it’s 2015 and not much has changed except he has a little less time to play games and read books, comics and manga thanks to his full time coding job and Cyprus Comic Con duties. The in-between was a blur of confused classmates, few friends, Pokemon TCG in the library, failing to successfully lead a Counter-Strike clan, managing to complete his Masters in Computing, trying not to play another MMO for so long that he almost passed out, partying hard at cosplay club nights, pretending he could play Magic, ruing the day he threw away his big box versions of Monkey Island, Dungeon Keeper and Fallout and wishing he had time for D&D as well as just one more Final Fantasy 7 playthrough. Also Arnold Schwarzenegger and Gintama.



    www.cypruscomiccon.org

  • Pafos is the 2017 European Capital of Culture for 2017 - We recently caught up with Marina Vryonidou, Chief Operating Officer of Pafos2017 – The European Capital of Culture in 2017, and asked her some questions about it all.

    1. When did the preparations for the European Capital of Pafos2017 start?



    The dream of a small town in Cyprus seeking to achieve a great goal was the driving force behind Pafos’ candidacy to become a European Capital of Culture. The bidding phase began in 2010 with three cities of Cyprus, Nicosia, Limassol and Pafos as contenders and culminated at the end of 2012 with Pafos receiving the title of European Capital of Culture for 2017.



    Preparations began in 2013 only to be halted by the financial crash that occurred in Cyprus in March of the same year. After a delay of some months work began towards the end of 2013 and now with secured funding, additional staff, volunteers and renewed public enthusiasm, Pafos2017 is back on track. Many new projects have been added to the initial Pafos2017 cultural programme, through an open call, as well as other synergies and developments, but always referring to the basic concept of the programme.



    European dimension, artistic excellence as well as variety are the main elements of the projects, the involvement of artists and institutions from Cyprus and abroad and the engagement of the communities, the citizens and the volunteers dealing with issues and specific themes on an artistic level that meets the expectations of an international audience. The active involvement of local and national cultural carriers, the engagement and participation of artists and citizens from all communities and sustainable cultural collaboration is the ultimate goal of the Pafos2017 ECoC.





    2. What is the concept of the Pafos2017 ECoC?



    The concept of Pafos2017 is THE OPEN AIR FACTORY and the artistic programme has been developed based on traditions spanning thousands of years when culture was enacted out in the open air and on the acknowledgement that there is a necessity for a new openness in our way of thinking, living and acting so that we may re-connect spaces and people in our region.



    The motto of Pafos2017 “Linking Continents, Bridging Cultures” strengthens the role of Cyprus in relation to Europe by emphasising the value of the geographical position of Cyprus and the fact that Pafos can become a forum of cultural diversity, a place for dialogue between peoples and a crossroad between contemporary and multicultural creativity. It serves to strengthen Pafos as a bridge between Europe and our neighbouring countries, especially in recent times when the differences and the conflicts are expanding and spreading.





    3. What are your hopes for Pafos and Cyprus in general, for participating in this initiative?



    In terms of content and structure, the Pafos2017 European Capital of Culture, with its concept of the Open Air Factory and the development or refurbishment of new cultural venues will strengthen Pafos cultural heritage and European dimension. Our hope is that through the scope and efforts of Pafos 2017, the city will be renewed as a quality destination with a rich year-round cultural agenda.





    4. What are some of the main focus points of the Pafos2017 programme?



    The main focus will be on projects that will emphasise Pafos’ and by extension Cyprus’ distinctive and open cultural traits, in unison with Cyprus’ European dimension and Pafos multicultural nature in relation to our geographical position, hence the motto: Linking Continents, Bridging cultures.



    Having this in mind, the programme that is being developed is vibrant and challenging, a programme that uses art and culture to invite people to open their eyes and minds and think about how art and culture may enhance their lives. Open to participate, to enjoy and to benefit, open to everyone who works and lives or visits Pafos. And last but not least open to no limits, delivering the highest quality and aspiring to leaving a better legacy.



