An institution with a long tradition in this region, which has experienced various changes throughout its decades of existence, yet preserving its basic idea of the establishment and preservation of French-Serbian partnerships, became part of the District last year by acquiring a new space.
With an innovative and contemporary dimension, in the service of young people, the French Institute in Serbia – a branch in Novi Sad from the very centre of the city, is moving to a new space in the District, contributing to the idea of establishing a new centre of creative industries in Novi Sad.
In less than a year, the French Institute has already implemented more than 30 activities in the new space. Exhibitions and concerts in and in front of the Institute, workshops and lectures, conferences, quizzes and other programmes are implemented independently or in cooperation with partners. Furthermore, from September 2022, the French language courses and preparation for taking the DELF exam will also take place in the new space.
A change of location is a challenge, but so is a new audience
Although the relocation itself represented a demanding and serious process of adapting the new space to the needs of the French Institute and an investment that lasted several months before the official opening in November 2022, the change brought positive changes in the work itself.
– The change of location has had a positive effect on our work, even though we are no longer in the city centre and we do not have the same visibility among the central-city audience. However, we noticed the arrival of a new audience from the surrounding neighbourhoods, from Liman, for example, to our events, as well as a larger number of passers-by during the year, who enter the space and visit our exhibitions and other programmes, even though the District itself has not yet fully come to life. The biggest change can be seen in the number of participants in the French language course, because we work in new, brighter and better equipped rooms.
Advantages of the District
Strategic position, renovated buildings, proximity to city attractions, Štrand and Liman Park, public transport and renovated access infrastructure (roads and parking lots) are the advantages of the District. Nearby are the University, dormitories, technological park, etc.
In their opinion, the District has a bright future, but it is necessary to activate the site throughout the year, and not periodically.
– The location itself is strategically very interesting, the position is ideal because it is located near the city beach, Liman Park, very close to student dormitories, faculties and technological park. It is necessary to synchronize the construction works in the District itself and bring them to an end so that the District will come to life in full capacity. The District has a future if events are implemented throughout the year, and not only occasionally during large cultural events.
This is precisely why the cooperation between the organizations located in the District is important, and they emphasize that the connection with the neighbours is excellent, which is also confirmed by the French Institute.
– Cooperation is excellent, several joint programmes have already been implemented since August 2022. Regular meetings of representatives of institutions living in the District are organized in order to discuss communal and other problems we face, as well as artistic plans, programme coordination and other forms of cooperation.
The French Institute continues with the implementation of regular French language courses; other contents are also planned
– From September, exhibitions and concerts are planned, in cooperation with our permanent partners from Novi Sad and the whole of Vojvodina. We also follow major cultural events in France and inform our audience about them. We will continue with screenings of French films in cooperation with the network of cultural stations.
Novi Sad like Maribor, Berlin, Barcelona
The renovation of the District, started as part of the ‘Novi Sad – European Capital of Culture’ project, not only transformed the entire location, but also the long history of the area, which is little known to the general public.
– The transformation is more than successful and the project itself is commendable, it follows European and world trends. It would be desirable to adopt a rulebook on the allocation of space to cultural organizations and individuals, to maintain the policy of affordable monthly rents in order to motivate cultural and artistic associations and institutions to use spaces in the District and/or organize events there more often. There are a number of similar examples in Europe. The closest ones to Serbia were in Slovenia, in Maribor, where the barracks of the former YPA were turned into a space for artists. In France, there are 8,300 spaces that have been converted from their original purpose into spaces that are made available to artists and art institutions. Spaces in Barcelona and Berlin are also known.