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<nettime> artcenter slovenia at hungarian border needs help
oli {AT} zeromail.org on Wed, 14 Feb 2007 00:48:38 +0100 (CET)


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<nettime> artcenter slovenia at hungarian border needs help


help needed.

during a travel through slovenia, i made contact with the fine people
form the artcenter at the hungarian border. they are in a deadlock
situation right now, as they were evicted from their premises by local
police. the whole story goes in shortform like this:

some people invest a lot of time and ideas to start the first artists
in residence programme in slovenia, also having young people there to
stay and discuss and work about several topics.
this was backed by european union and national culture money a little bit.
then a local conflict emerged mainly between the activists and the
mayor of the area, which finally lead to a huge denunciation campaign
against the artcentre people and the eviction.
in detail, it is a complicated story, as you may read below.
the artcenter people are now in ljubiljana and trying to find a new
partner, that would buy the share from the municipality and is
interested in keeping up this place. this partner may be a private
person, a foreign institution, an association, ...
the costs would be something around 15000 euros once. but this is not
any official number, just a hint about the size. without this, this
wonderful initiative will be history, the new building will have no
use and so on...

anyone interested in an cultural/political exchange with slovenia is
called to give these people a feedback, to express solidarity and
spread the story. financial help, of course, would be the best.

best, oli

-------official artcenter-slovenia text------

Art Center in Gori??ko
Art center's web page is: www.artcenter-slovenia.org
contact: artcenter.slovenia {AT} gmail.com
(plus phonenumbers below)

Residential Art Centres in Slovenia

The first, and so far the only residential art centre in Slovenia was
established in the year 2000, when ONEJ - Association of Prekmurje
Initiative - acquired the necessary finances,  and successfully
realised the construction of the art centre (reconstruction and
transformation of a former Yugoslav guardhouse near the Slovenian -
Hungarian border, and construction of an artistic foundry) near the
village of Sredi????e in Gori??ko.

For the realisation of this project, the ONEJ Association acquired
finances from the EU Phare ??? CREDO programme for cross-border
cooperation between Slovenia and Hungary. This amounted to 252.000 EUR.

One of the project partners was the Municipality of Moravske Toplice.
Its commitment to the project was to buy the guardhouse from the
Ministry of Defence. The cost of it was 3,2 million SIT (Slovene
Tolars) or 13.353 EUR.

The contract between the EU and the ONEJ Association clearly states
that after finalisation of the project, all the property of the
project belongs to ONEJ Association.

Art Center Institution

The ONEJ Association was the initiator of establishing the Art Center
institution, as it aspired to continuous communication and cooperation
with local communities. For further development, activity and
management of the institution, the association also wanted to assure
partial financial support from Moravske Toplice???s municipal budget.

The Mayor of Moravske Toplice, Mr. Franc Cipot, suggested that the
ONEJ Association transfer part of its property to the Municipality,
along with two seats in Art Center???s board. His argument for such a
suggestion was that a bigger municipal involvement in the institution
would help convince other municipal council members to support the
constant financing of the Art Center institution. However, as will be
evident further on in the text, Mr. Cipot never proposed such a
resolution to the municipal council.

In September 2000, together with the municipalities of Moravske
Toplice and ??alovci, and The Fine Artists Society of the Prekmurje and
Prlekija region, we established Art Center ??? Institution for Culture,
Art and Development.

Founding Shares in the Institution and Members of its Board

According to the oral agreement (about the municipal financing of the
art centre) between the Mayor and ONEJ Association President Zdravko
Pravdi?? (also present was Goran Milo??evi??, who later became the first
active manager of the institution), the founding contract of Art
Center institution states:

??? ONEJ Association contributes to the municipal account the amount of
12.778.784, 70 SIT (53.325 EUR).

With that, the founding share of the municipality increased from the
initial 9 % to 33 %, and the founding share of ONEJ Association
decreased from 91 % to 66 % (of the investment value).

The founding contract also states that Art Center's board has nine
members; two  nominated by the ONEJ Association, four by the
Municipality of Moravske Toplice, one by the Municipality of ??alovci
(which invested 500.000 SIT (2.086 EUR)), one by the Fine Artists
Society of the Prekmurje and Prlekija region (which invested no money
in the project), and one by The Association of the Slovene Fine
Artists societies (as representatives of the users of the facilities).

Due to fairly balanced relations in the board, their activities were
continuous and their meetings regular; at least twice a year up to the
beginning of 2006 ??? despite constant attempts of forcing the views and
opinions of the Municipality of Moravske Toplice.

