The Slovenia Times

Maribor Taking over as European Youth Capital


For a year until it hands over the title to Thessaloniki in Greece, Maribor will focus on encouraging the implementation of new ideas and innovative projects promoting the youth's active participation in society.

Before Braga, the European Youth Forum awarded the title Rotterdam in 2009, Turin in 2010 and Antwerp in 2011.

Although the project is not as big and financially demanding as the European Capital of Culture, the EYC will need to be adjusted to the economic and political situation in the city.

No extravagant official opening ceremony is planned, but a smaller launch is being organised for January to invite young people to join in the events that will be held in Maribor throughout the year.

A four-day international event dubbed Youth Pushing Borders will start on Friday to count down to the official beginning of the EYC 2013.

The programme will include sport, artistic and entertainment activities to encourage young people to participate in cultural events and in the events promoting mobility and intercultural dialogue.

The New Year's Eve programme will feature four countdowns as a tribute to local times of the participants.

Head of the EYC office Sara Sorger says that the programme of events is still being prepared but that it will include 52 projects selected in calls to be co-funded by the municipality.

These will make part of main programme sections such as employment, housing, inter-cultural dialogue, cultural creativity and volunteering.

"We'd like to highlight volunteering in particular not just as unpaid work but as volunteers' sharing their experience and skills with the projects while we try to make their ambitions and ideas come true," Sorger says.

The highlights include international conferences that will be open to a broader public, according to Sorger, who expects as many events as possible in the annual Lent Festival in the summer to be adjusted to the EYC.

The organizers have not faced any financial difficulties so far, having received the planned EUR 300,000 designed for calls for project applications for this year.

The whole EYC budget amounts to EUR 1.5m, so the organisers hope to get at least the EUR 1.2m more pledged by the municipality next year.

Sorger is hopeful the city authorities will remain committed to the project despite uncertainty surrounding the adoption of the budget for next year after Mayor Franc Kangler was forced to offer his resignation under pressure of public protests that have also been calling for the dissolution of the city council.

Over a hundred youth organisations, institutions and companies concerned with youth issues are currently involved in the ECY project. The EYC office will also promote the project elsewhere in the country.


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