Read short interview with Stanislava Tasheva, Projects and Programs Manager of Plovdiv 2019 European Capital of Culture, which is from March 13 to 15 stayed in Rijeka as part of preparatory meetings for the elaboration of the “Lab for European Project Making”, in which, along with the representatives of Rijeka 2020, participated representatives of future European Capitals of culture: Matera 2019, Plovdiv 2019, Novi Sad 2021, Timisoara 2021 and Eleusis 2021.

How are the preparations for your ECoC programme going?

The programme is very interesting and diverse, though it is still subject to revision from the initial bid book stage. That is why we decided to make this through an open call that ended in December 2016, and we made two types of open calls. The first open call was about the bid book projects and the other was for new ideas that will contribute to the existing ones, to create new ideas for the programme and to update it. Now we’re in the phase of reviewing all these applications. There were more than two hundred forty applications, and the jury is going through the selection process, so we hope that by the end of March we will have all the preliminary projects that are going to be part of implementation phase of ECoC Plovdiv 2019.

What would you consider to be the strongest advantage of your programme?

Our programme is well connected with the city itself. Plovdiv has a lot of history underneath. This is one of the oldest cities in the world, it is more than 6 thousand years old and it has several layers of history that reveal its specific features. I believe that the strongest part of this programme that we have put together is its motto – TOGETHER – since we have different cultures that are living together, different ethnicities, different languages, different types of cuisine. I believe this to be the strongest point in our programme – being together and to share common values.

And the weakest point?

The weakest is definitely time. Time is running against us, and even if we think 2019 is very far away, it is not in terms of organizational and logistic matters. We believe that it is time to structure all the specifics of the program, and we hope that we will be able to efficiently use the time that we have left and execute all the implementation phases. One of the weakest points at this moment are the infrastructural developments, since we have a real need related to some specific projects.

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

We will be happy to collaborate with Rijeka on many levels because we see that there are a lot of common points in our programmes. As for other ECoCs, we have already been doing meetings and we are planning to host the family meeting in 2018, which would represent a collaborative meeting of all European Capitals of Culture.  In terms of common points, we will try to make use of the specifics of togetherness of all European Capitals of Culture, and to co-organize some specific festivals or events under the umbrella of the same motto.