Beginning of Troubles

Troubles in the art centre began with the signing of the founding
contract:
The Mayor never proposed the regular co-financing of the Art Center
institution to the municipal council, which is a direct breach of the
oral agreement, and his way of ???outplaying??? the initiators of the Art
Center project.
Because of that, the art centre was left with practically no money for
basic expenses (electricity, telephone, fees???) in the starting phase
of its activities.
On Moravske Toplice???s cultural holiday, the Municipality organized an
official opening of the art centre, without discussing it with other
co-founders. At that time, the centre was without floors, furniture,
equipment or running water; it was basically nothing more than a mere
construction site.

Credit for Construction of Working Spaces or Artists??? Studios

Financed by the EU Phare-CREDO programme of cross-border cooperation
between Slovenia and Hungary, we built the artistic foundry and
rebuilt the main object of the art centre. With additional smaller
credit, we planned to finish construction of the remaining objects
that were planned on the premises (working and habitation facilities).

With this aim in mind, the ONEJ Association helped prepare the
necessary documentation for establishing a cultural society, Antal
Ferenc, in Sredi????e/Szerdahely, because the legislation at that time
only allowed members of national minorities to get such a credit. Of
the 60 million SIT approved for the credit, we actually only received
21 million or 87.631 EUR, because of strong objections from Tibor
V??r???? (representative of the Hungarian minority in the municipal
council, a local farmer, as well as one of Art Center???s board
members). Warranty for the whole credit was the art centre itself,
since we took on a mortgage.

Despite the mortgage, credit funds were not managed by the art centre.
Cultural society Antal Ferenc handed over management of the funds (21
million SIT) to the Municipality, who started to manage all the
dealings of the art centre concerning the government???s call for
applications, and building of the artists??? studios. Management of the
art centre, as well as its architect Ira Zorko (who also worked on the
Youth Hostel Celica project), were completely excluded from further
constructions on the facilities, which were not carried out according
to the construction licence and/or plans. One of the constructors was
the public communal company ?????ista Narava??? (of the Moravske Toplice
municipality). The architect issued a complaint; however, we never
received the construction's documentation (which should be  held at
Art Center). In the end, some 10 m?? less than originally planned was
built. The credit loan was never paid back.

Activities and gradual development

In the beginning of 2001, Art Center received the ??tefan Smej Award
for the best Slovenian regional project (it amounted to 10 million SIT
or 41.729 EUR), which was given by the then Minister of Economy Mrs.
Tea Petrin. With that, in a way, the State reimbursed taxes the art
centre had paid, since Slovenia is the only European country where
taxes have to be paid on Phare-CREDO donations.

In May 2001 ??? after the art centre was broken into, and several
additional attempts to break in were made ??? the acting director Goran
Milo??evi?? and programme manager Zdravko Pravdi?? started to work and
reside, in the actual Art Center building. In June of the same year,
several workshops took place there, with students of Ljubljana???s
Academy of Fine Arts and with the participation of younger generation
artists from Slovenia. This also marks the beginning of regular and
continuous activities of the art centre. Slowly, with constant
improvisation and 24-hours workdays, Art Center developed and started
acquiring new national project funds. It joined the Youth Centres of
Slovenia network as well as the European Voluntary Service (EVS)
programme, started executing some Ministry of Culture projects, and
started carrying out projects financed by the Slovenian Public Fund
for Cultural Activities. Gradually, artists from all over the world
started visiting Art Center.

Art Center???s first managing director, Goran Milo??evi??, handed in his
resignation after two years of voluntary work, since he had a young
family to support. Since then, Programme Manager Zdravko Pravdi??,
initiator and leader of the EU project of the art centre???s
establishment, worked predominantly alone, with occasional help from
individual volunteers and two public work programmes workers, taking
care of the objects and surroundings. In 2002 and 2003 the annual
income did not exceed 10 million SIT; the main preoccupation of the
Art centre at that time was survival. During that time, electricity
was unplugged twice, and the centre was left without an active
telephone line for six months. In February 2003 Tibor V??r???? gave a
statement on Slovenia???s national television news, saying that Art
Center was inhabited by homeless people and drunks. On one of Art
Center???s board meetings, board president Jo??ef Matis (who was also the
Vice-Mayor of Moravske Toplice at the time), was elected as the new
active manager of the centre. With programmes manager???s (i.e. Zdravko
Pravdi?????s) private funds (he invested his own savings), amounting to 1
million SIT, and with donations, wooden floors, improvised bedrooms,
kitchen, and a parking lot were built at the art centre.

