The Slovenia Times

New Slovenian cultural hubs open in Klagenfurt and Trieste

Slovenian President Nataša Pirc Musar meets Slovenian youth at the National Hall in St John's borough in Trieste. Photo: Boštjan Podlogar/STA

The Slovenian communities in Austria and Italy acquired two important new venues on 11 October that will help them foster their culture and enhance relationship with the majority populations. A new Slovenian cultural centre was inaugurated in Klagenfurt, and a community centre in Trieste.

iKult new theatre venue

A new Slovenian intercultural centre and event venue, iKult, will be home to the only professional bilingual theatre in the region but also host social events, concerts and readings.

The venue is located on the premises of the Klagenfurt folk house (Ljudski Dom/Volkshause), where cultural creators of Carinthia's both ethnic communities have been meeting and working together for decades.

The Slovenian Cultural Association (SPZ) started managing and renovating the venue in summer, but work is not yet completely done, SPZ head Mitja Rovšek told the Slovenian Press Agency.

The investment has been financed using the minority funding the association receives from Slovenia and Austria. Rovšek regrets they did not receive any additional funds for the renovation.

"Slovenians have long been wanting for a space for cultural work in Klagenfurt; it was a unique opportunity that we grabbed with both hands," he told the minority's weekly Novice.

Spanning some 350 square metres, the centre will be used by the association's members and friends, and artists committed to solidarity-based relations between Austrians, and Slovenians in Carinthia.

The aim is to make iKult a cultural hub and a place where both umbrella cultural organisations of the Slovenian minority, the SPZ and the Christian Cultural Association (KKZ), work together.

Accommodating up to 120 spectators, the centre will be primarily dedicated to theatre, but it will also host other events.

Home of Teater Rampa, the only professional bilingual theatre in Carinthia, the centre will start staging performances on 14 October. The programme is available here.

Minority gets back community centre in Trieste

After more than a century, the Slovenian community in Trieste will be able to use again the National Hall at St John's. After undergoing renovation, the community centre was inaugurated with a high-profile ceremony featuring Slovenian and Italian officials.

Addressing the ceremony, Slovenian President Nataša Pirc Musar said she hoped the venue would become a hub for young people to meet and socialise, and a meeting point for Italians and Slovenians from Trieste as well as for Slovenians from Italy and Slovenia.

The president expressed gratitude to the Friuli Venezia Giulia region and the municipality of Trieste for financing the renovation.

She praised President of Friuli Venezia Giulia Massimiliano Fedriga and Trieste Mayor Roberto Dipiazza for their contribution to the reconciliation between Slovenians and Italians.

Fedriga stressed that linguistic diversity was the essence of the region. He said relationships were built by making plans for the future together not dealing with the past.

Dipiazza hailed the relations between the majority and minority communities in the city. He pointed to the meeting of the Slovenian and Italian presidents, Borut Pahor and Sergio Mattarella, in 2020, assessing that the dramatic 20th centuries had been buried then.

St John's, an area overlooking Trieste's city centre, is already home to several Slovenian schools and associations. The land for the construction of the National Hall was bought in 1895 by 75 members of a Slovenian cooperative.

It was opened in 1903 but was destroyed by the Fascists in 1921. The Fascist Party owned it until the Second World War and the ownership was transferred to the municipality of Trieste after the war. Since it was not in use, the centre was very dilapidated.

With the 2001 minority protection law, Italy committed to handing it back to the Slovenian community and its minority organisations.

The efforts to renovate the building started 19 years ago, but the renovation did not start until January 2021. Valued at over €4 million, the project was fully funded by the regional government of Friuli Venezia Giulia.

Spanning 1,300 square metre, the renovated centre features a library and a reading room, a study room, a room for didactic activities, a conference room, exhibition space, research centre and the seats of two cultural associations of the Slovenian community.

The community centre will be operated by the National and Study Library of Trieste and the Slovenian Research Institute (SLORI).


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