Heidi Trautmann

683 - CVAR - Centre of Visual Arts and Research – Opening Ceremony in September 2014

By Heidi Trautmann


It could not have been a more beautiful evening for the opening of the CVAR with the name of the Centre written in three languages in Turkish, Greek and English to emphasize the mission the initiators, the members of the Foundation have been following since its formation, that is ….To promote culture, education, peaceful coexistence, understanding and cooperation amongst the people of Cyprus and between Cyprus and its neighbours.


We came from Lokmaci Crossing, immediately turning to the left from Ledra Street towards the market, along the excavations and the Power House and kept as close to the buffer zone as possible. On the way we recognised the changes and house renovations, the clearing up of places and creating new spaces within the old quarter until we came to Ermou Street, a hidden street with old Ottoman houses; coming by car around the old city, it is a stone throw away from Famagusta Gate.

There exists a short film to demonstrate the renovation works done to the building which could not have been realised without the help of many, especially in financial matters.

We were greeted by Rita Severis and her husband Costas in the beautiful entrance hall leading to the inner courtyard where already hundreds of guests had gathered, the diplomatic corps, artists and writers, politicians and business men, university people from both sides of the island. We were immediately directed to the upper terrace from where we had a good view over the roofs of the Old City, with the Muezzin calling at his proper time and the sun polishing the sky spanning over the new building and its initiators.

While we were waiting for the ceremony to start, I would like to give a short glimpse into the CVAR programme which I found on their website www.severis.org


Since 1999, the Foundation has organized cultural and educational events while promoting research and scholarship in Cyprus.

In 2013, the Foundation began implementing the Sharing History, Art, Research and Education (SHARE) initiative, a partnership program between the Costas and Rita Severis Foundation, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), the Turkish Cypriot University Women’s Association, and the NGO Support Center. The goal of SHARE is to provide a common platform for the exploration of the island’s cultural heritage through visual and creative arts and through this to increase the potential for peaceful coexistence in Cyprus. 

In 2014, the Foundation opened the Centre of Visual Arts and Research (CVAR) on Ermou Street in the heart of the walled city of Nicosia.  The CVAR hosts the Costas and Rita Severis collections, which include more than 1.500 works of art by traveling artists to Cyprus during the 18th, 19th and 20th  centuries, hundreds of pieces of Cypriot memorabilia (including from Government House), dozens of Cypriot costumes from the 18th to the 20th centuries, and more than 5.000 books on the history, art and culture of Cyprus and its neighbours.  The CVAR also contains a research centre, café and roof garden where it hosts workshops and seminars, screens films and slide shows, and organizes a wide range of activities to promote understanding.


The Foundation is governed by a Board of Directors.


Mr. Costas Z. Severis, President

Mrs. Rita C. Severis, Executive Director

Dr. Demetrios Michaelides, Member and Professor of Classical Archaeology

Mr. Ninos Hadjiroussos, Member and Businessman

Dr. Müge Şevketoglu, Member and Archaeologist

Ms. Gülden Plumer Küçük, Member, Businesswoman and Member of the United Nations Committee for Missing Persons

Dr. Ayla Gürel, Member and Researcher

Mr. Symeon Matsis, Member and Former Director of the Planning Bureau

Dr. Michael Sarris, Member and Former Minister of Finance

The Foundation strives to include Cyprus’ diverse perspectives in all of its work, by including members from all communities on the island on its Board.

Our Sponsors and Supporters

The Foundation is grateful for the longstanding support of its activities and publications by a number of privately- and publicly-held companies including the Hellenic Bank and the Shacolas Group of Companies.  It is also thankful to all of the individuals – from Cyprus and abroad – who have donated items, memorabilia and archives to the collections. 

The construction and launch of the Centre of Visual Arts and Research would not have been possible without the financial support, help and encouragement of organizations including the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), the EEA Norwegian Fund, the United Nations Development Programme’s Action for Cooperation and Trust (UNDP-ACT) program, the De Minimis program, the Nicosia Municipality and the British Council.   

The Foundation is also pleased to partner with USAID, the Turkish Cypriot University Women’s Association and the NGO Support Centre for the implementation of the Sharing History, Art, Research and Education (SHARE) initiative.

We are deeply grateful to all our supporters and are always eager to hear from organizations and individuals who share our vision and would like to partner on future programs.



The speakers stood up and retold the story of the Centre and finally HE the President of the Republic of Cyprus Mr. Nicos Anastasiades held his inauguration speech and congratulated the Chairman and Directors of the Costas and Rita Severis Foundation. It is thus handed over to the service of the public and its future programme of art, culture and education.  I would like to add my personal appreciation for this work and the idea that goes with it: Working together and respecting each other is the only basis progress can develop on.  


I must come again and have a closer look at all the treasures in the building which include more than 1000 paintings left by the visitors to Cyprus starting with the 18th century; over 5000 books of history, and archival material waiting for budding and travelling researchers. There will be many programmes which will be announced separately and I am surely going to follow that up.

I own Rita Severis’ book for many years and it has been a great pleasure to study it and on this first evening in the Centre I recognised many originals in the halls of the Centre.


You will find all the details concerning opening hours, map on their website www.severis.org .

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