The role of the city curator, a new position at the City Hall in Trenčín, involves adjusting rules for advertising, caring for artworks, and the appearance of elements in public space. Omar Mirza took on the role of city curator at the beginning of October. He works in the Department of Urban Planning at the Trenčín City Hall. His first task is the manual for business signage.
Several Slovak cities are striving to care for their public spaces to make them more pleasant, uniform, less cluttered with advertisements and various markings. They are implementing rules for advertising placement, the appearance of streets, or the maintenance of elements in public spaces (such as surfaces, benches, markings, stands, etc.).
Despite this, the position of a city specialist for public space is exceptional in Slovakia, held only by the city of Trnava and, as of October 2023, Trenčín. The City of Trenčín established this position as part of systemic steps related to the title of European Capital of Culture (ECC) 2026.
"Last year, as part of the Transformed City project (which is part of ECC), we mapped the state of public spaces in Trenčín, analyzed problems, and proposed solutions. The strategy cooperated with Czech expert Veronika Rút Fullerová, who works with local governments in the Czech Republic," says Lívia Gažová, project manager for architecture and public space in the Trenčín 2026 team. She continues, "One of the recommendations was the creation of a position for a specialist in public space. His work is mainly to care for existing artworks, place new pieces in public space, combat visual pollution (i.e., cluttering space with advertisements and markings). But also to implement new strategic documents - such as the public space manual or the advertising manual. It specifies how advertising in the city can be placed so that it does not disturb us."
Experience and Communication Skills
Qualified candidates applied for the position of city curator. The commission selected Omar Mirza because he has extensive experience in curating, an overview of the topics and issues of public space. At the same time, his added value was communication skills, which will help him as a mediator in the public debate on how our city should look.
"I have a strong personal connection to Trenčín: besides the anecdotal digging of a well in the castle, I have a wife from Trenčín; we had our wedding here, both our children were born here. I feel at home here. I am aware of the challenges the public space in Trenčín faces - ultimately, as in any other Slovak city," says O. Mirza.
According to him, the position of a city curator is not only important in creating and enforcing rules and regulations. "As a city curator, I want to be a partner for various entities in the city. Highlight what is valuable and try to find ways to enhance it. I want to listen to the people in Trenčín and bring them suggestions on how to do things better and more beautifully," he explains.
Trenčín will have, in the person of the city curator, a guarantor of overall care for public space. Together with experts, employees of the city hall, he will strive to elevate public space in Trenčín to a higher level in the coming years.
Text: Mirka Gúčiková Photo: Júlia Gavačová