In accordance with the Rules of the Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Slovenia, the Municipality of Lendava has already submitted its intention to apply for the European Capital of Culture 2025 title, and is going to submit the application materials at the Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Slovenia in Ljubljana later on today.
To prepare the extremely demanding and extensive application materials we had to engage a wide range of individuals and experts from various fields and areas. The content material was designed by our narrow ECOC project team, consisting of expert associates working for Lendava’s public institutions and the Lendava Municipality as well as our external associates Peter Tomaž Dobrila, Katjuša Kranjc, Matej Fišer and Janez Balažic, who in the final phase of the project, collaborated with translators, who translated the texts into English and graphic designers, who worked on both the printed and electronic version of the application materials.
According to architect and designer Katjuša Kranjc many individuals contributed to the preparation of the project materials. ”I am convinced that we would not have succeeded without the help of many Lendava’s residents and fans, who trully care about Lendava and were willing to provide over 50 valuable opinions and ideas for the purpose of this project. Every contribution, regardless of how big or small, was invaluable. It helped us grasp the concept and understand what Lendava needed and is capable of giving,” she added.
The design of the application materials has taken into account all the guidelines, priorities and recommendations of the European Union, as well as the ideas of the locals, which could all enrich the narrow and wider area in the long run. “With our candidacy, we want to provide a better future for Lendava, our region and Europe itself,” said Lendava’s Mayor Janez Magyar at today’s press conference.
The smallest town to run for the ECOC title
Lendava’s strong and central role derives from its exceptional location, coexistence, bilingualism, different minorities and nationalities, close community relations, integration, connections and ties between different nations and countries. Lendava, as the European Capital of Culture, could undoubtedly contribute to the progress in all fields and areas, both in the narrow and wider space. By making the smallest candidate an ECOC 2025, Europe would prove that it cares about its small and smallest parts and pieces and that all towns and cities are equally important when it comes to maintaining Europe and European ideas.
Slovenia has 212 municipalities and over more than half of its population lives in municipalities with less than 5,000 inhabitants, i.e. in towns such as Lendava, which despite their small size, are culturally rich, artistic, beautiful, authentic and inspiring.
Lendava is not only small, it is also the smallest town that has ever run for the ECOC title. By applying for this prestigious title we would like to confidently present that, in comparisson to big cities, small towns have a number of unique advantages, which we would like to spread and share with the rest of the EU and even beyond. This could be an amazing opportunity to make the “big” ones listen to the “little” ones.
Lendava connected four countries and eight European regions
The geographical location of Lendava is special and remarkable; being part of two triborders ensures good connections with towns and cities in the region as well as beyond our borders. As a border town, Lendava has included a number of European regions into its ECOC candidacy project. Partnership agreements with the Municipality of Lendava for the ECOC project have already been signed with the Council of the Pomurje Development Region, the Murska Sobota Municipality, the Library and Cultural Center Lendava, the County of Međimurje, the Croatian town Čakovec, the Croatian Cultural Association of Pomurje, the Zala County, the national self-governing community of the Hungarian town Zalaegerszeg, the Slovenian National Self-Government, the Union of Slovenes in Hungary and the Austrian town Bad Radkersburg.
The municipality has also received letters of support from over more than forty municipalities, societies, organizations, institutions and individuals.
Lendava is the only candidate so far to implement the program in four countries and eight European regions. In Lendava, all cultural and other events have always had an international connotation – being international is our reality and our natural hinterland, as well as our greatest advantage.
Lendava has already prepared and published its local cultural program for the 2017-2025 period, which was confirmed and approved by the municipal council. The local cultural program as well as our ECOC 2025 candidacy program are fully in line with the European Union Work Plan adopted on 27 November 2018, which sets out the following five priorities for European cooperation in cultural policy-making:
- Sustainability of cultural heritage;
- Cohesion and well-being;
- An ecosystem that supports artists, cultural and creative professionals and European content;
- Gender equality;
- International cultural relations.
