Promoting Slovenia’s culture and its identity, creativity, and artists abroad is one of the key elements of the country’s foreign policy. In previous years, a lot of work has been done to support the Slovenian economy, which is very export-oriented. Nevertheless, the promotion of cultural identity remains of special value, often complementing or preceding economic diplomacy.
In a time of budget constraints, Slovenia has managed to establish two cultural centres – in Vienna and Berlin. Although they are still quite modest, operating within the residential embassies in these two cities, they are the nucleus of a future network.
Overall, Slovenian embassies are very active in introducing and promoting Slovenian cultural creativity, which is especially vibrant and rich, in cities around the world. The state has set up a special financing fund dedicated to the organisation of individual cultural events throughout its entire diplomatic network. One of the basic guidelines is that each diplomatic event organised by the embassy should also be used for presenting Slovenian cultural creativity in the broadest meaning of the word.
Culture has always played a very significant role throughout the history of the Slovenian nation, and of Slovenia as an independent country. With the purpose of promoting culture and art effectively and in an organised manner, the Republic of Slovenia followed the example of other nations and established its first Slovenian Cultural Information Centre in 2011 in Austria, called SKICA.
SKICA is a joint project of the Ministry of Culture and Ministry of Foreign Affairs that has clear objectives, namely to introduce Slovenian art to the Austrian and international public, bring together Slovenian and Austrian artists, connect national cultural institutions, bring Slovenian projects and artists to renowned Austrian festivals, fairs and other events, as well as to participate in bilateral relations at the highest level.
The most important aim of SKICA is to raise the profile of Slovenian creativity in Austria. Since the EU places a high value on the free movement of people, goods, services and capital, we are now even more closely linked by culture, which is inseparably linked with the mobility of artists. It is exactly this awareness that serves as a foundation of the centre’s actions, i.e. the notion that culture, through cultural diplomacy, also includes the implementation of foreign policy in international relations in the form of soft power. This gives culture a state representative function, in that it can be used to enhance Slovenia’s presence on the international stage.
In order to ensure the successful operation of SKICA, it is vital that it is properly placed within the cultural space of Vienna and Austria. Although SKICA does not have its own facilities for hosting events, this has proven to be an advantage as presentations held at important Austrian locations reach a wider public and gain more recognition.
Since its establishment, SKICA has maintained partnerships with important festivals such as the Vienna Design Week, Wienerfestwochen, Literaturhaus Wien, Waves Vienna and others, and at the same time is an active partner in the EUNIC Austria network of cultural institutes. Through EUNIC, SKICA has become a part of both the Austrian and European cultural landscapes. Each year, SKICA organises, co-organises and promotes from 35 to 40 events. Media responses, attendance at the events and a growing interest in participation show that SKICA has already reached its original goals, and is now a successful model of a cultural centre.
The second Slovenian cultural institution in the German speaking area
The Slovenian cultural centre in Berlin opened its doors on 1 June 2016, when Slovenia was celebrating 25 years of independence. The newly-opened cultural centre, whose primary purpose is to promote Slovenian culture and artists in Berlin and elsewhere across Germany, was founded in response to the wish for deeper relations between the two nations.
The Slovenian Cultural Centre in Berlin is the second Slovenian cultural institution in the German-speaking area. This is not surprising, as historically speaking Slovenia has had strong ties with this region. The two Slovenian centres work together, in a coordinated manner, ensuring added value to the implementation of their programmes, which work to promote Slovenian culture and artists, of all genres, and establish links between governmental and non-governmental cultural institutions. They also provide support for Slovenian artists when they attend international festivals, fairs and so on.
The Slovenian Cultural Centre in Berlin has been active for nearly six months, and it is already evident that Slovenian artists are becoming more confident and recognised in this context, while their work contributes an important tile in the mosaic of the international art scene. Most of the performers in the projects carried out by the Slovenian Cultural Centre in Berlin have received good reviews, and thus invitations for further cooperation.