    For example: Pafos2017 will realise a number of activities and projects related to concept and space of The Open Khan with projects like the “Table of Unification” to be installed within the Khan space as a symbol of the symbiosis of Greek and Turkish Cypriots but also as an integral part and a meeting point of everyday life in Pafos. The Khan’s open courtyard also will host a series of organised and pop-up events related to theatre, dance, gastronomy etc.





    5. Where will the events of the Pafos2017 programme take place?



    Cultural events and venues go hand in hand. The concept of the Open Air Factory challenges us to try new places and spaces. To highlight the value of existing venues that are not fully utilized, or even to use abandoned buildings, factories or shops and utilize them into something that gives them a different potential. This is one aspect where Pafos2017 can truly innovate.



    Within the infrastructure projects that have been proposed, the renovation of the Markideon Theatre and the Othellos cinema, as well as the reconstruction of the city’s central squares and the restoration of Ibrahim Khan are very important for Pafos 2017, not only for the indoor factor of some events that will take place during the winter months, but for the overall element of further cultural infrastructure enhancement that Pafos desperately needs. When these venues are delivered the benefits for Pafos will be great since the programmes planned by Pafos2017 will leave a legacy of cultural projects for future development.





    6. How much are you hoping to attract tourists and foreign media?



    Pafos is already an important tourist destination. With this prestigious title our efforts will be focused towards increasing both the quantity and the quality of the foreign visitors that will be drawn to the city in 2017. Having this in mind the collaboration and effective communication and promotion through foreign media will be one of our most important targets of our overall communication strategy, which will we have already begun.



    7. What, if any, long-term benefits can this title bring to a city



    The “European Capital of Culture” title offers a unique opportunity for a city to reestablish and rejuvenate itself and a country to redefine its image as a tourist destination by bringing to the foreground its cultural heritage and potential. It is also the ideal opportunity to realise important cultural and urban infrastructure projects that might otherwise not be a priority. Thus the title of Capital of Culture can leave very positive effects. If this project is strategically planned, promoted and implemented, it can definitely improve a city and country’s cultural capacity, image and future prospects.




    Photos by: © Photo Larko, Paphos



    --



    Cyprus.com will have more on Pafos2017 and its events and you can find more information on the website at www.pafos2017.eu



    --



    Marina Vryonidou – Short Biography



    Marina Vryonidou was born in Cyprus, grew up in Canada and studied in the UK where she received a BA(hons) in Art History and Film & Television Studies. She began her career as Assistant Director in TV productions for the Cyprus Broadcasting Corporation, followed by the position of Cultural Officer for the Municipality of Nicosia.



    She was recruited by the Laiki Bank in 1985 to establish a Cultural Foundation as part of the Bank’s corporate social responsibility (CSR) programme and was the Director of the Laiki Bank Cultural Centre until October 2012. During her career she promoted initiatives that included the acquisition and development of the Laiki Museum in Nicosia, the Pierides Archaeological Museum in Larnaca and three Cultural Centres in Nicosia, Limassol and Paphos. She headed the creation of the Foundation’s cultural heritage collections, consisting of Cyprus contemporary art, the Levant historical and photographic archive and facilitated the acquisition and further development of the Pierides family ethnographic collection.



    She promoted the introduction of Museum Educational Programmes for children, which in collaboration with the Cyprus Ministry of Education & Culture evolved into a national programme for elementary schools across Cyprus. She has curated many art, photographic and social history exhibitions, is also a writer and editor of a number of publications and until her appointment as Chief Operating Officer to Pafos2017 was an independent curator and cultural consultant.

  • Well known jazz singer Sarah Fenwick has embarked on a new project to bring jazz to Nicosia. We caught up with her and asked her about this new venture of hers.

    1. What would you say is the current jazz scene in Cyprus at the moment?



    The current jazz scene in Cyprus is growing steadily, there is a keen interest from Cypriot musicians and fans in this beautiful music, and more venues are investing in it. Jazz is a timeless form of music that influences many other genres, there are a wide range of fans who appreciate and support this type of music.