In Lendava “we live and talk culture”
“We asked quite a few European-known artists and individuals who’s work has been enriching the wider European space to participate on this project. They all confirmed their participation without hesitation, because they speak our “language”. Regardless of their nationality, we can all understand each other. We hope to convince the jury that small places like Lendava hide true beauty and carry great potential. We believe that Lendava is the only appropriate candidate for the ECOC 2025, because here we live and talk culture,” stated the respresentative of the narrow ECOC project team, architect and designer Katjuša Kranjc in conclusion of today’s press conference.
Lendava’s new partners and supporters in the ECOC candidacy project
Yesterday morning the Lendava Town Hall hosted the Lendava – Europa Futura Forum conference that was later on, in the evening, followed by a formal signing of partnership agreements for the ECOC project and the solemn signing of a twinning agreement with the Hungarian capital. The later represents an upgrade of our already existing cooperation with Budapest.
Lendava – Europa Futura Forum
»Lendava – a vital intersection of cultures, languages and religions, a European laboratory and a living example of the European idea of coexistence and mutual respect. A creative platform for new forms of multidimensional European integration. The identity of our town was formed through tolerant coexistence and the intersection of diversity and acceptance of the new. ” This was the main message of yesterday’s conference with the meaningful title Lendava – Europa Futura Forum.
The Forum, which represents an integral part of the candidacy with a long-term orientation, was created on the initiative of the university professor of philosophy Borut Ošlaj, who has been living in Ljubljana in the last decades, but has always considered himself a sworn resident of Lendava and Walter Pfluger, PhD, who, as it often happens, fell in love with Lendava the first time he visited. These two men combined in related fields and came up with an idea that was revealed at yesterday’s conference, where experts on various topics and from different fields presented their views, knowledge and experience and helped form some of the starting points for the preparing of a successful ECOC application, which is based on cross-border cooperation between Slovenian, Croatian, Hungarian and Austrian towns/cities, regions or counties and everyone, who has already expressed their support to us.
Our candidacy has been supported by Slovenians in Porabje and the Austrian town Bad Radkersburg
We cannot imagine the realization of this project without the support of Slovenians who live abroad and with whom we have been working and closely cooperating for decades now. Our connection with them is based on a common national and linguistic identity, cultural heritage, customs, natural heritage and, last but not least, common development goals. The agreement on participation in the project was signed by the representatives of the two main umbrella organisations of Slovenians in Porabje, the President of the Slovenian National Government, Martin Ropoša, and the President of the Union of Slovenes in Hungary, Andreja Kovač.
The openness, hospitality, rich historical past, cultural diversity and many examples of good practices offered to us by the town of Bad Radkersburg are invaluable. With the involvement of Bad Radkersburg in the ECOC project, in addition to creating a cross-border dimension, we intend to strengthen our existing cultural, tourism and economic cooperations with our neighbouring Austrian town and establish a long lasting genuine friendship. The agreement was signed by the mayor of Bad Radkersburg, Mr. Heinrich Schmidlechner, who sees many opportunities in this partnership.
Twinning with the capital of Hungary
By upgrading the existing cooperation, sharing experiences, offering mutual assistance and creating connections, we plan to write a story about a long-lasting friendship with Budapest. We are connected with this city by a sincere desire for cooperation, good relations and common development goals. With this twinning we want to further connect the inhabitants, preserve the cultural heritage, strengthen cultural exchange, tourism, and above all share and exchange experiences. “Lendava is the closest town in our neighboring countries with a living Hungarian minority, with which Budapest is now twinned and more closely connected than ever. We want to continue this trend also in the future, “said Mayor István Tarlós during the signing of the contract.
The Mayor of Lendava, Janez Magyar, stressed that he was particularly pleased about the closer and tighter cooperation with Budapest and its Mayor István Tarlós, with whom he also attended the Vienna Social Event, initiated by the Ambassador of the Republic of Slovenia in Vienna, Ksenija Škrilec, M.A. At this event the two mayors forged a genuine friendship and took a joint initiative to connect the differently sized town of Lendava and city of Budapest, and they did so with the same amount of enthusiasm and devotion.