On a board meeting in the Autumn of 2003, the Mayor (Mr. Cipot)
participated instead of another member of the board. Miran ??ilavec
(lawyer and bankruptcy manager) was named the new active manager of
Art Center. He quickly understood the sad reality of the centre, and
started cooperating with its team. At this time (2004), the art centre
started to function normally, since the municipal representatives
weren???t trying to get involved with the art centre???s activities
(mainly because its active manager is a lawyer). The centre???s team
successfully acquired funds from three EU programmes (ECF ??? European
Cultural Foundation, DG Enlargement, Youth programme; common value of
about 200.000 EUR). The centre was visited regularly by foreign
artists, held numerous educational workshops, and national projects
and programmes were carried out. After presenting the annual content
report, the programme director Zdravko Pravdi?? received commendations
from all the board???s members!

In 2005, with the help of German craftsman guild Axt&Kelle, the
residential part of Art Center was constructed to the third
construction phase (foundations, walls, the roof - no doors, windows
or installations), amounting to about 500 m?? (8 rooms with 16 beds,
and an office were planned).

The same year also marked the Ministry of Culture???s first financial
support of Art Center???s constructions, amounting to 2,5 million SIT
(10.432 EUR).

The calculated value of the residential building of the centre amounts
to about 26 million SIT or 108.500 EUR. Some of the board members
(those from the Municipality) opposed the construction; however, they
did not reach a resolution. Since one of the centre???s public works
programme employees (Pavel ??venda, the centre???s technical caretaker)
opposed the construction of the residential building, Art Center was
visited by numerous inspectors ??? experiencing constructional, labour,
and other inspections, as well as being visited by police on many
occasions. After the residential building constructions were finished
(to the III. constructional phase), 25 young artists from 5 EU
countries started working there, preparing an art project on the
subject of borders.

In 2005 the centre???s annual income amounted to almost 50 million SIT
(this number includes the value of the new building).

2006


On the 6th January, an article about Art Center appeared in the
newspaper ???Direkt???, written by Boris Cipot. It included statements
from Tibor V??r??s and the afore-mentioned Pavel ??venda. Several other
articles in the same newspaper followed, and consequently, in
February, the centre???s team had to answer to the Ministry of Culture,
which is the financier of the Multimedia Centres Network (M3C). On the
meeting, the Mayor of Moravske Toplice, Mr. Franc Cipot, appeared
unexpectedly, and stated that the local community doesn???t support Art
Center???s activities, and that he would like to give the municipal part
of the centre to the Ministry of Culture. The former refused his offer.

As direct consequence of the articles published in ???Direkt???, active
manager Miran ??ilavec (who received no payment for the year of his
work, which was in actuality reduced to the mere signing of documents)
resigned. The Fine Artists Society of Prekmurje and Prlekija region
and The Association of the Slovene Fine Artists societies also
denounced their memberships in the board at that time, so the
Municipality was left with the absolute majority in the board. Despite
the fact that the ONEJ Association invited other co-founders
(Municipalities of Moravske Toplice and ??alovci) to the board meetings
concerning the change of the founding contract (due to one of its
founding members, The Fine Artists Society of Prekmurje and Prlekija
region, denouncing its membership), nobody from the mentioned
Municipalities ever came to the board meetings, and so the change was
never written in the contract.




Active Manager Pika Petra Pevec

On one of the illegal board meetings (since they were not called
according to the centre???s statute ??? the invitations weren???t signed,
work materials were not included) Simona Zadravec was named active
manager of Art Center. After talking to the centre???s team, she
resigned after 3 days. After her resignation, the Municipality of
Moravske Toplice summoned a crisis board meeting, where the lawyer
Dejan Rituper is hired as its legal representative. On the next
illegal board meeting, Petra Pika Pevec (a graduate year student of
design and wife of the afore-mentioned lawyer Dejan Rituper) is
elected as Art centre???s active manager. Despite the fact that she did
not meet the requirements for the job (as stated in the centre???s
funding papers - University degree, 3 years of work experience), she
was written in the Court register of Murska Sobota as Art Center???s
official representative, whereas the ONEJ Association???s complaint
concerning this was denied by the register. The ONEJ Association is
still waiting for the ruling of the Higher Court of Maribor.

