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The candidacy preparation process

The project team of Piran’s candidacy for the European Capital of Culture Piran2025 (EPK PI2025) deeply regrets the level of discussions about the project, that took place in recent days and were related to its consideration at the special session of the Municipal Council of Piran on 23 November. That’s why we have prepared the following explanations for the public, the audience and many creators and institutions working in the field of culture in Slovenia and in six Mediterranean countries, as well as 35 European Union countries, and 512 organizations that participated in the preparation of the candidacy and supported it. At this point we also have to emphasize that the candidacy and the joint cultural strategy were approved by the councilors of the municipalities of Izola, Ankaran and the City of Koper with acclamation.

The European Capital of Culture, as the European Union’s most important initiative in the field of culture, emphasizes the richness and diversity of European cultures, common cultural heritage, the promotion of intercultural dialogue and mutual understanding between European citizens as its fundamental objective. Therefore, the preparation of a candidacy essentially means cooperation and inclusion and it can’t be a project of individuals, one group, municipality or state. Furthermore, its objectives always emphasize sustainable and long-term development impacts.

In the dispute related to the discussion at the session of the Municipal Council of Piran Municipality, we were primarily accused that the preparation of a joint cultural strategy of Slovenian municipalities was not sufficiently inclusive and that the proposed establishment of a joint coordination body would jeopardize current and future development of public institutions active in the field of culture in Slovenian Istria, as well as cultural creators affected by the consequences of the health crisis.

Our position and purpose are just the opposite: much more connection and cooperation is needed between municipalities and institutions in Slovenian Istria exactly because of the situation in which culture and society as a whole found themselves; the process of obtaining the title and the title European Capital of Culture itself are a great opportunity for the development of culture and related activities in the area of Slovenian Istria and in the cross-border region. The members of the international commission that reviewed the first bid book of our candidacy, the ECOC PI2025, encouraged us by their ascertainment that we have prepared a candidacy that has a strong European character. In its preparation, we creatively included all segments of cultural creativity in four municipalities of Slovenian Istria, from the creative and artistic spheres to public institutions in the field of culture, non-governmental organizations and independent creators in culture. Its creation is the result of the work of the 25-member artistic board, a wide range of workshop participants and other stakeholders active in the various stages of the process.

The second application book, entitled Wave of Changes, was submitted within the application deadline. We deeply regret that some councilors of the Piran City Council withdrawn their approval of the Strategy.PIKA and endangered our candidacy. Namely the absence of regions in Slovenia is replaced by inter-municipal integration, and strategic commitment of all four municipalities is the basis for the candidacy.

The time of the pandemic, which puts a mighty pressure on society and culture, demands that we hugely strengthen cooperation in community, between municipalities and across the cultural field. This was also indicated by a survey among cultural audiences in the municipalities of Slovenian Istria, conducted during the summer. Withdrawal of support to the Strategy.PIKA by the Municipal Council of the Piran Municipality, and a sudden change of viewpoint of directors of some reputable public cultural institutions (most of whom are also members of the ECOC PI2025), impairs the chances of Slovenian Istria to participate in the European Olympics of Spirit, which the European Capital of Culture certainly is. Involvement in this worthwhile endeavor has been our fundamental impetus in the preparation of the application and the joint strategy, and we therefore firmly reject the allegations that our primary purpose was to hold positions.

We invite Municipal councilors of the Piran Municipality and all interested citizens to read our second bid book Wave of change, The wave of change is already here, with or without the ECOC PI2025 candidacy. But we need cultural, political, human dialogue and cooperation – today more than ever.

To give you a better insight into the course of our activities during the past two years, we would like to give you some data and facts.

