Head of Trnava culture: The preparation of the project sometimes seemed like punk to me. But it was the influence of a genius!

He sees culture into its core. For several months now, Peter Cagala has been at the epicenter of the largest cultural project in Trnava. How does he see our city's chances of the title of European Capital of Culture 2026 evaluate? What has the project already gained?

The core of the team is formed by the representative of independent culture Michal Klembar and the head of culture of TTSK Peter Kadlic . Cagi, as Peter is nicknamed by friends, praises the cooperation. "We don't have the same view of everything, but it forces us to find a solution with which we can all identify and at the same time we all believe in the project. So it's about teamwork. "

Is Trnava missing something in terms of culture? We have many events here and we probably don't really need more. What can Trnava gain with the ECOC 2026 title?

During my time at the Túlavé divadlo theatre, I had the opportunity to compare Trnava with other Slovak cities. In each city, the game was played differently on the street. Trnava citizen was as, a spectator, very shy. The actor needs the spectator's reaction, but the street in Trnava was inhospitable from my point of view.

Today, people in Trnava perceive a new quality of life in the city. They are aware of the public space where they meet other people and informally also with culture. As a result, we are increasingly finding that we need culture to live and that the city as such has a much broader function.


So what do we miss here?

We still lack the basic ability to behave respectfully towards each other and also towards nature. Because culture is not just about events.

Art can bring us closer to this, because it has the ability to transform us. We need to emphasize the key role of culture in the development of the city. Trnava lacks a space at least three times larger than the Courtyard, where culture can take place and experience, a space where we educate the viewer, who not only asks for an offer, but also asks how he can get involved and participate.

We lack sufficient capacity for children interested in art education. And so far we have lacked a strategy to outline what we want to achieve and how we want to get there.

Thanks to ECOC 2026 we can get answers to many questions, e.g. How can the problem of culture in Trnava be solved, or what is the vision of the city in ten years?

Do we have a real chance to become the European Capital of Culture 2026? Trnava also ran 13 years ago, when Košice won with the Interface project. Are we more prepared today?

I was not present when the application was prepared in 2007. I have been working for the city since 2009 and I am glad that it came out like this. All registered Slovak cities have a chance to obtain the ECOC 2026 title.

I think Trnava has matured for the candidacy, and so have we. The city management supports and complements the project with its activities, the Trnava region and its cultural institutions have undergone the necessary generational exchange, and this is equally important for the project. There is also an independent culture in the form of Little Berlin. Excellent conditions have been created for the cooperation of all creators in Trnava, so why not use it?

What have you learned since the announcement of Trnava's candidacy - both personally and as the head of culture?

At the beginning, I was not very enthusiastic about the project, but I realized that the moment had come and It will be repeated in 13 years, and it would be a shame not to find out what potential Trnava has. I learned to "let go" of the events in which I stood or grew in my heart, and to leave them to my young colleagues, who will move them further with their contribution.

131063959_1107981876318164_1256785322478265132_n.jpg Photo after the successfull festival Jazzyk 2020. Preparatory team and Dan Bárta. (from left:Jurgi, Johny, Cagi, Dan a Matej)

What didn't you like at first?

The ECOC project as such was, from the beginning, a very abstract and that its content very slowly materialized into concrete ideas. Making an event brings immediate pleasure when I see how it affects the overall atmosphere of the city and how the residents react. But I believe that even this big project will be a mega positive benefit for our city as a result.

In addition, I met new creative people again and realized the strong potential of our city, because without the input of all the passionate people we discussed with us for hours, we would not have reached the point where we are now.

And at what point are you now?

We have completed the bidbook, which is our candidate project. I read the entire 60-page text repeatedly to absorb the material comprehensively as a whole. Imagine that for 11 years you have been more or less successfully in organizing events in the spirit of the motto: “Trnava's cultural strategy is that we do not have a strategy and suddenly you have the biggest cultural project in Europe, which you will not implement without a good strategy.

Did the team manage to work in a new spirit?

The creative process was very much alive and many people entered it. We didn't know where it would take us. The process was exceptional and special also thanks to Mattijs (note: Dutch external consultant) , who was independently recommended to us by two people. Mattijs is, in my opinion, a brilliant person. He helped to gradually crystallize the process of creating the project of what is or could be the real essence of our city.

And in fact, until the very end, Mattijs kept us in creative tension. It changed a lot during the process, sometimes I felt from the process that "uh, so this is already punk!" ... until we managed to successfully distill the narrative of our project. The most difficult thing was to find a topic that is closely related to Trnava, is authentic, honest and at the same time has a European dimension.

I am pleased that on Tuesday, December 8, the council unanimously approved the historically first cultural strategy of Trnava.


So that I don't forget, we completed another digital city game Elf´s spell * (note: [skriatkovia.trnava.sk] (http: //)), in the preparation of which we involved the Trnava creative industry. But thanks to my colleagues and the team we have created around the game, I was no longer involved in this process. I'm sorry, but the bidbook wouldn't finish by itself.

