During his brief stay in Rijeka, we spoke with Nemanja Milenkovic, general director of Novi Sad 2021. Novi Sad 2021 is one of the future Capital of Culture, which will, together with Rijeka 2020, participate in the project “Lab for European Project Making”.

How are the preparations for the Novi Sad 2021 programme going?

The preparations are going well. The most important thing for us is to build a solid foundation for our ?house? during 2017 – if the foundation is not as it should be, then the roof, windows and everything else won’t be good, either. The fact remains that we’re on a good path – we have established a foundation, and we’re preparing this lovely space in the heart of the city. This is a space that will be open to citizens, as we’re aiming at achieving an even higher level of participation than in our candidacy. We’re preparing participative and educational programmes, and we’re looking for people to fill the positions of art director, chief evaluator, communications director, PR manager, etc. We’re building everything step by step. It’s not easy, but I’ve instilled the following attitude in my team – every day does not bring new problems, only new victories!

What would you consider to be the greatest advantage of Novi Sad 2021? What about the greatest weaknesses?

We’ve divided the programme into ?Four New Bridges?, which represent a SWOT analysis of sorts. The strengths of the first bridge are cultural heritage and hospitality – these are the strengths of Novi Sad that we’re trying to connect. We’re also trying to put wind in the sails of the creative industry, which is still young, and here are also youth as a powerful resource since, as a university city, we have about 50-60 thousand students. We also have two bridges comprising dangers and weaknesses. The weaknesses stem from cultural development strategies, i.e. these are cultural capacities and public spaces. Here is also what seems to be a threat to this area in its entirety, which is a re-examination of Europe itself, with migrations that influence conflict, i.e. mediation and similar. This is what we wished to highlight with these four bridges.

How do you see cooperation with other ECOC cities, Rijeka included?

Every new experience with former and future capitals is of inestimable value, as such experiences make the path ahead of us much simpler and easier to navigate.