The Institute is housed in the Jesuit monastery of Ano Syros and utilizes the monastery’s facilities for multiple activities in accordance with the Institute’s objectives. These can be grouped as follows:
analysis and evaluation of the cultural significance of the islands of the Aegean in general and Syros in particular throughout history. To that end the Institute openly invites researchers that are actively interested in this subject. The Institute will also provide accommodation for them and make all efforts to facilitate their research for as long as it is necessary. In addition, the Institute will host interdepartmental research groups and will pursue funded research programs pertaining to relevant subject areas (see below). One of the Institute's aims is to be able to acquire enough resources so as to be able to have its own funded scholarship programs that will support dissertations, post-graduate degrees, doctoral theses and post-doctoral research programs.
Among the Institute's primary aims is to provide education in the areas of preservation, conservation, promotion and development of cultural heritage and tradition. In this spirit training seminars with university-affiliated academics are organized every year, such as the Interdisciplinary Seminar Series on Sustainable Development, Cultures and Traditions. In addition to specialist seminars aimed at researchers and academics the Institute organizes seminars aimed at educating the general public in subjects pertaining to historical and cultural heritage, and covering an array of disciplines including Philosophy, History, Religion, Social Anthropology, Cultural Geography but also the Arts such as Architecture, Music, Theater, Film etc. Furthermore, in order to retain a constant connection with mainland Greece and the surrounding islands the Institute is fully equipped with the technical facilities to facilitate e-learning and potential use of the Institute's educational programs, seminars and conferences in Post-Graduate Programs, Training Sessions, Continuous Education, Lifelong Learning and Distance Learning.
Continuous and systematic training is also essential in order to ensure that practical or orally transmitted elements of cultural history and heritage are appropriately conserved, restored and protected and to ensure that craftsmen are adequately trained and familiarized with ancient and modern techniques. Building techniques using stone, dry stone wall building, structural design, the coating art of the Cyclades, carpentry, masonry, blacksmithing, bee-keeping, vine growing, semi-arid agriculture etc are all essential parts of local cultural heritage with the potential to become a vital driving force for the development of traditional island economies. The Institute will frequently organize thematic vocational training seminars as part of its educational curriculum. Such seminars may also take place on other islands in order to make this knowledge available to anyone in Cyclades may benefit from it.
NEW APPROACHES TO THE SUBJECT OF TRADITIONS
A place's cultural wealth is its historical and traditional heritage. This specific place has inspired the ideas and the love that led its citizens to create one of most unique and significant civilizations, whose heritage spans through the centuries from prehistoric and classical times till today. The heavy moral obligation of preserving and enriching this heritage is now on our shoulders.
In this spirit, the Institute will make every effort to support and promote the living aspects of tradition and facilitate the development of the ever-evolving logos and mythos of the region. The aim is to promote the exploration of contemporary forms of artistic expression that will make use of every aspect of the place and that will approach with fresh eyes (and ears) the aspects of life that gave birth to traditional folk art. The notable local architectural tradition, for example, should be protected and conserved but it should also be approached anew. In this way the more remarkable elements of traditional architecture will be used as material for contemporary architectural approaches that will address practical everyday needs and will create new living architectural traditions. The same goes for artistic, religious, social and every other aspect of tradition that remains alive and that shapes the current cultural identity of the region as a dynamically evolving process.
The Institute aims to make information on subjects of historical and cultural heritage easily available and accessible.
In line with this effort, the following actions have already been implemented:
- Construction of website with specialized forums that will function as a platform that will encourage the exchange of ideas and promote discussions on all aspects of Syros' culture.
- Use of social networking sites (such as facebook, twitter etc)
- Journal publication of specialist academic articles in both printed and online form
- Presentations in local, national and international television and radio
LECTURES AND EVENTS
Invited academics, researchers and scientists from a wide range of disciplines based in Greece and abroad will be visiting the Institute on a regular basis to give open lectures on issues of cultural heritage but also to present their research (or showcase their work in the arts). Already several distinguished scientists (such as members of the Academy of Athens, university professors and members of the National Hellenic Research Foundation) have participated in such actions. At the same time, the Syros Sound Meetings initiative, active since 2012, combines visits and residencies by distinguished artists and theorists with workshops and concert presentations of their work hosted at the Institute’s premises.
Among the institute’s plans is to organize and/or host at least one yearly academic conference with a different agenda every year that will focus on showcasing and investigating new theses and practices in the areas of protection, conservation, promotion and development of historical and cultural heritage. In addition the institute will co-organize conferences in collaboration with other institutions. The formation of a Conference committee composed of University Professors will be formed for this specific task and due to the complications that may arise during the organization of national or international conferences. This committee will propose, organize and monitor the conduction of each conference
The Institute’s team of researchers and academic consultants will organize specific participatory actions aiming at protecting and promoting local cultural heritage. These actions include the following:
- Young people preserve their heritage. As part of this initiative several youth groups, such as sport and culture clubs, student communities etc, are invited to select one specific aspect of local tradition and folklore and become responsible for its conservation and public promotion. For example the local hunting club could take part in conserving, protecting and promoting the area's caves and water-springs by taking it upon themselves to clean and conserve the specific areas and the foot-paths leading to them but also by becoming responsible for conserving the folk and oral traditions surrounding these areas, including stories, myths, and legends.
- Volunteer work. Groups of volunteers including students, collaborators of the institute as well as locals will take part in excursions in the countryside of Syros and neighbouring islands and will work in repairing, cleaning and restoring minor architectural structures with historical significance such as wells, threshing floors, wine presses, stockades, furnaces etc
- Collaboration with local institutions.g with local Cultural clubs like the Ano Syros Club, the Union of Syrianoi, the Ferekides Club, the Lykeion of Hellenides, the Cybele Institution, the local Haunting Club etc, as well as with local authorities, e.g. the Municipality.
One person will be selected by the Administrative Board to coordinate and monitor any such initiatives
INCLUSION OF SYROS IN THE UNESCO WORLD HERITAGE LIST
After the completion of all the aforementioned actions, the Institute’s long-term goal is to collect the necessary material and credentials to apply for the inclusion of the Hermoupolis area, the medieval settlement of Ano Syros and the entire rural region of Epano Meria in UNESCO’s world heritage list. Although this is a difficult and demanding endeavor we are confident that the Syros Institute will be instrumental in collecting the necessary material and fostering in the local communities the appropriate climate for this to become a fruitful endeavor. It should be noted that such a proposal to UNESCO will need to rely not only on the truly outstanding cultural wealth of Syros but also on the assumption that the residents of Syros will come to recognize the value of their cultural heritage and be encouraged to make every effort to protect it.
THE CANDIDATURE OF SYROS AS THE CULTURAL CAPITAL OF EUROPE 2021
We believe that the proclamation of Syros as Cultural Capital of Europe would not only assist in achieving the aforementioned objectives – particularly the inclusion of Syros in the UNESCO world heritage list, but it would contribute exclusively to the cultural evolution of the region, as well. For this reason, the Institute of Syros actively supports the bid for Syros European Cultural Capital 2021.