Preparation of application materials for Lendava’s candidacy for the European Capital of Culture 2025
Last Thursday, the group in charge of the candidacy materials met again to prepare the necessary materials, with which Lendava will compete for the prestigious ECOC 2025 title and run against five other Slovenian candidates Kranj, Piran, Nova Gorica, Ptuj, and Ljubljana.
For this purpose the expert associates from Lendava’s public institutions and the Lendava Municipality, who work on the preparation of the candidacy materials, are getting help and assistance from our extrenal associates Peter Tomaž Dobrila, Katjuša Kranjc, Matej Fišer and Janez Balažic.
Besides the before mentioned internal and external experts we also recieved help from 50 individuals, who responded to the invitation of the Municipality of Lendava and decided to share their ideas and insights on social development in Lendava for the purposes of our candidacy for the European Capital of Culture. With their unique ideas they have contributed some key topics, which will be included into our ECOC application.
In accordance with the Ministry of Culture regulations the Municipality of Lendava has already submitted its intention to apply for the European Capital of Culture 2025 title, and will have to deliever the application materials in Slovenian and English by December 31, 2019. The intensive activities for the preparation of these materials are underway and have just reached its final stage.
Peter Tomaž Dobrila is an electrical and computer engineer, musician, producer, event organizer and artistic creator. He is the founder of the Kibla Multimedia Center in Maribor and co-founder of many key and groundbreaking media and cultural projects such as the Student-Marsh of the Maribor Radio, Tox Magazine, and an advisor for the Ars Electronica Festival in Linz. He was also a member of the Cabinet of the Ministry of Culture and Director General of the Directorate of Arts for two mandates and is also the initiator and co-author of Maribor’s successful application for the ECOC 2012.
Janez Balažic, PhD. is known as an expert on Central European medieval art, who discusses selected topics related to the 19th and 20th century art, museology and contemporary art at the Department of Art History of the Faculty of Education in Maribor. He is the initiator of several professional meetings, the editor of book collections and professional publications and is the recipient of numerous awards. Janez Balažic is also an extraordinary expert in fine arts and art history of the Pomurje region, who has been cooperating with the Gallery -Museum Lendava and Lendava’s artists for decades now.
Matej Fišer is a master of photography, words and recipes. He is a communication scientist by profession, who in his numerous Prekmurje-related projects combined all of his above mentioned talents. He is the author of the Tradicionalna prekmurska kuharica cookbook (Traditional Prekmurje Cookbook), which is more than just another book about the traditional Prekmurje cuisine – it presents ordinary dishes in form of stories and pictures.
Katjuša Kranjc is an architect who has established herself as a graphic designer. She learned her skills from the greatest masters in her profession. The key graphic images she created on her independent path have been ordered by Telekom Slovenije, the National Museum, the National Assembly of the Republic of Slovenia and the Office of the Republic of Slovenia for Information. Katjuša also prepared the entire graphic image of the Municipality of Lendava. During the last 15 years, Katjuša and her husband, architect and industrial designer Rok Kuhar, have been working together in their private bureau Biro Raketa, which has designed a number of contemporary legendary interiors and received numerous awards in the filed of design. They are both well aware that with their interventions and work they are leaving behind a lasting trace that affects the space and the environment, so they alsways act responsibly and with respect for the already existing.
The Lendava – ECOC 2025 project obtained a regional and cross-border dimension
Last night, the Mayor of the Lendava Municipality, M.A. Anton Balažek, signed an agreement of cooperation within the Lendava – European Capital of Culture 2025 (ECOC) project with the Mayor of the Murska Sobota Municipality Aleksander Jevšek, PhD., the Mayor of the Croatian town Čakovec Stjepan Kovač and the Mayor of Zalaegerszeg Zoltán Balaicz (Hungary).
The Council of the Pomurje Development Region (Slovenia), the Međimurje County (Croatia), the Zala County (Hungary), the Library and Cultural Center Lendava, the Croatian Cultural Association of Pomurje and the Hungarian Self-governing National Community of Pomurje also acceded to this agreement. With them as partners the Lendava – ECOC 2025 project obtained a regional and cross – border dimension.
