British Committee for the Reunification of the Parthenon Marbles
|Founder||James Cubitt, Eleni Cubitt|
|Purpose||To communicate the moral and artistic grounds for the reunification of the fragmented Parthenon marbles in the Acropolis Museum, Athens|
The inspiration for the campaign came from Melina Mercouri, who strongly argued for the restitution of the Parthenon marbles.
James Cubitt, a British architect, who firmly believed that the Parthenon Marbles, as integral architectural members of a unique and internationally valuable monument, should be assembled together in a museum as close to the Acropolis as possible. This would restore the beauty and meaning of the Parthenon, as well as its physical and scholarly integrity. He met with Melina Mercouri and Jules Dassin in Athens to discuss the idea of setting up a British campaign.
In October 1983, a British Committee was formed: the British Committee for the Restitution of the Parthenon Marbles
The aims of the Committee, as originally defined, are as follows:
"To secure the reunification of the Parthenon Marbles to Greece in accordance with the resolution of the UNESCO Conference of Ministers of Culture held in Mexico on 4 August 1982. To this end - we intend to present the case as fully as possible to the British public and to bring the most effective pressure on the Trustees of the British Museum and the British Government."
The Committee was then set up in 1983 under the chairmanship of Robert Browning (Byzantinist), Emeritus Professor of Greek at the University of London, an eminent scholar and polymath, internationally renowned and universally respected. James Cubitt was the first honorary member for the Committee, sadly he died in the same year. Eleni Cubitt, film producer and wife of James Cubitt became the Secretary and in 2010 she retired and continues to be the Founder for the Committee.
The British Committee for the Reunification of the Parthenon Marbles (BCRPM) is based in United Kingdom and its current Honorary President Chairman is Edward O'Hara, former MP.
The first members who joined the Committee were:
- Christopher Price, journalist, broadcaster, former MP
- Graham Binns, broadcaster administrator
- Brian Clark, playwright
- Sir Michael Dummett, professor
- W. G. (George) Forrest, professor
- John Gould, professor
In 2005, based on discussions with the public, the committee changed its name from British Committee for the Restitution of the Parthenon Marbles to British Committee for the Reunification of the Parthenon Marbles, as it was felt that out of all the arguments surrounding the Parthenon (Elgin) Marbles, that of reunifying two separated collections was perceived by many people as the most compelling.
The BCRPM's committee consists of:
- Professor Anthony Snodgrass Honorary President
- Mr Edward O'Hara, Chairman
- Mr Chris Price Honorary Deputy Chairman
- Mr Eleni Cubitt Founder
- Mr George Bizos Human Rights Lawyer
- Dr Tom Flynn, art historian
- Dr Christopher Stockdale, events include swimming for the marbles (July 2000 Delos to Paros, 26 nautical miles) and cycling for the marbles (May 2005 London to Athens 2,200 miles)
- Professor Oliver Taplin, scholar
- Professor Paul Cartledge, scholar
- Professor Judith Herrin, scholar
- Mr Keith Hunter OBE
- Mrs Marlen Godwin
Current and past supporters of the Committee include:
- Professor A A M Bryer, scholar
- Edward Enfield
- Sir John Mortimer
- Ted, Baron Willis
- C.M. Woodhouse, 5th Baron Terrington, soldier, scholar, MP
- Frederick, 4th Baron Ponsonby, politician
- Janet Suzman
- Spike Milligan
- Tom Flynn, Art historian
- Christina Borg, journalist
- Andrew Dismore, politician
BCRPM received support from the actors:
The sponsors of the Committee, who financed exhibitions and events for the campaign, include:
Over the past three decades the British Committee’s campaign included a travelling exhibitions, a sponsored swim and cycle ride by Dr Chris Stockdale, book launches, lectures, presentations, workshops, debates, polls and peaceful protests.
Since the opening of the Acropolis Museum the Committee has facilitate a number of visits to Athens for journalists, politicians and museologists.
In June 2012, the British Committee for the Reunification of the Parthenon Marbles in conjunction with American Committee for the Reunification of the Parthenon Sculptures and the International Organising Committee – Australia – for the Restitution of the Parthenon Marbles, organised an International Colloquy timed to coincide with the anniversary of the opening of the Acropolis Museum and the occasion of the London Olympics which started one month later. The first day was a collection of presentations and discussions held at London’s Hellenic Centre, this was followed by the presentation ‘Missing since 1801’ at the British Museum.
In November 2013 the colloquy will take place in Sydney, Australia and in 2014 in the USA.
The Oxford Union debate in 2004: the outcome was 133 in favour of returning the Parthenon marbles to Athens & 75 against.
The Cambridge Union debate in 2008, ‘This House would return the Parthenon Marbles to the New Acropolis Museum in Athens’: the outcome was 117 in favour and 46 against.
Both these debates had great difficulty in finding people to speak against the motion.
Committees that also support the cause
- American Committee for the Reunification of the Parthenon Sculptures, Inc
- Greek Committee for the Reunification of the Parthenon Marbles
- International Association for the Reunification of the Parthenon Sculptures, with 17 Committee members
- International Organising Committee-AUSTRALIA-For the Restitution of the Parthenon Marbles, Inc
- Marbles Reunited
- South African Committee for the Reunification of the Parthenon Sculptures
Organisations that support the cause
- Tom Flynn, The Universal Museum (Lulu, 2012)
- Christopher Hitchens, The Parthenon Marbles: A Case for Reunification (with a preface by Nadine Gordimer and essays by Robert Browning and Charalambos Bouras) (Verso, May 2008)
- Dorothy King, The Elgin Marbles (Hutchinson, January 2006)
- Mary Beard, The Parthenon (Profile Books, 2004)
- Jeanette Greenfield 'The Return of Cultural Treasures'(Cambridge University Press 2007)
- Ian Jenkins, The Parthenon Frieze (British Museum Press, 2002)
- William St Clair, Lord Elgin and the Marbles (Oxford University Press, 1998)