Since becoming active manager (9. March 2006), Pika Petra Pevec has
not yet visited Art Center, despite numerous invitations from its
team. Her payment comes directly from the project funds, acquired by
Art Center???s team, despite the fact that when she was elected, the
board decided her payment would be financed by the Municipalities of
Moravske Toplice and ??alovci. As active manager of the art centre,
Pika Petra Pevec, graduate year student with no work experience in
organisation or prior knowledge of working in such an institution, is
deliberately damaging the art centre: telephone, fax and internet
lines were disconnected, expenses are not being paid, she is
completely ignoring project obligations and contract partners???

Since being elected in March of this year, the damage worth at least
7.800.000 SIT or 32.549,52 EUR (Ministry of Culture and European fund
for regional development???s ???Multimedia Centres in All of Slovenia???s
Statistical Regions??? project, and Ministry of Culture???s Visual art
projects) can be attributed to her actions. Despite numerous appeals
(made by the Art Center team, as well as by the Ministry of Culture)
to sign documents and reports, she couldn???t be reached (by telephone,
postal mail or e-mails). But the damage is not just material; her
inaction is disabling the Art Center team, causing them indescribable
damage (financial support for art projects is hard to get), as well as
bringing disgrace to the Art Center name. Such was also the finding of
Judita Krivec-Dragan, the person in charge of visual arts at the
Ministry of Culture.

Immediately after being elected as acting manager, Pika Petra Pevec
authorized her husband, the afore-mentioned lawyer Dejan Rituper, as
Art Center???s legal representative. He immediately started filing
charges, temporary orders??? In April 2006, Murska Sobota???s district
court judge, Mrs. Terezija Cipot, ruled that the Art Center team,
working and residing on the premises, were causing damage to the art
centre.

Evictions

On 30. 11. 2006, programme manager Zdravko Pravdi??, Art Center???s
representative in M3C Vita ??gur (winner of the Student Pre??ern award),
the centre???s volunteer Julij Bor??tnik (winner of the Student Pre??ern
Award, and the Essl Award for young artists), visiting artists (Artist
in Context programme) Alexandra Filitreau (France) and Pawel Dziemian
(Poland), and their guest Uro?? Dimic (temporarily working on the
squatted premises of the former Rog factory) were evicted from the Art
centre.

To put it shortly: people who conceptualised the Art centre, invested
their ideas, energy, voluntary work and private funds in creating the
first residential art centre in Slovenia, were evicted from it!

Contact and further information:
Zdravko Pravdi?? ??? Pec, 00 386 (0)31 250 378
Vita ??gur, 00 386 (0)41 961 327
Julijan Bor??tnik, 00 386 (0)51 237 407
artcenter.slovenia {AT} gmail.com
www.artcenter-slovenia.org

Lawyer:
Zoran Koren??an, 00 386 (0)41 735 955, 00 386 (0)1 426 90 70
zoran.korencan {AT} siol.net

Founding shares:
ONEJ Association: 91 % -> 66,04 %
Municipality of Moravske Toplice: 9 % -> 33,02 %
Municipality of ??alovci: 0,94 %

Institution board:
ONEJ Association: 4 board members -> 2 board members
Municipality of Moravske Toplice: 2 board members -> 4 board members
Municipality of ??alovci: 1 board member
Fine Artists Society of Prekmurje and Prlekija region: 1 board member
Association of the Slovene Fine Artists societies: 1 board member

The ONEJ Association signed over part of its funds and two board
memberships to the Municipality of Moravske Toplice, as a sign of good
will and a wish for better cooperation.

What are residential art centres?
Residential art centres are places of creativity, intended mostly for
guest artists to work and reside. For many years, this concept has
been known (and recognized) all over the world as the Artists in
Residence (AiR) programme. These places/centres assure all the
necessary support (organisational, technical???) to the visiting
artists, as well as other vital living and working conditions for the
duration of their residency (such as a creative atmosphere, the
necessary peace and quiet for their working processes,???). In such
residential art centres it is completely ordinary for visiting artists
to live on the premises (for a time frame anywhere between 2 weeks and
1 year, and occasionally, although rarely, even longer). There are
over 300 such art centres in Europe alone, over 120 in USA, and
another 100 or so in the rest of the world.

The ONEJ Association had acquired approximately 567.000 EUR for Art
Center???s reconstruction and activities that took place in the period
between 2000 and 2006, whereas the Municipality of Moravske Toplice
invested a mere 22.000 EUR for the same purposes, and caused 32.549,52
EUR worth of damage in 2006 alone.
In addition, members of the ONEJ Association contributed
(approximately) 22.000 hours of voluntary work in the Art centre.


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