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Richard rasi : "Reshaping a city through culture"

Košice in Slovakia will be, with Marseille, European capital of Cutlure 2013. While the 2012 edition will take place in Avignon on 15th, 16th and 17th of Novemebre, the Forum d'Avignon interviewed its Mayor, Richard Rasi, around the question "How does Culture give you a reason to hope?"

How does Culture / creative imagination give you a reason to hope?

The Forum d’Avignon

The Forum d’Avignon aims at strengthening the links between culture and the economy, suggesting subjects for reflection at global, European and local levels. The Forum d’Avignon was created after the ratification of the UNESCO convention on cultural diversity, and since its beginning, has been backed by the French Ministry of Culture and Communication. Each year the Forum organizes, with its partners, international meetings which provide opportunities for unique discussions and exchanges between actors from the worlds of culture, the creative industries, the economy and the media.

Each year the Forumd’Avignon publishes new studies highlighting the essential links between culture and the economy, on themes suggested by its Advisory Board. 2012 edition will focus on “Culture: reasons ton hope. Imagining and passing on”

Find out more

Richard Rasi: It is very important to see how much culture, creativity and art contribute to the life of the city. Not only high profile cultural events but also small initiatives shape the city and its way of development for the future. I really do think that we need to take culture and creative imagination in to the centre of our lives and society. Recent development in Košice makes me sure that we are on the best way of cultural led transformations of the city. Lots of new events where different cultural disciplines meet together appeared over the last years and they naturally become part of our cultural profile.

Our city has traditional industrial character since many years but in the last periods it started changing its profile, repositioning itself as a talent friendly city which is supporting creativity and would like to demonstrate its innovative potential. Since Košice has been selected to be the 2013 European Capital of Culture, we take culture and creative industries as the main drivers for this transformation.

Stimulation of culture and creativity and its contribution to other parts of the economy is one of the main objectives of the ECOC - Košice 2013 project. We have prepared a range of events and projects that are focused on this phenomenon. Using examples and building the transnational learning platforms could create a room for discussion, cooperation and exchange on European level. This could than serve as the platform for developing innovations and new excellent projects in the field of regional and economic development.
This brings a lot of reasons to hope that we have chosen the best way of how to improve and leverage the potential hidden in our citizens and we could than provide them best environment for their talent, skills and competitiveness.

Who embodies it the best?

Richard Rasi: For me one of the best examples is our community development project Spots, which brings forward the importance of the field work with the citizens and direct contact in the everyday life. I see a growing number of people engaged in project activities and different programs developed ’ bottom up’. In this project, culture is enabling communication at the neighbourhoods’ level, which is very natural and important for the city. Its success could be easily scaled up and also could help us create a better and more democratic civic society.

I admire that the numbers of independent initiatives started to operate and contribute to the every day cultural life. We see various programs for different target audiences popping up and people enjoy the vibrant atmosphere of the city.

Another example is the very unique situation with the Faculty of arts established at the Technical University of Košice, which brought new dimension to traditional conception of technical educational institution. Its students represent the major creative power in many projects and events happening in the city. The cooperation between different faculties could bring artists together with talented technicians and engineers, which could than end up in new innovative results, projects and products. This has a big potential also in R&D and improving the competitiveness of Košice.

With more than sixteen thousand students, the Technical University of Košice is a major educational institution in the city and region and with its nine faculties, it represents a strong creative and innovative potential in the field of education, research and development. Together with two other universities, the University of Nature Science and university of veterinary medicine. It is a very important element of the cultural spectrum.

What would be the personal initiative / project / work that embodies your reason for hope?

Richard Rasi: For me, personally, the project or initiative that embodies best my reasons to hope would be Košice 2013, NGO which has been established to implement the European Capital of Culture 2013 project and is the flag ship initiative of the city. It operates in the field of culture, strategic developments and international relations on the large scale and best represents the city’s approach to the culture and creativity.

It has been created to prepare a fertile environment for all cultural operators and talented people. It also represents the biggest cultural project in Slovakia which makes me really proud of my city.

The everyday work of Košice 2013, aims at preparing the infrastructure, networks and educational programs to improve all levels of the creative ecology needed for better performance of the city. NGO would like to use the momentum of the ECOC 2013 transformative power and visibility on european level to help our city and region develop sustainable creative and innovation base driven by digital developments. This will help us to build new economic, social and cultural structures to foster a competitive and thriving creative environment.
“We support creativity” has become a motto of all activities of Košice 2013, NGO and also of many projects which are together creating the program for the years 2012 and 2013.

How would you like to pass it on to future generations?

Richard Rasi: Our hope is always in our children and young generation. Therefore we are strongly focused on our cultural programs on educational activities and projects engaging children and youngsters.

So we fully engage them into cultural and creative development processes. Also in our biggest investment project, which is transformation of former military warehouses in to the centre for culture and creativity Kasarne/KulturPark we prepared together with our strongest corporate partner US Steel project Creative Factory. This project brings together education, contemporary technologies and artistic expression of industrial processes so children can better decide for their further education and career.

All projects within the framework of European Capital of Culture are prepared with a strong focus on sustainability. We are preparing different programs and tools to ensure that culture and creativity will be the essential part of our future. New infrastructure built in the project framework will help us to shape our cultural life for many years. So our hope is that our citizens will enjoy the new functions and forms of cultural venues in the city which remain as tangible evidences of the biggest cultural transformation of the city in Slovakia.

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