Indeed, there is growing interest in the events organised by the Slovenian Cultural Centre in Berlin, and with the Centre’s aid many Slovenian institutions and artists have been hosted in the city for the first time. For example, the main Slovenian theatre company, the Slovenian National Theatre Drama Ljubljana, made its first appearance in Berlin with the play Als ich tot war (When I was Dead) by Ernst Lubitsch, adapted from his silent film, and performed in his theatre and the Babylon Cinema.
The Slovenian Cultural Centre in Berlin makes efforts to encourage Slovenian artists to create new pieces especially for German-speaking audiences, where they then have their opening nights. This is certainly an added encouragement for Slovenian artists to produce more international work.
This year will mark even deeper cultural cooperation with Russia
The year 2016 was dedicated to the 25th anniversary of Slovenia’s independence. The Minister of Foreign Affairs, Karl Erjavec, addressed the guests at the opening of an exhibition called Velika vojna v Krnskem pogorju. Sinovi Rusije v slovenskih Alpah (The great war in the Krn mountain range. The sons of Russia in the Slovenian Alps) in the Museum of Contemporary Russian History. Following his speech, artist Dragan Živadinov carried out an informative performance in the vicinity of Red Square. In Saint Petersburg, the honorary consul of the Republic of Slovenia organised an exhibition called I Feel Slovenia. I Feel at home, to mark the anniversary of the nation’s independence.
In the country that sent the first man into space, the opening of a memorial room at the Slovenian Embassy in Moscow dedicated to Herman Potočnik Noordung, the pioneer of space architecture, was certainly of a great value and interest.
In addition to such memories of the past, Russian experts in fields of culture and art did not overlook the impressive achievements of contemporary Slovenian artists. The regular autumn programme of one of the most important Russian galleries, the Garage Museum of Contemporary Art, included an exhibition from the Museum of Modern Art in Ljubljana called Neue Slowenisch Kunst: From Kapital to Capital. Its opening was attended by the Minister of Culture, Anton Peršak. His visit in September 2016, as well as signing a joint statement with the Russian Ministry of Culture on the presentation of Slovenian culture in the Russian Federation, and of Russian culture in the Republic of Slovenia for the 2017 and 2018 seasons, further encouraged the strengthening of bilateral relations in a cultural context. The performance of the renowned Slovenian choir Carmina Slovenica, and their project When the Mountain Changed its Clothing, convinced the committee that it was worthy of Russia’s most prestigious theatre award, and thus this group won the coveted Golden Mask.
The acclaimed M.V. Lomonosov Moscow State University also hosted an international conference on the Slovenian language, literature and culture in a Slavic and European context in November 2016, which was organised by the Department of Slavic Languages. A comprehensive two-day conference programme was enriched by an exhibition of Slovenian grammar books and dictionaries, called Poljub z jezikom (A Kiss with a Tongue).
The many successes of 2016 were rounded off with the opening of the Centre of Slavic Cultures at the Rudomino All-Russia State Library for Foreign Literature, in co-operation with the International Foundation Forum of Slavic Cultures. The Centre serves as an additional platform for promoting Slovenian culture in the Russian Federation.
Other notable events of the previous year, as organised by the Slovenian Embassy in Moscow, included a literary evening with Ivo Svetinam, the Slovenian writer and president of the Slovene Writers’ Association, held at the Rudomino library; a screening of the Slovenian film Panika (Panic) at the EU film festival in Kaliningrad; and the presentation of Slovenian products at the Winter Bazaar, a traditional charity fund-raiser in Moscow.
The Slovenian Embassy in Moscow is now preparing for further cooperation with the Ministry of Culture in opening and implementing the Season of Slovenian Culture in 2017.
Every year, the Embassy of Slovenia in Washington organises a range of cultural, public diplomacy, educational and science events – all highlighted in the weekly Embassy Newsletter and promoted through the Embassy’s website, social, printed and even TV media. The Embassy has a spacious reception hall, which also serves as a gallery space and concert room. On these premises the Embassy often also hosts exhibitions curated by Slovenian museums.