The candidacy preparation process

  • Beginning of the preparation process in March 2019 – all four Istrian municipalities appoint a working group, which includes local and foreign experts;
  • Mayors of all four municipalities appoint an artistic board with 25 members, including representatives of cultural stakeholders from all four municipalities  – public institutions, university, research institutions, cultural producers;
  • Around 300 representatives and stakeholders are invited to workshops in groups of different profiles: “young creatives and artists”, “education”, “environment”, “NGOs in the field of culture”, “economy”;
  • In the summer of 2019, workshops with 50 participants who responded to the invitation, take place;
  • Survey on satisfaction with the cultural offer among the population.
  • In November 2019, 50 open meetings with over 70 stakeholders, at which we obtained 150 project ideas and organized them into 26 project sets, take place;
  • Preparation of the first bid book, December 2019;
  • All four coastal municipal councils (including Piran), nine cities of the Croatian part of Istria, Muggia and Trieste (votes at municipal councils), unanimously approved the first project book;
  • In november 2019, Municipal councils of Piran, Izola, Koper and Ankaran uphold application and Statement on the PIKA strategy, the first outline of the Strategy. PIKA, which predicts and defines the final proposal of the Strategy. PIKA;
  • Presentation of the first bid book before the International Commission and designation to the second round, February 2020.
  • Continuation of work with representatives of 57 projects involving around 100 participants, March-August 2020;
  • Prof. Dr. Lučka Kajfež Bogataj, author of the preface to the second bid book and Nobel co-laureate, researcher in the field of climate change, full professor at the Biotechnical Faculty of the University of Ljubljana and head of the Department of Agrometeorology, member of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) in Geneva, joins our bidding team. One of the central themes of our second bid becomes the environmental crisis;
  • Over 100 cultural workers, artists, creators from the region and the wider Slovenia are participating in the preparation of 57 project proposals, and a letter of intent for project cooperation has been signed with 512 partner institutions from 41 countries.

Strategy Kultura.PIKA:

Due to the importance of the common basis as a key function for the development of culture of the four municipalities and the success of the candidacy, the team also participated in the process of preparing the strategy Kultura.PIKA:

  • Following the presentation of the programme to the artistic board of PI2025, including public institutions, we called them for participation in the preparation of the strategy, September 2020;
  • The bidding team participated in the organization of a workshop to prepare a vision and key measures of the strategy; 34 stakeholder representatives from the field of culture participated (public institutions, NGOs, university, ZRS), 52 stakeholders were involved through the online platform, October 2020.
  • Content planning for six investment locations in the field of culture.
  • Preparation and submission of the second bid book.

Information on the financial structure of the project

Estimated value of the ECOC project from 2021 to 2026: EUR 26,690,000

Financial sources:

  • Total contribution of the four municipalities in the period from 2021 to 2026: EUR 12,015,000
  • Contribution of the Republic of Slovenia in the period from 2021 to 2026: EUR 10,000,000 (government resolution already accepted)
  • Contribution from regional partners for the period 2021 to 2026 (Italy, Croatia, letters of intent with a financial assessment already signed): EUR 1,150,000
  • European funds 2021-2026: EUR 1,825,000
  • Sponsors, ticket sales 2021-2026: EUR 1,700,000 (letters of intent signed with major enterprises)

The support from the creators of the cultural programme

The evidence of the fact that the preparation process was conducted in an inclusive and transparent manner is also the letter of support from the creators of the cultural programme, which has so far been signed by:

Hana Ostan Ožbolt and Lena Pislak, ULAY Fundation

Andrej Koruza and Gaja Mežnarić Osole, Association Trajna

Neža Čebron Lipovec

Tatjana Jercog, Društvo prijateljev glasbe

Agata Tomšič and Davide Sacco / ErosAntEros

Katarina Juvančič, free-lance cultural operator

Maja Smrekar

Tadej Droljc

Marco Artusi, Matàz Teatro/Dedalofurioso

Gašper Malej, KUD AAC Zrakogled

Marko Vivoda, Stran 22

Boštjan Bugarič, KUD C3 –  Avtomatik Delovisce

Janez Dovč and Goran Krmac, Zavod Godibodi

Saša Spačal

Robertina Šebjanič

Samanta Kobal, Gajbla

Urška Bradaškja,  actress and pedagogue

Tatiana Kourotchkina, Quo Artis

Emilia Mårtensson, Beyond Vocals

Irena Urbič, Forum Tomizza

Majda Božeglav Japelj, Coastal Galleries Piran

Lorena Pavlič, Zavod Otok

Mario Steffè, Italian Community Santorio Santorio Koper

Manuela Rojec, Italian Community Giuseppe Tartini Piran

Neva Zajc, Primorski poletni festival