Nova Gorica – The European Capitals of Culture Expert Panel has recommended the Slovenian border city of Nova Gorica to be the European Capital of Culture 2025 along with Germany’s Chemnitz. Nova Gorica has been bidding for the title together with Gorizia on the Italian side of the border with the slogan Go! Borderless.
Announcing the decision, Cristina Farinha, the panel’s chairperson, noted how the Covid-19 pandemic showed the importance of culture in people’s lives, in particular during the lockdown.
However, she also noted that the culture sector has been one of the hardest hit in the crisis, offering the European Capital of Culture as a major opportunity to stimulate the sector.
Farinha said all four shortlisted Slovenian bids (Nova Gorica competed with Ljubljana, Ptuj and Piran) addressed topical and relevant European topics such as solidarity, borders, climate change and transformations.
Nova Gorica expressed its gratitude for being recommended for the title, with the organizers pledging their readiness and commitment to meet all their promises.
They believe they have won because the bid has grown out of long-running lively cooperation between the two cities and within the cross-border region, and because the bid has had undivided political support from both cities, the Northern Primorska region and the Italian region of Friuli Venezia Giulia.
The cities’ residents and officials awaited the announcement enthusiastically in Europe Square connecting the two cities, which also hosted the main ceremony on Slovenia’s joining the EU in 2004.
Nova Gorica Mayor Klemen Miklavič welcomed the news by saying it gave the two cities “as a single urban area” and the “hub of the cross-border region” an “opportunity to become an important spot in the EU”.
He said the culture capital status would be an opportunity not only for cultural creativity and urbanistic development of the two cities but would also boost business, tourism and jobs.
“I dedicate this victory to the people of this unique territory who suffered so much but succeeded in creating a better future for the young,” Gorizia Mayor Rodolfo Ziberna said.
He expects the title would allow them to attract new human and financial resources for economic development and jobs with the help of cultural, urbanistic and business initiatives.
Nova Gorica is planning more than 600 cultural events and more than 60 projects for 2025 bringing together over 250 partners from Slovenia and 34 other countries.
Congratulating the city, Slovenian Culture Minister Vasko Simoniti said he was very happy about the pick, being that it is a joint bid by the two cities.
He noted that Nova Gorica was also in the spotlight when Slovenia joined the EU, describing the bid as a commitment on a symbolic level for Nova Gorica to find its place on Europe’s map together with Gorizia as a successful, culturally-aware city.
Maribor was Slovenia’s first city to host the European Capital of Culture, in 2012.
Culture Ministry State Secretary Ignacija Fridl Jarc noted the Maribor 2012 European Capital of Culture evaluation report showed the events related to the title attracted almost 4.5 million visitors and viewers.
She said the experiences of past European Capitals of Culture showed the designation’s great potential and positive effects for the bidding cities, including those not chosen for the title.