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Novi Sad 2022: Every part of the city tells a thought-through story

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Novi Sad is the local capital of the Serbian province Vojvodina, which is home to many nationalities, including Lower Land Slovaks along with Hungarians, Romanians, Rusyns and many more. On top of that, Novi Sad will become the European City of Culture 2022 with their project labelled “For new bridges”. Jovana Mitrović, the communaction manager of the Novi Sad 2022 team, told us more about their ECoC project and the city too.

Introduce yourself as a team member and your city in a few sentences.

My name is Jovana, and I was born and raised in Novi Sad. I have known multicultural surroundings since forever. Starting from my family, which is of different origins, to my neighbours, school friends and teachers, it was quite a privilege being raised here since tolerance became our second nature. Novi Sad is not a huge city, but every foreign friend I had visiting me here always said that, somehow, it has a strong spirit. I would say it has become recognizable for its cultural events and vibrancy, making it especially interesting for young people. What I am trying to achieve with being a part of the Novi Sad – ECoC, is developing its cultural values, making them more recognizable and bringing them closer to all Europeans.

What is the main idea of your ECoC project?

Our programme narrative arises from the slogan ‘For New Bridges’, which represents the idea of building new bridges of cooperation not only with the European cultural scene, but also with Japan, which we are especially proud of. The focus on the ‘European’, which derives from the title, has been shifted and broadened since art has no boundaries. Just as we built real, beautiful, new bridges in our own city, we intend on doing the same when it comes to building close cultural ties with the rest of the continent and the world, so that we can have something lasting and valuable connecting us.

What is the biggest change that the ECoC title has brought to your city so far?

Thus far, I think it has brought more diversity to events, a platform for new emerging artists, stronger awareness of a small city brand, as well as raising capacity of the city’s developing places, programmes and cooperation processes between people, organisations and institutions. 

Novi Sad itself is like one big museum. Every place tells a story, and it looks as if it was so thoroughly thought out – as if every part, every corner of the city is right where it is supposed to be.

I had the privilege of not only meeting foreign artists and learning more about their work, but also working with different European Capitals of Culture and supporting their excellent work and visions.

What is your personal “heart project” of Novi Sad 2022?

My personal favourite project would have to be the project I am also a part of, called ‘Europe’s Women’s Remembrance – REWOMEN’. It is about strengthening women’s rights by increasing the visibility of the history of women in Europe through the development of international women’s solidarity. This topic is relevant and important for not only enlightening the past, but also paving the way for a bright future for women.

Novi Sad is the centre of Vojvodina, which is a home to many nationalities, including Slovak settlers, the so-called Lower Land Slovaks, who moved there in the 18th century. How is this diversity reflected in your ECoC project? 

Diversity was strongly portrayed in the ‘Novi Sad – European Capital of Culture’ project even before the title year. We have built a network of cultural stations oriented towards all ages and ethnic communities living in Novi Sad. Our main goal was promoting cultural heritage of ethnic communities, art and amateur creatorship. ‘Doček’, one of our programme arches and main brands, was based on an interpretation of Novi Sad’s intercultural identity, celebrating two dates, 31 December and 13 January, through the art and culture of two calendars, two time measurements and two alphabets.

In addition to this, many programmes in 2022 will be oriented towards presenting and reinterpreting cultural heritage of different national identities in Vojvodina. 

What is special about Novi Sad among Serbian cities, except for the aforementioned multiethnic background?

In my opinion, what makes our city special are the people and the storytelling. Not only are our citizens knowledgeable about the city’s history, but Novi Sad itself is like one big museum. Every place tells a story, and it looks as if it was so thoroughly thought out – as if every part, every corner of the city is right where it is supposed to be. Throughout our country and region, Novi Sad is informally known and recognized as a cultural centre of Serbia. 

Describe the people of Novi Sad in 3 words.

Erudite, respectful and broad-minded.