    2. What made you want to take a building in the old part of Nicosia and make a jazz club?



    It’s always been a dream of mine to own a jazz club and be able to support and promote this wonderful music in a sustainable way. Jazz is a multicultural art form, and builds bridges between people from around the world. I believe in opening peoples’ horizons to new and melodic musical sounds, and the best way to do this is in the shared experience of quality live music.  In addition, like an old jazz tune that is made ‘new’ by a talented musician’s interpretation, old Nicosia can be revived even more with this amazing music.



    3. Why do you believe Nicosia needs a jazz club?



    As a capital city in the European Union, Nicosia needs not just one jazz club but several!  I have a vision of turning Xanthis Xenierou – the road the jazz club will be on – into a live music street, like in New Orleans or London, where you can hear quality live music coming from several venues and feel inspired when you go out at night. There are already two music academies doing fantastic work with jazz on the same road – Windcraft and Academy 32, so this vision is achievable quite quickly with the municipality’s support and understanding of our goals. It would be great for the old city; bringing new life and cultural tourism to the area, and more traffic for other venues to benefit from.



    A variety of music choices shows a city’s maturity and diversity, and jazz must certainly be one of the available choices.





    4. Tell us a little bit about your dream


    Sarah’s Jazz Club will be a cultural centre with great live jazz, blues and related music forms at least three times per week, along with art and photography exhibitions. I dream that people will enjoy their evenings with friends and family in the presence of amazing live shows that focus on musicianship and talent. I dream that the jazz and blues community have a place to carry out their activities, and I dream that our society is inspired by the new sounds and fusions that young generations are creating.



    5. Who are you hoping to target with Sarah’s Jazz Club?



    The main target audience is simply fans of good live music. They are of any age, and any cultural background, although there is a core audience who are 35 and over, looking for a relaxed place where they can enjoy good quality live music and the finer things that go along with it, such as great wines, spirits and the arts.



    6. Is this your project only or are there others involved?



    My husband, director Savvas Hadjigeorgiou, who is hugely supportive of my jazz career, and I are launching Sarah’s Jazz Club, but I feel that the entire jazz community can benefit from this project.





    7. What have been the biggest problems so far?


    It’s a big investment, having already spent around 30,000 Euros on the renovation and various licensing costs, our biggest problem is covering the costs and finishing it in time for our October opening. But I’m optimistic we can do it.



    I’ve started a fundraising campaign on Indiegogo to collect funds for the final touches; painting, plastering, tiling and bar equipment, and I’ve been very touched by all the offers of help! The fundraising campaign is here: https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/completing-sarah-s-jazz-club-in-nicosia-cyprus



    8. When do you expect to open?



    We plan to open in October 2015, and look forward to making beautiful music.



    --



    Nicknamed ‘Lady Jazz’, renowned Cyprus-based Jazz and Blues singer Sarah Fenwick has recorded three hit Jazz CDs, the most recent is ‘Jazz Origins’ with Cypriot guitarist Marinos Neofytou.



    Concert highlights include The Haifa Blues Festival in Israel, The Aphrodite Hills Jazz Festival, Cyprus Music Days Festival, Limassol Jazz Festival, Le Scimmie Club in Milan, and hundreds of performances in theatres and live music venues in Cyprus and abroad.



    “Sarah has a great voice” Cyprus Mail


    “Unmissable” Time Out


    “Superb voice, and wonderful stage charisma” MyCyprusInsider



    She started singing professionally in 1991, and produces most of her own shows and CDs.



    Sarah has a three-octave voice, and trained in classical vocal technique. She is passionate about live improvisation and supporting jazz and blues in Cyprus.



    She is half-Cypriot and half-English, and was born in Nakuru, Kenya in 1966. Having lived in the Cayman Islands, Cyprus, the UK, Germany, the US and Switzerland, Sarah is devoted to multiculturism and loves Jazz for its diverse cultural influences.



    Contacting Sarah ...



