History of Novi Sad is full of relevant years, events and personalities. One of those that will remain inscribed in golden letters and memories of the “Serbian Athens” is 2016, the year in which Novi Sad was declared the European Capital of Culture 2021 and European Youth Capital 2019.
It is difficult to opt for the most important event in the last year, which was marked by Novi Sad candidacy for the prestigious title of European Capital of Culture 2021.
Among several memorable cultural events, fantastic performances in the open air of our famous violinist Stefan Milenković in Katolička porta and the Youth VU Orchestra from the Netherlands in the courtyard of “Jovan Jovanović Zmaj” Gymnasium, as well as premiere performance of Novi Sad 2021 Symphony Orchestra formed in honor of the final candidacy for Novi Sad European capital of culture in the central hall of the Mercator center in Novi Sad, really stand out.
The past year was marked by one of the most anticipated cultural events, not only in Novi Sad but also in the region, an exhibition New Religion by controversial British artist Damian Hirst. International exhibition Albrecht Dürer and his contemporaries attracted a lot of attention, too and Triumphal Procession of Emperor Maximilian prepared in the Gallery of Matica srpska.
Novi Sad had the honor to host a Nobel Prize winner. The award “Milovan Vidaković”, awarded by the International Festival of prose creativity “Prosefest” of Cultural Center of Novi Sad, presented it to Turkish novelist Orhan Pamuk, who in 2006 won the Nobel Prize for Literature. In his honor, Cultural Center of Novi Sad organized three interesting exhibitions – Orhan Pamuk books in the Serbian language published by “Geopoetika”, an exhibition of rare editions of the first Serbian writer of modern prose, Milovan Vidaković, whose name this international award bears, as well as the exhibition of the International Festival of prose creativity “Prosefest.”
As part of the candidacy activities for European Capital of Culture 2021, the City of Novi Sad adopted a strategically important document – The Cultural Development Strategy of the City of Novi Sad for the period from 2016 to 2026, which provides the basis for long-term directions of cultural development of the city. Certainly, it is important to mention that during the development of the Strategy and preparations of the bid-book, a long-awaited dialogue between the independent cultural scene and the city’s cultural institutions was launched, thus, the slogan- 4 New Bridges.
City of Novi Sad and the team “Novi Sad 2021”, which was preparing Novi Sad candidacy for European Capital of Culture 2021, received constant support during last year – from those which can be considered as the most important, from the citizens, to domestic and foreign European and world famous artists. It is difficult to single out any names, but certainly of great importance were support of the Serbian actress Anica Dobra, world-famous violinist Stefan Milenković, composer Aleksandra Vrebalov, Thomas Wlaschiha actor from the popular series Game of Thrones, Walter Putschögl, Project Director of Linz 2009 European Capital of Culture, the painter and sculptor from Germany Alfred Bradler, Andrea Kopač journalist and expert on modern dance from Slovenia, Karol Méhes writer and advisor of the project Pécs European capital of culture 2010, and many, many others.
At gala cocktail party at the City Hall, the Protocol on Support and Cooperation with the company Mercator-S was signed, as the first partner of the project from the commercial sector. However, the cooperation with Mercator-s had started long before the signing of the Protocol by organizing premiere concert of Novi Sad 2021 Symphony Orchestra formed in honor of the Novi Sad candidacy for the prestigious title of European Capital of Culture. At the same time, it was the first time in our country that Symphony Orchestra performs in the lobby of the mall. Certainly, it is important to mention that the full support, whenever it was needed, was enabled by many Novi Sad utility companies.
During the last year, the City of Novi Sad had also an extensive diplomatic activity. Numerous ambassadors of European countries, whose cities were or will be the European Capitals of Culture, visited our city. In addition to numerous topics to discuss, certainly one of the main was the exchange of experience and full support to successful implementation of the project Novi Sad- European Capital of Culture.
Team Novi Sad 2021 chose its ambassadors. This prestigious title the first gained violinist Stefan Milenković former “wunderkind”, and now internationally recognized and famous for his exceptional performing arts. As a true representative of the elite culture he sent a strong message to the world that Novi Sad deserves to be European Capital of Culture! Ambassador of the project became a versatile young artist Minja Mikić. She was born in Novi Sad, lives and works in Rome, where she managed to achieve her own artistic expression and technique. In addition to the permanent exhibitions in the “Eternal City” Minja regularly exposes in Zurich and New York. Photographer Aleksandar Milutinović was also elected Ambassador of the project Novi Sad European Capital of Culture. Aleksandar Milutinović was proposed by the citizens of Novi Sad who recognized his original approach to the presentation of our city.
The news that Novi Sad was declared European Capital of Culture 2021, during the afternoon of October 13th “swept” all domestic and European media. The news was among the first published by the official website of the European Commission, followed by numerous Italian, Austrian, German, Greek, Romanian, and media from Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Slovenia and Montenegro. Congratulations came from around the world, among which were certainly most important those from the cities that were previously designated as European Capitals of Culture.
For the first time in Novi Sad and the region the festival celebration of New Year was organized. The four-day program, called 2New!, was held at four city locations, with more than 100 performers, and over 50,000 citizens from Novi Sad and their guests who enjoyed it.
At the end of December the Foundation Novi Sad 2021 – European Capital of Culture, which will implement the project, was formed. Director and the Steering Committee, constituted of five eminent experts with considerable national and international experience in various areas of importance for realization of the project were elected.
End of the year was marked by the decision of the Government of the Republic of Serbia that project Novi Sad 2021- European Capital of Culture is a project of national importance and interest.
One of the biggest infrastructure projects that are directly related to the European Capital of Culture – Construction of Music and Ballet School with the city Concert Hall in Liman 3, which bears the name of New Novi Sad artistic center, started last year.
Results of the poll conducted by the agency Ninamedia showed that the citizens of Novi Sad are pleased with the number and variety of cultural events in the city. The average score given to cultural program, on a scale from 1 to 5, is 3.7.
Although the year in which we merely “stepped” the Chairman of the Panel of independent experts delegated by the European Commission, Mr. Steve Green, calls “Year Zero”, a number of activities of the Foundation were done. Formation of the team, organizational structure, making financial plan are in the process. We also plan to start a sort of “pilot” programs in order to raise our capacity and “prepare” the audience and fellow citizens for the successful implementation of demanding and complex project such as the European Capital of Culture.