So the text of the bidbook is already in the world with that essence?

Yeah. The text is done, the narrative is done. Chapter 0 is the most important where the essence is mentioned. Everything depends on chapter 0.

And that essence is…?

Unfortunately, I can't reveal that at this point yet, but we worked on it in an interesting way, and the local Franciscan priest, brother Filip, also helped us. At first glance, a marginal meeting with him moved things forward.

At what stage is the candidacy project at this moment?

We handed over the bidbook to the press on Tuesday so that we could submit it by December 15th. And I'm excited about the graphic design that Jano Baláž and his team gave to the bidbook.

Will the bidbook be public?

Well, it wasn't written for the public or for journalists. We created it exclusively for a 12-member jury, which is composed of two Slovaks, the others are experts from Europe. One of the Slovaks is the director of the Art Support Fund Jozef Kovalčik and the other is Ján Sudzina, who managed the Košice ECOC 2013 project.

However, the Ministry of Culture of the Slovak Republic requested the bidbook in electronic form, so it is likely that they will hang it somewhere. In the original, English version, because we did not write the bidbook in Slovak.

Who did the proofreading?

A native speaker living in Prague who uses Brussels English and who has already received several bidbooks.

What is the difference between an ECOC bidbook and a cultural strategy? How do these projects overlap?

Each of these projects should work independently. But at the same time they must be connected. The ECOC project fulfills the objectives set by the strategy. The creation of a strategy was also a condition for the candidacy for the ECOC. They overlap in themes and visions, they want to fulfill the same goals.

Does Trnava have a trump card in the ECOC competition compared to competing candidates?

Yes. Above all, we were able to bring together representatives of the three institutions for a common cause. Without the ECOC, we would probably never have achieved such close cooperation.


Is Trnava exceptional?

Yeah. I do not believe that in other cities, representatives of the self-governing region, the city and independent culture work so closely together. I think we are unique in this.

Another thing is that the city of Trnava fully supports the project in all aspects and creates great conditions.

And finally, the topic that came up in the process of creation is very authentic. And strong. When we can communicate it through art and culture, it will have real impact and significant benefits.

Which factors in the bidbook have the most weight in front of the jury?

The most important thing is that the project has a European framework and a European quality and level. Not only the program we will produce, but also themes, activities, transport infrastructure, accommodation options and the like.

The jury will also be interested in how we solve our problem in Trnava through culture - and whether this method will be applicable to other European cities with 50 to 100,000 inhabitants. Can these cities similarly apply any of our programs to solve their problems? Here too, the emphasis is on Europeanness.

Is the sustainability of the project after 2026 important?

Many cities have a big problem with this, they can't keep up. However, we want to bring what can really help Trnava and what is feasible.

What problems will culture help solve in our city?

There are more of them, but they are not so convex,so that they can be easily defined. Maybe they will do so a few years later. One of them is the relatively weak involvement of the almost 15,000 people community of university students. Their potential is not yet felt enough in the city. Social isolation, weak involvement and cooperation of communities across the entire spectrum of the population are also a problem.

Furthermore, the outflow of studied people abroad or to Bratislava is problematic. There are less suitable job opportunities for university students, so I guess in addition to engineers. These people have increased demands on the quality of life and Trnava can meet them to a large extent. However, when they have to go to work, they do not have enough space to enjoy the benefits of our city. This would help to solve the development of the creative industry in Trnava. The potential is strong here.

The biggest challenges are support and space. The first milestone is the approval of the creation of a creative center in the building on Hlavná 17. And this can be followed up.


Did the experts also help you identify the pitfalls or shortcomings that Trnava must overcome on the way to the title?

Here the views differ. One consultant will tell you that you need to create a section of culture in the city, and another who has crossed all European cities will tell you that no, this approach is outdated. That you have to do something like a company that will have partners, including representatives of the city, the county and the like. The company will realize cultural things, it should not be an office. Employees should walk among the people, live with the city's residents, not sit in the office.

Or such a principle: We will say we want to buy a building for cultural purposes. So he'll tell you, OK, but we won't reconstruct it right away. First, let's open the building and let people use it. Let's give it a year and then we'll see what works there and how. And only on that basis, can we realize the reconstruction. Fulfilling the motto "People first" is a real challenge.

But that will require a radical change in thinking, right?

What I could not imagine at all at the beginning of the process, at the end I perceive completely differently. It's about a change of perspective. All you have to do is get out of that crowded space for a while, see how it works outside, listen to someone outside - and then you can look at the thing with different eyes. I would never have come up with such a view myself. That is why we connect with the best.

If we didn't win the title, wouldn't it be a waste of time?

What is wasted time? That we have brought together several creators thanks to this project? That we understood the needs of cultural actors in Trnava? That we are dealing with how culture in Trnava can play a strategic role in the development of the city? In addition to all this, we have prepared a new cultural strategy of the city. Even if we do not win the title, the energy we have devoted to the preparation of the project will not be wasted.

Peter Bestvina




Presentation done! Thank you

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