Although 2017 is considered a year zero for the ‘Novi Sad 2021’ project, which means it is directed towards establishing rules of conduct and stable organisation structure, the employees of the ‘Novi Sad 2021 – European Capital of Culture’ foundation have implemented numerous activities, since the Foundation was founded on 5 January, in order to implement the European Capital of Culture – one of the most important cultural projects and the most successful initiative of the European Union.
During January, the expert team of the Foundation in charge of participation, inclusion and education was mostly busy with the preparation of the Work Plan, as well as drafting action plans and strategies in order to adopt the Work Plan of the Foundation together with the financial plan. The team thoroughly reviewed all the projects listed in the bid-book, and short-listed those that should be implemented during 2017. Based on the selected projects, the team created programme activities in the area of participation, inclusion and education.
The expert team of the Foundation for participation, inclusion and education has had more than 120 activities. Among other things, a series of meetings have been held with the goal to establish strategic partnerships with the Student Cultural Centre of Novi Sad, OPENS 2019 team, ‘Environment Engineering Group’ civic association, and Faculty of Philosophy.
When it comes to the international plan, the members of the expert team for international cooperation and EU funds organised meetings with international organisations such as EURODOC, Japanese foundation, and Faculty of Political Sciences, Philosophy and Communication Sciences at the West University of Timișoara.
Furthermore, among the international activities, we should point out that Vuk Radulović, Head of the sector for international cooperation, participated at the Danube Conference, where he presented the ‘Novi Sad 2021’ concept, and invited cultural organisations from the Danube Region to cooperate within the DanubiaNS programme line. Petr Simon, foreign advisor for the ‘Novi Sad 2021’ project, participated in Budapest at the ‘Beyond the Obvious/ Europe, quo vadis’ conference, where he presented the ‘Novi Sad 2021’ concept and Youth Creative Polis project. Communication has been established with 12 ECoC projects, 20 meetings have been held, and connection was established with 15 new cultural organisation from the Danube Region. The expert teams of the sector for international cooperation and EU funds participated in connecting, communication and submitting applications for six international projects. We should add that the expert team of the Foundation have written applications for two projects in the second call for projects within the cross-border cooperation between Hungary and Serbia. One of these projects Culture on the palm – Palmculture is for the Faculty of Sciences, while the second one Soundbeam is for the Special Education School Dr Milan Petrović.
From January until March, the representatives of the Sector for International Cooperation held numerous meetings with great number of representatives of different local and international organisations and institutions, and meetings have been held both with physical presence and via electronic communication. These were the meetings with the representatives of the European Commission and Panel, other ECoCs – Paphos 2017, Wrocław 2016, Pécs 2010, Rijeka 2020, then with local subjects, representatives of the Ministry of Culture, embassies of Poland, Slovakia, and Cyprus, Government of Lower Austria, Creative Europe Desk, Serbian workers in culture that live and work abroad, and many others.
The artistic concept of the ‘Novi Sad 2021’ project, according to suggestions of the European Commission Panel, will be finalised after naming the artistic director of the Foundation. The Foundation has initiated preparatory activities in order to review needs regarding the acquisition of multimedia equipment for implementation of artistic activities, predominantly for the Danube Promenade, New Year, Europe Day and Sculpture Park at the Gallery Square.
In order to implement the activities that are undertaken as obligation after winning the ECoC title, and in accordance with the bid-book, research and evaluation projects and activities will be implemented during 2017. During January and February, input data necessary for implementation of public calls for evaluation and research activities were collected. Subsequently, in the following period, we can expect more concrete activities in this area.
During January and February, the expert team of the Foundation in charge of communication and marketing was mostly working on the strategy on internal and external communication, sponsor packages and the Cult:Tour project. In this period, there were more than 490 publications in local and regional media, as well as on the ‘Novi Sad 2021’ website, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram profiles.
For the purposes of strategic planning, members of the Foundations held a meeting where urban development plan for reconstruction of the former industrial complex ‘Petar Drapšin’ was presented. This complex should be transformed into, for this region, unique centre for young and creative people – Youth Creative Polis. The team discussed ways in which to establish cooperation with current users of this space and with interested members of the public. This meetings was initiated by the public discussion held on 8 February 2017 in the Blue Hall of the City Assembly of Novi Sad, when the urban development plan was presented to the public. The meeting was well attended by various interest groups.
In addition to all mentioned above, Nemanja Milenković, the CEO of the Foundation, has had numerous media and guest appearances, among which we should point out presentation of the cultural and tourist potentials to Chinese investors in the Embassy of China in Belgrade, as well as meeting with the legendary American actor John Savage, known for starring in the film Hair, who gave his full support to the ‘Novi Sad 2021 – European Capital of Culture’ foundation.