– I would say that we definitely do not have anything similar in the country, and as for abroad, I have not had the opportunity to visit such places or neighbourhoods. However, according to some of the artists who visited us, something like this can be seen, for example, in Berlin, which is considered the European New York. I would be happy if the same could be said for the District – says Obrad Škrbić, CEO of the Student Cultural Centre of Novi Sad.
For more than ten years, the institution has been located in the famous ‘Fabrika’, one of the first buildings that was renovated in the process of transforming the District into a new centre of culture and art in Novi Sad, launched as part of the ‘Novi Sad – European Capital of Culture’ project. As Škrbić says, in a way, they are already natives of that location, and the reconstruction of the space has improved working conditions for them, as well as enjoyment for all visitors.
– We left ‘Fabrika’ in December 2018, after which the renovation began, which was completed on 30 June 2021. The new contract was signed with the City Administration for Property, and from the autumn of the same year we started with the programmes – explains Škrbić. – We are extremely satisfied with the newly acquired functionality of the entire space. In the renovated ‘Fabrika’ we got central heating, as well as a modern air conditioning system, our roof was fixed, we have new insulation, toilets, including those for people with disabilities, etc. Thus, ‘Fabrika’ has become a space available for all our fellow citizens. Furthermore, the facility is pet friendly, which changes only if the programme requires it. In addition to this, thanks to the Administration for Construction Land and Investments of the City of Novi Sad, the storm water drainage problem has been solved, so we no longer have flooding when it rains heavily. The traffic infrastructure has been improved, and now we have enough parking spaces surrounding the District.
Obrad Škrbić expressed satisfaction with the fact that the renovation of Fabrika was carried out in accordance with and in agreement with the employees of SCCNS, and, as he said, they received both a functional space for the organization of the programmes that they now implement in a much easier and more efficient way, as well as an office in which employees can perform their daily activities.
In your opinion, what are the advantages of the District, i.e., what makes it stand out?
– I think it stands out for its well-organized infrastructure, and the location itself is very accessible for all types of transportation, which is important because visitors don’t have to think about how to easily get to and from here. We have the Danube at our fingertips, as well as Liman Park, and we are not far from the city centre. Simply, this is a point that is well connected to all parts of the city and in that sense it seems easily accessible to all our fellow citizens, as well as those who come from afar.
What is the cooperation and neighbourly relations with other organizations there? You have been here the longest of all, so in a way you have been the ‘host’ to organizations that have moved in recently.
– We only have words of praise for our neighbours. Cooperation runs smoothly, we support each other and help when help is needed. It often happened, especially last year when Novi Sad was the European Capital of Culture, that we had joint programmes that were successfully implemented. We have every reason to believe that it will be the same in the future.
What are the plans of your organization in the near future, what can we expect in the following period?
Starting from autumn, a serious pace begins in the realization of not only individual programs – concerts, exhibitions, promotions of literary and comic books, but also several festivals that have been an integral part of our autumn and winter calendar for years. When we talk about music programs, we have excellent cooperation with a large number of promoters with whom we organize concerts that would be more difficult to perform independently, both technically and financially. It is extremely important for us to have non-mainstream music genres represented, so we revived the blues scene with several notable concerts.
We organize the Panonia Dry Sea Festival, which is dedicated to stoner rock and slay rock sound, as well as the Serbian Underground Festival, which was started in the Belgrade Youth Center, but a few years ago the organizers and founders moved it to the Factory. There is also the To Be.Punk.Festival, which will be held this year for the 16th time and which features punk and hard core bands. In addition, classical and jazz music programs are planned for the first time in the new building. It should be in operation by the end of the year, and there we will have much better conditions for exhibitions, various artistic performances, chamber music and drama programs, as well as theater performances. Therefore, Fabrika will remain the “house” for rock and roll, punk, hard core, metal and other alternative music genres, and in the new building we will improve the program with a focus on classical and jazz music.
In the fall, the Novi Sad comic weekend will follow, as well as a series of activities that will be realized as part of the Power of Women in Comics project – WomCom, which we are the holder of, and which deals with the empowerment of female comic artists, as well as the promotion of their equal treatment in terms of payment, visibility and representation – announced Škrbić. – It is interesting that SKCNS is the only institution in the Western Balkans that has been approved for a project in the competition of the EU program “Creative Europe” in 2022, in the category of medium-sized cooperation projects. This shows that our competences, experience and past work are recognized as relevant at the European level.
Will the Tanz Platz and Upad theater festivals be organized in the District again this year?
In September of this year, the seventh edition of the Tanz Platz festival will take place, when young actors on the European stage will gather in Fabrika, who will show new trends in contemporary dance. We started the “Upad” theater festival with the aim of promoting and popularizing theater art for young people, and all the performances in the program are chosen by active young viewers. Both festivals are extremely important to us because their target group is young people, which overlaps with the focus of our activities, but also because they are part of large European projects. This means that they enable us to meet, network and exchange experiences with numerous European and world artists and cultural workers.
Photo: Vladimir Veličković