IdeasCity Athens was conceived in partnership with NEON Foundation, a nonprofit group devoted to broadening the appreciation, understanding, and creation of contemporary art in Greece. Like IdeasCity Detroit, the Athens program was organized around a global studio laboratory—a five-day series of workshops, site visits, lectures, and discussions with local experts, including artists, designers, policymakers, and community members—followed by a public presentation and a conference, all of which took place from September 19-25, 2016. Participants in the laboratory were selected through an open call process and worked together to develop ideas and strategies that respond to the challenges facing the city of Athens. The IdeasCity Fellows lived and worked in the Athens Conservatory, transforming the space into the multi-functional hub of cultural activity.
Throughout the day-long public conference, which also took place in the Athens’ Conservatory, a group of local and international artists, activists, and theorists discussed and observed Athens from the perspective of two key forces that are defining cities today: the flow of humanity and the flow of capital. As a primary flash point in the rapidly escalating refugee crisis, Athens was, and still is, facing unprecedented challenges in the recent history of Western civilization. Yet, the city also represents a destination, a center of hope and survival, and a place where one can conceive new realities.