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Maribor – European Capital of Culture 2012

Maribor - Slovenia

Maribor - Slovenia

Have you ever been to Maribor? Don’t worry, you will soon want to. In 2012, Maribor will be the European Capital of Culture.

In 2012, the Slovenian city of Maribor – which is home to the oldest vine in the world – is proud to play host to a year of outstanding and exciting cultural performances to which all of Europe is invited. Maribor’s European Capital of Culture 2012 status will not only bring in big names but will draw from its rich local resources to produce and announce new artists to the wider world for 2013 and beyond.

Mitja Čander, programme director of Maribor 2012: “For us, the European Capital of Culture is not just a title to be used as a handy marketing slogan. The global economic crisis has hit the arts sphere hard in many countries with reduced subsidies and falling ticket sales. Maribor 2012 aims to buck this trend by building a city’s prosperity around its creativity. We concern ourselves not only with what will happen in 2012 but are also what we want Maribor to be 2013, 2014, 2023 and beyond. The city will be further developed into an open and social environment which draws its citizens together through initiatives. This is a challenge for Maribor, but one that faces many other regional towns and cities throughout Slovenia and, indeed throughout Europe at this difficult time for us all.

Our ultimate target for Maribor’s year as the European Capital of Culture will be to use the existing rich cultural life in the town as a springboard to transforming it into an authentic European city and region of the arts; attracting tourists and aspirational young people looking to join an artistic community in the heart of the continent.

Maribor will share the ECOC 2012 title with its Slovenian partner towns Murska Sobota, Novo Mesto, Ptuj, Slovenj Gradec and Velenje. Altogether, the ECOC will extend to cover more than half of the total area of Slovenia. In 2012, this unique region between Austria, Italy and Hungary which has had a history to rival any part of Europe since Roman times will once again become an international crossroad.

Maribor is thoroughly preparing for the ECOC. More than 400 architecture organisations from all over the world participated in the International Architectural Competition “River Drava 2012”, which combined three central projects for the revitalising regeneration of the river embankment in the city. This area around the river will be one of the principal settings of the European Capital of Culture and a key element to the town’s development in the next 20 years. As a result of the competition, the new art gallery will be designed by a Hungarian firm, the river bank between the Water Tower and the Judgement Tower by one from Italy and the new footbridge across the river Drava by Spanish architects. Europe truly is coming to the heart of Maribor!

With the generous support of the European Regional Development Fund, Maribor has already renovated a historic 13th century building in the city centre which will play host to the headquarters of the European Capital of Culture. Also new is the Maribor Puppet Theatre – located in a former Minorite monastery the theatre is arguably the most beautiful of its type in Europe. Shortly the former monastery’s church will be transformed into a music venue and by 2012, all the city centre’s main squares will have been redeveloped to accommodate and welcome our visitors. The smallest of these, Rotovž Square, will become the new central library. Through realising the vision of world-renowned theatre director Tomaž Pandur, whose artistic endeavours span from Madrid and Berlin to his hometown of Maribor, the city will gain a new Centre of Performing Arts Maribor (CPAM) on the right bank of the Drava River. Offering excellent views across Maribor, CPAM will undoubtedly provide many cultural highlights and become a key visitor attraction during our European Capital of Culture year.

All of this makes the ECOC the biggest cultural project in the history of Slovenia – a country which, coincidentally but perhaps appropriately, will celebrate its 21st birthday as an independent nation in 2012 does so with the opportunity to come of age on the global stage.

The question is not therefore “Have you ever been to Maribor?” but rather “When do you arrive?”.

See you all in 2012….

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