Director of Trenčín 2026, Lucia Dubačová, reflects on the first year of the preparatory phase of the European Capital of Culture.
Trenčín has been the European Capital of Culture 2026 for a year now, and it is supposed to be a carrier of curiosity and courage for sustainable change. A great opportunity that will not be repeated in Slovakia for the next 13 years. However, it is still a new project for the country, which does not have a long history or the right legal conditions in place.
Our year was marked by collaborations. We are working with the highest state institutions to ensure that Trenčín 2026 is not only possible, but that the state standards governing activities in the culture and creative industries reflect the reality of the genres, forms and values of this key sector for the future. We have found examples of good practice in many of the European Capitals of Culture, with whom we work closely.
Building the foundations
In 2022, we were starting from scratch and creating a functioning organisation to cover the Trenčín 2026 project was the most important thing. The candidacy was successful thanks to a dedicated and hardworking team and the same goes for the implementation. It is important to us that a high quality, professional and diverse team is created, which will be intrinsically motivated.
The City of Trenčín and the Trenčín Self-Governing Region established the organisation, followed by a year-long recruitment of people, the creation of a contractual and administrative system, financial management, internal rules and functioning, and technical support. Because we handle public money, we are subject to strict legal rules, which entail both responsibility and time-consuming - for example, in connection with the procurement of goods and services.
In addition, we do a lot of education. We took part in the Escalator course from CIKE in Košice, we have attended a number of trainings related to financial management and public resource management, individual team members attend courses and lectures necessary for their area of work.
The key is that we have managed to start the Meetings with the cultural community of the Trenčín region. We are very grateful for the feedback, thanks to which we managed to set up a format that will enrich the participants. I am glad that we can attract people from the region to the meetings and get to know each other.
Without cooperation with ministries, we cannot fulfil the potential that the European Capital of Culture holds. Therefore, at the national level, I see it as the most important to start cooperation with representatives of ministries and institutions at the Trenčín 2026 Symposium.
It is very important for the international dimension of the Trenčín 2026 project that we have become members of the international networks Culture Action Europe and CultureNext. When Russia launched its invasion, our role was to show solidarity with Ukraine with a benefit concert, and in the spring we celebrated Europe Day together, which reminds us of the importance of democracy. We have represented Trenčín 2026 at many international events, from the Spanish Pontevedra at the Placemaking Europe conference, to the Hungarian Veszprém - next year's ECoC, to Kaunas, Lithuania and their Fluxus festival.
We know that skilled and experienced people are what can stay with us beyond 2026. That's why the Trenčín 2026 project places great emphasis on education and development. Already this year we have launched two Runway courses - for professionals and women in culture and English for Culture and Tourism. There has been great interest in both of them and people from all over the region are being trained in them. We will be repeating the courses in 2023, while also launching more.
In the summer, Garage, an alternative cultural space wandering around Trenčín, experienced a wave of positive response. Garage is also an educational project for the new generation that wants to gain experience in organizing cultural events. Yasmine Cabanová and Marek Niejadlík, who organised the events at Garage in the Park, received not only financial and technical support, but also know-how and mentoring. In 2023 the Garage will have a continuation, we are curious to see what kind of location it will revive this time.
A crucial step on our way will be the conclusion of a contract with the Ministry of Culture, which will provide us with crucial funding to begin implementing programs in partnership with organizations in the Bid Book. We are also working on creating a marketing strategy so that we know how to communicate the message that Trenčín is a city to visit in the best, most effective and most efficient way.
Thank you for your cooperation and support!