During last several months, ‘Novi Sad 2021’ Foundation has successfully taken on the role of a mediator between expert and wide public in the process of revitalisation of the so-called Chinese Quarter. Preservation of industrial heritage and transformation of this space into the Youth Creative Polis is one of the most important projects of European Capital of Culture. In addition to the four bridges mentioned in the bid-book, the ‘Novi Sad 2021’ Foundation has built one other, communication bridge, and established the culture of dialogue as a way to make important decisions for the city. This bridge will remain a crucial legacy to the city.
According to Miloš Vučević, Mayor of Novi Sad, decisions on transformation of the so-called Chinese Quarter into the Youth Creative Polis were made in the spirit of democracy and transparency, taking into consideration opinions of the citizens. The ‘Novi Sad 2021’ Foundation, in a role of a mediator, has initiated several phases that preceded the joint conclusions. In the first phase of the research process, we conducted mapping, i.e. individual interviews between the current tenants and the Work Group for Infrastructure and Capital Investments, established by Mr Vućević, the Mayor, in order to implement infrastructure projects from the bid-book of the European Capital of Culture project. After that, the ‘Novi Sad 2021’ Foundation conducted a research through an online form, where citizens gave their proposals for further development of the Youth Creative Polis, while Ninamedia conducted survey among the citizens. The results of the research were presented on the first of three Divans, held on 22 August in ‘Fabrika’ Student Cultural Centre. The second phase included three Divans – open discussions that were streamed live via Facebook page of the Foundation, as well as four Cultural Forums.
After taking into consideration opinions of expert and wide public, the adopted decisions have been defined through five points for future development of the Youth Creative Polis:
- Plan of Detailed Regulation preserves the architectural and industrial heritage of ‘Petar Drapšin’ former industrial complex;
- There was a consensus of all relevant cultural and economic stakeholders, citizens and expert public to initiate the implementation and development of the Youth Creative Polis;
- The Youth Creative Polis will host all activities defined in the Action Plan for implementation of cultural and creative industries, as well as all services, including service crafts, which are not defined by this plan, but which contribute to and participate in cultural-artistic and creative production. This excludes the possibility that the space of the so-called Chinese Quarter to be used for residential zone, shopping centre, or for sports-recreational or storage purposes;
- Council for development of the Youth Creative Polis (YCP) will be formed, and it will help the Working Group for Infrastructure and Capital Investments to further define precise criteria, obligations and responsibilities of all future stakeholders in youth-creative district, as well as models for their economic sustainability. The Council for development of the YCP will comprise: Representatives of competent city administrations and Working Group for Capital Investments and Infrastructure, representatives of craftsmen and cultural-artistic and creative production who perform their activities in this quarter, as well as representatives of OPENS and ‘Novi Sad 2021’ Foundation;
- On the initiative of the ‘Novi Sad 2021’ Foundation, an expert team will be formed to be at the disposal of the Council for development of YCP and Working Group for Infrastructure and Capital Investments for further formulation of criteria, sustainability and development, and based on its experience and world renowned theory and practice. The Team will comprise renowned foreign and local experts from the field of revitalisation and transformation of industrial heritage, architecture, visual art and design, tourism, participation and international cooperation, of which some collaborate with Harvard and Columbia Universities, as well as with ECoC projects of other European cities.
As stated in the communication of the Mayor, the culture of dialogue is a victory for further development of ‘Petar Drapšin’ complex, as well as the city, which will develop to suit its citizens.