    Website: www.sarahfenwick.com


    Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/sarahfenwickjazz


    Twitter: https://twitter.com/SarahJazzSinger


    Email: sarah@sarahfenwick.com



  • Are you having a tough time making ends meet, trying to survive on what you produce? Join the club with thousands of members who try and do the same. Being an artist is so much more than making money – but without that commodity, we go hungry.

    I have just read one of the most insightful articles that I have seen in a long time. I will not quote from it but if you are interested, here is the link: http://www.artbusiness.com/how-to-survive-as-an-artist.html  - it is a fairly long article and the information is of diamond quality. Certainly worth reading if you want to equip yourself better than the next artist!

    This question of survival has been running through my mind for a few months now. I have been working closely with many artists over the years and the one question they ask more than any other is: ‘How do I survive from my art?’  I hope the article that I mentioned above will give you a great boost towards the answer to the question.

    I have noticed during the recent organisation of an art and craft exhibition that there was an underlying atmosphere of quite panic. The economy is improving but it is a slow process. Meanwhile, we all have to put a crust or two on the table and that becomes even more difficult if one has dependents. If your only means of support is through the practice of your art, times can become difficult. Art is a luxury few can afford nowadays ...

    I would urge every artist to enter the networking forum, communicate with each, arrange mini art-trails in your area with other artists who would be willing to open their studios and workspaces for a Sunday or a weekend. It is very easy to become hostile to competition, but my advice is to become a sharer of good things – if you hear of, or know, a way by which to increase traffic to your work, and to the work of other like-minded people around you, get together and let it happen. There truly is nothing grander than to put a smile on someone’s face. 

    We are entering the Festive Season now and the lack of funds make it all the more difficult to put that smile on your own face. Persevere! Never give up doing what you love doing – you are doing it because you love doing it. Keep on doing it – despite the setbacks! Get ready for the next big thing in your life – it is just around the next bend or behind the next closed door. Just keep on going!

    Maria Etheridge ©

    (Photo Credit:  www.artbusiness.com)

  • Having lived in Cyprus for almost fourteen years, due to all sorts of reasons, I have never properly explored what lay within the walls of Old Nicosia.

    A happy coincidence, which forced me to travel to Nicosia from Paphos where I live, opened up a whole new adventure.  

    I had decided to stay over for one night as I had business to attend to on both days I scheduled there. A very kind gentleman offered to be my guide and once I had checked into my hotel, we set off on our journey of exploration.

    What an eye-opener!

    Amongst the many places I experienced  was Studio Karaffia – a glass emporium. That set me thinking about the history of glass. We use glass every day of our lives without giving it a second thought. I briefly mentioned it in my book that was published in 2007*, but recently looked further into glass and its origins. 

    It appears that they started making glass in Mesopotamia some 5500 years ago. Egypt followed but strangely, China was a late starter, only some 3700 years ago; their ceramics were more on the forefront.

    It appears that the first glass was probably obtained by one of those happy accidents when hot metal slags dripped onto dirt floors and the result were beads. The Romans took glass-making to a new high and evidence of their jewel-like quality glass is still being unearthed in archaeological digs.  

    There is, of course, a difference between crystal and glass. Crystal, in its natural crystalline state, is mined and nowadays, brutally forced from the earth. Naturally occurring crystal is pure and highly valued for its spiritual and healing attributes.

    Crystal as in goblets and decanters was made with about 24% lead added to the mix. However, because of its toxicity, most crystal these days is made with a lead substitute. Swarovski and Waterford still use the real thing and for that reason their products are pricy. Historically, the rich used crystal-ware to store their wines and spirits and there is a theory that the lead was the culprit that caused gout – often attributed to heavy drinking!

    It is well worth your time to visit one of these glass-makers’ workshops and experience the thrill of seeing the process of creation happening right there in front of you. There are a few around the island, one in Paphos on the waterfront, one in Limassol near Hero’s Square and the one I mentioned in Nicosia. Take some time out and go feast your eyes.

    Maria Etheridge
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