In 2025 it will be Slovenia and Germany’s turn to pick one of their towns/cities and proclame them the European Capital of Culture (ECOC). Two years ago, Lendava publicly announced its intention to run for the ECOC title, as it wanted to offer Europe an ECOC concept based on cross-border cooperation between Slovenia, Croatia, Hungary and Austria, their towns/cities and regions. The advantage of this cooperation lies in the linguistic diversity, the numerous potentials of the area and the rich cultural coexistence.
It is hard to imagine this project without the support of Murska Sobota, the central town of our region, and the Council of the Pomurje Development Region. Our region is bound together and connected due to its rich cultural heritage, numerous folk customs and traditions, the Prekmurje dialect and cuisine, natural heritage including the Mura River and, last but not least, common development goals. The aim of our project is to preserve the rich cultural tradition, create a common cultural and tourist offer and achieve positive developmental and demographic trends.
The basis for establishing a partnership with the Croatian town Čakovec as a cross-border regional center and the County of Međimurje is very similar. An important link that connects our town to Čakovec is the Croatian Cultural Association of Pomurje, which has been successfully preserving the national identity of the Croatian culture and language for many years now.
Since Lendava is a nationally mixed area, which is reflected, among other things, in the active use of the Hungarian language, the preservation of the Hungarian culture and tradition, and daily coexistence of Slovenes and Hungarians in the local area, it is absolutely natural that within this project we want to connect with the Hungarian town Zalaegerszeg and the Zala County as well. An important contribution to our friendly relations is being created through the Hungarian Self-governing National Community of Pomurje, which, as the umbrella organization of Hungarians in Slovenia, is in close cooperation with the Zala County and other Hungarian towns/cities.
Anton, Balazek, M.A., the Mayor of the Lendava Municipality said that running for the ECOC title is certainly bold, but he believes that it is doable, especially given the great potential of cross-border cooperations. “Does Europe only promote big cities or does it give opportunities to small towns as well? That we will see. In this project we want to expose the local people, culture and our way of living. I personally believe that the ECOC candidacy is not a political project, but rather an economic and tourism project. Not everyone will see eye to eye with me on this matter, but this project is trying to prove that culture is not just something we need to invest in – it can also give abundantly,” the mayor added.
“A lot has happened in these last two years, when Lendava first announced that it will run for the ECOC title. The ECOC Program Council has been successfully operating for over a year now, and today it was time to officially invite partners from our region and from across the border to participate in our project. I am convinced that without these cooperations the project could not be carried out at all. Even though we have just signed our first cooperation agreements today, we remain open to potential new partners in the future. Next, we are going to invite partners from Austria to join us. Even though we are neighbors, we are not a traditionally German speaking area, so we think that we can better and more successfully cooperate with Austria in the field of tourism than culture. “
The mayor of the Murska Sobota Municipality Aleksander Jevšek, PhD. said that his immediate response to Lendava’s invitation was very positive, for he believes that this project has great potential and possibilities to succeed. “Lendava deviates from the average local municipalities in so many ways, e.g. the Vinarium Tower, successful exhibitions of world-class artists creating at the Lendava castle and, last but not least, the candidacy for the ECOC title. That is why me and my colleagues will support and co-create in this project and I am convinced that together, as a region, we can succeed.“
The mayor of Čakovec, Stjepan Kovač, emphasized that he sees the signing of today’s agreement as a way to continue his town’s cooperations with a Slovenian region that has a rich cultural history. “We are glad that you have chosen Čakovec as a partner in your project. The year 2025 is not as far away as it seems, so we need to get down to work as soon as possible. I am sure that by the year 2025 we will give birth to many excellent ideas and implemented projects. “
The mayor of Zalaegerszeg Zoltán Balaicz revealed how happy Zalaegerszeg is to be able to participate in this project and pointed out that he is confident that his town will benefit from this project as well. “Zalaegerszeg with its population of 60,000 people can learn a lot from Lendava, a small town that knows how to prepare large-scale art exhibitions and is growing as a tourist destination. If Lendava comes out of this project as a winner, all other places in the wider region will benefit from it as well.