On 5 November 2016, the fourth round table within ACT4CITY project, following the ones organized in Belgrade, Podgoricu and Duborovnik, was held in Skoplje. Entitled “Independent Culture for Sustainable Development of Balkan Cities - Possibilities, Experiences, Proposals” it was organized by the project partner CCN Creative City Network and attended by 17 representatives of independent cultural scene from Macedonia and the region. Below you can read conclusions from the round table.
Independent Culture for Sustainable Development of Balkan Cities - Possibilities, Experiences, Proposals
The discussion started with a short introduction of the project ACT4CITY and the sustainable urban development of the Balkan cities, problematics that this project treats. The short introduction of the project and its regional collaboration were followed by presentation of the video How Skopje 2014
Ate the Urban Commons made by local NGO Freedom Square that showed the local context and the circumstances in which the Macedonian civil society organizations and independent scene in general operate. That led the discussion towards highlighting the major problems in terms of sustainability, not only in the Macedonia, but also of the wider Balkan region. Some of them are:
- Inadequate laws for construction that are often changed to meet the needs of investors, while destroying nature, the environment and the common space;
- Mass privatization of common space that causes violation of the construction laws by investors, process that is supported by local authorities;
- The city authorities do not take into account the needs and the experiences that citizens have as users of the space, therefore the citizens are not included in the planning process;
- There is a large non-transparency of the institutions, not only in the way information are presented, but also in the selective application of existing parameters that are always in the interests of capital and not meeting the needs of citizens;
- Disregard of collective awareness, cultural heritage, development continuity, habits and customs of a city and its brutal cutting by the city authorities;
- Weak, insignificant cooperation between civil society organizations and city officials;
- Inadequate education system which purpose is to exclude the critical thinking and not to prepare for acting in the real context;
- Loss of the role of the citizens in the society, the relation to the common space and the culture of living and creating a node between the institutions and their users.
The above mentioned problems are related to the conditions in which the independent sector operates, circumstances which consequently affect and make the sustainable development of the Balkan cities more difficult.
The main and essential challenges are:
How to activate the citizens? How to return the institutions and the public good to the citizens, at the same time to raise awareness among citizens that institutions are dedicated to them? How to make citizens, in the corrupt process of privatization, feel part of the wider community?
All participants in the Round Table agreed that it is a long and difficult process, and as part of the strategies were presented the following proposals:
- Informing the public about the real conditions in order to create an active civil society that would be involved in the process of creating regulations;
- Mandatory involvement of citizens in the process of decision-making in the public interest;
- Creating a new methodology for collecting and using information, not only existing and available but also new and experiential, always taking into account the needs of citizens;
- Acting on specific issues, such as legal aspects related to declaring cultural heritage and adoption of spatial plans;
- Cross-disciplinary and cross-sectoral cooperation for creating sustainable models in the benefit of the public good.
Participants of the round table were:
- Sonja Dragović - Expeditio / Arch Commune, Podgorica
- Marija Čačić - Arch Commune, Podgorica
- Miloš Janković – Ministarstvo prostora, Belgrade
- Antonija Peševski - Activist, Skopje
- Ilčo Ilievski - Activist, Skopje
- Monika Petrov - Activist, Skopje
- Mihajlo Stojanovski – student of architecture, Skopje
- Violeta Kačakova – Lokomotiva, Skopje
- Ivan Arsovski – Agency for planning the space of R. Macedonia
- Petar Antevski – MOF, Youth Education Forum of R Macedonia
- Goce Ljubinovski - CORZ, Center for Sustainable Development of Communities, Debar
- Sonja Damčevska – KOR CSD, Coalition for Sustainable Development, Skopje
- Divna Penčić – Architecture Faculty Skopje / KOR CSD, Skopje
- Ivana Dragšić – City for all / Freedom Square, Skopje
- Danica Cigi Pavlovska – I love GTC, Skopje
- Erina Filipovska - City Creative Network (CCN), Skopje
- Milan Dinevski - City Creative Network (CCN), Skopje
ACT4CITY is funded by Balkan Arts and Culture Fund BAC. BAC is supported by the Swiss Government through the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) and the European Cultural Foundation (EFC).