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Maribor – European Capital of Culture 2012

Submitted by on 18 Jul 2012 – 16:26

By Jasmina Godec, Public Relations, Maribor 2012

An upswing that will be felt by generations to come

In the year 2012, Maribor in Slovenia – together with the Portuguese city of Guimarães – has the honour of being European Capital of Culture (ECOC). It is being ‘assisted’ by its partner towns Murska Sobota, Novo mesto, Ptuj, Slovenj Gradec and Velenje.

Becoming European Capital of Culture is a great responsibility, since every ECOC must meet strict content-related and organisational criteria established by the cultural institutions of the EU. At the same time, the title is a historic opportunity for the sustainable transformation of the city, since it seeks to bring long-term improvements and structural changes. Moreover, there is also room for spiral acceleration. And it is this “spin” that forms the basis of Maribor’s image as European Capital of Culture: the central idea is circular buoyant energy which is reflected in the slogan “The Turning Point.” and the shiny spinning top as its tangible manifestation.

In 2012, Maribor offers a colourful range of events and programmes. One of the basic prerequisites is that the events must resound to the fullest and leave an echo that will resonate in the city’s mental landscape for times to come. The quintessence of the cultural capital is addressing a great variety of people, touching both locals and the numerous visitors who are welcomed warmly in the city that is already awaiting them. The cultural programme offers theatre, film, literature, dance, visual arts, architecture and much more. The highlights will be performances by a number of outstanding Slovenian and international ensembles and solo artists.

Numerous festivals and events are bringing new life to the six partner towns of the European Capital of Culture and to the whole east cohesion region of Slovenia. Murska Sobota is renowned for its contemporary dance festival Fronta and Velenje for the Pippi Longstocking Festival. Novo mesto boasts the jazz festival Jazzinty and Fotopub, which seeks to provide new insights into photography. However, the high point of the town’s ECOC programme will undoubtedly be the rock opera The Man with the Bombs, which will premiere at the biggest Slovenian rock festival, Rock Otočec. In Ptuj, spring was welcomed by the Art and Heritage Festival, while summer will offer a wide range of events, most prominently the festivals Art Stays and Arsana as well as the Days of Poetry and Wine. As the birthplace of the ingenious master of late Romantic music Hugo Wolf (1860 – 1903), Slovenj Gradec will remember the great composer with a series of concerts at the newly opened Hugo Wolf Memorial Museum. Finally, in Maribor a great number of events and festivals will take place from January to December, especially noteworthy of which are the multicultural Lent Festival and Maribor Festival, the festival of classical music. A special group of ECOC events is dedicated to connecting and interlinking the programmes of the partner towns. A typical example of these networking projects is the exhibition Oof, Industry. This visual art project showcases the history of design and advertising of a number of major companies in Maribor and the partner towns, some of which do not exist anymore. The focus here will be on highlighting how the companies’ creativity and innovation affected the whole region.

Venue-wise, preference will be given to urban locations within the area formerly confined by the city wall. A stream of cultural events will turn the old city centre into one big stage on which the residents of Maribor and their guests will meet and interact. The area in question is rich in the historic “unconscious”, which has to be unveiled subtly and channelled into the “conscious”. The old (and the more recent) urban tissue is a living organism that needs to be defined and re-defined time and again – also with the help of culture in the broadest sense of the word.

If for any reason you will not be able to visit the European Capital of Culture Maribor 2012, the ECOC will come to you.  Of course in the form of reflections on the ECOC that are already available on the internet; and in the form of content that electromagnetic waves carry around the world and into space – not only for informative and documentary purposes, but also as an interactive incentive that makes it possible for anyone to participate in the project at any time (

Since both traditionalistic as well as avant-garde culture lose their weight when confronted with a neglected environment and degrading social circumstances, Maribor as the European Capital of Culture decided to “take a look beyond”.  The part of the programme, called Urban Furrows, has been created by an engaged scientific research group of highly qualified experts from the fields of sociology, anthropology, social work, ecology, agronomy, law, traffic and visual art.  As a result, special attention has been devoted to the integration of marginalised groups, including immigrants, in order to facilitate harmonious coexistence. Also noteworthy in this regard are plans which are already being turned into reality and which promote local self-supply with organic food. As part of the plan, undeveloped sites and stretches of fertile land in the urban centre and the surroundings of Maribor will be used for cultivation.

Suzana Žilič Fišer, PhD, Director General, MARIBOR 2012 – European Capital of Culture, made the following statement:

An opportunity for a common story

“The project, which we see as the mobilisation of varied artistic events, actually has a much broader dimension. Through creativity in the field of culture, it calls on all areas of society to seek motivation for shared activities and social progress. The arena of operations of the European Capital of Culture involves culture in the broadest possible sense – the culture of living, the culture of dialogue, and the cultural identity of the environment, whose breadth defines us. It defines us as individuals, as residents and citizens; it defines us as personalities who shape space with their creative activity and cultural awareness. The very awareness that we shape this space, that we live with the consequences, which affect many generations, is an extremely important aspect of the European Capital of Culture project.”