Although there is probably no citizen of Novi Sad who hasn’t heard that their city has been proclaimed the European Capital of Culture or hasn’t encountered some of the many programmes happening during the preparation year, we are hereby reminding you that there is exactly 365 days left until the title-year-opening ceremony.
On 13 January 2022, at Doček, which is currently available to watch via online concerts that are going to be held in various city locations and that present new spaces for culture, Novi Sad will make the prestigious title official, while on 31 December, which also represents closing of the title, is also symbolically scheduled during Doček. And while programme for 2022 is already being prepared, we’re bringing you a brief overview of what the European Capital of Culture gave the city.
Having in mind the specific image that Novi Sad nurtures in the region, as well as in Europe and the world, it was certainly not a big surprise when it was proclaimed the European Capital of Culture by the European Commission in Brussels in October 2016. However, this is the first time that a city in Serbia and one of the few cities from the candidate countries for the European Union has won this prestigious title. Novi Sad was supposed to justify the title in 2021, but due to the pandemic crisis, and showing solidarity with Eleusis and Timișoara, the title year was moved to 2022.
The European Capital of Culture went beyond the current framework in strategic, programme and production terms with The Beginning of New. Now! mission, which implied numerous challenges. Still, the results were exceptional: in 2019, the European Commission declared Novi Sad the best European Capital of Culture in the preparation phase. The same year, the Project 33 was completed, which included almost all cultural institutions and their representatives in the city, and within which a five-year plan for strategic planning in culture in Novi Sad was developed.
During the coronavirus pandemic in 2020, a project to support the local art scene was launched, whose programmes were watched by almost 200.000 people via online broadcasting. The citizens of Novi Sad were also presented the Network of cultural stations, a unique model for culture in Novi Sad, with eight new and renovated spaces intended for cultural events in all parts of the city. In addition to these legacies, Visit Novi Sad, a unique platform for culture that brings new and old stories about Novi Sad, presents the faces of the city that you must meet and suggests events that should not be missed, was launched.
After almost 300 years, the Suburbium of the Petrovaradin Fortress got its new appearance, while the former factory for silk dyeing in the Almaš neighbourhood, was reconstructed after two centuries. In addition to this, citizens of Novi Sad are being presented with the heritage of the Great Liman, a place where the modern Novi Sad was born, but a place that hasn’t been much explored until recently. The old industrial zone that was located here, as well as the Štrand Beach as one of the most important city toponyms, sports objects, and spaces dedicated to alternative cultural events in the past, are now becoming meaningful historical, cultural, ambient and, of course – tourist wholes.
Two biggest legacy projects of the European Capital of Culture, Doček and Kaleidoscope of Culture, went beyond in production and artistic quality of such events. While the two-day Doček forever changed the concept of marking New Year by celebrating two dates, two calendars and two alphabets in the name of multiculturalism in Novi Sad, the Kaleidoscope of Culture presented programmes in every corner of the city through five types of art, during five weeks. Doček on 13 January celebrates New Year according to the old Serbian calendar at more than 50 city locations with hundreds of performers and artists from across the country, region and the world, while Kaleidoscope of Culture, during more than a month, presents new places and programmes as a result of year-long processes initiated by the European Capital of Culture.
A historical moment in the cultural life of Novi Sad – opening the City Concert Hall, as well as the Music and Ballet schools building, took place within Doček 7529, which was broadcast on visitns.rs. After more than a century, these schools will get their permanent place, while Novi Sad awaits the title year with the first space in the city intended for concerts only. One of the most contemporary objects of this type in Europe opened its doors with the gala concert of Stefan Milenković, Camerata Academica and Vasil Hadžimanov, which was Stefan Milenković’s first performance since he had officially confirmed that he was returning to Serbia. Here, in Novi Sad, the world-famous violinist found his home, becoming the artistic director of the newly built institution as well.
In Novi Sad, culture is becoming a way of life. With the title, cultural capacities and potentials of the city received official confirmation, but what is even more important is the aspiration for the cultural identity, its heritage and its representatives, to question themselves, and, as a consequence, do even better things in the future. Tamás Szucs, director of Directorate for Culture and Creativity of the European Commission, considers the work done so far and cooperation with our European Capital of Culture to be great, which is the last confirmation of Novi Sad – European Capital of Culture being on the right path.
Author: Leona Pap
Photo: Vladimir Veličković, Jelena Ivanović