Besides a series of cultural events held at the Embassy, including concerts, film screenings, plays, panel discussions, lectures, wine tastings, cooking lessons, tourist promotions and at least five exhibitions a year, the Embassy presents many of its events in collaboration with other embassies and consulates, non-governmental and nonprofit organisations, Slovenian societies and clubs in the USA, universities and other partner organisations. In 2016 alone, the Embassy organised around 140 events, trying to embrace all aspects of the arts, from architectural showcases to films, sculptures, paintings, visual arts, dance, theatre and music. Many of these events were dedicated to the 25th anniversary of Slovenia’s independence.
In addition to introducing Slovenian culture to US audiences, the Embassy is also active in Mexico. With the assistance of honorary consuls in Mexico City and Guadalajara, Slovenian writers participate in the Guadalajara Book Fair every year, while theatre groups perform at different festivals (such as FCTAI in Zacatecas). Most recently, curator Vasja Nagy presented the Art in a Suitcase project in Mexico, which featured several Slovenian artists.
The Embassy of Slovenia also participates in annual cultural events organised in cooperation with the Delegation of the European Union in Washington, DC, other EU member states’ embassies, non-EU embassies, consulates, non-governmental and nonprofit organisations and universities. The Embassy is also an active member of two European Union National Institutes for Culture (EUNIC) clusters – the EUNIC Washington cluster and the EUNIC New York cluster, both dedicated to promoting contemporary European culture in the US.
The American Slovenian Educational Foundation and Kerže Endowment Fund work enhance cooperation between Slovenia and the US in the context of educational programmes, such as the Fulbright Program. The Embassy regularly collaborates with the VTIS Association and the Society for Slovene Studies, and has for the past three years organised a Science and Educational Showcase for researchers, scientists and scholars, with the support of the Slovenian diaspora.
Slovenian Roots visits the descendants of Slovenes all around the world to find out what it’s like growing up Slovene and how they feel about their home away from home.
The show can be found in the web archives of RTV Slovenija – 4d.rtvslo.si .
REGISTRATION (free): slovenianresearch.eventbrite.com.au
H. E. Mrs Helena Drnovšek-Zorko, Ambassador of the Republic of Slovenia in Australia
KEY NOTE: Why and when Slovenia matters
Professor Glenda Sluga, ARC Laureate Fellow, Professor of International History, FAHA, The University of Sydney
KEY NOTE: The Future of International Collaboration in Education and Research
Professor Zlatko Skrbiš, President of the University of Ljubljana Global Alumni and Associates Network (SMUL) & Vice-Provost (Graduate Education, Monash University)
DATE: 22 May 2017, 10:00am-4:00pm
VENUE: Green Brain Conference Rooms, RMIT City Campus, Torey Hall, Building 16, Level 7, 336-348 Swanston Street Melbourne (next to RMIT Library), Melbourne (Interactive Map)
LUNCH/DINNER: A light lunch will be served at the conference. A dinner will follow, for those who wish to attend, at your own cost.
CO-ORGANISERS: Slovenian Australian Academic Association, Office of the Government of the Republic of Slovenia for Slovenians Abroad, European Union Centre at RMIT, European Law Faculty – Member Of The New University, Slovenian Australian Chamber of Commerce, with the support of the Embassy of the Republic of Slovenia in Canberra
SPONSOR: Office of the Government of the Republic of Slovenia for Slovenians Abroad
INFO: email@example.com or +61 4 568 59 306
FACEBOOK EVENT: www.facebook.com/events/391608791178751/
There is a lot that can be learned from the history of our families; genealogical research is the window to who we are and where we came from.
Over 25 years ago, I started my family tree as a school project. Back then it was only an illustration of my immediate family: aunts, uncles, cousins and grandparents. Over the years, I continued to add many more people–grandaunts and granduncles, great grandparents and others. I had the benefit of the knowledge of my grandaunt and two of her cousins, who, were all born in the early 20th century. They, being of a different generation than anyone else I knew, allowed me to learn about people who no one else could tell me about. Their work will never be taken for granted or forgotten as they are the reason why this became a passion for me. Despite age being the reason why their progress on this work ended, my work never stopped despite the, at times, slow progress that I was making.
It was only years later that I realized that my cousin had been doing the same work as I was, just using different resources. We eventually joined our research together and continued onward with our work. Once we had combined our findings, our interest only grew of all of the connections we had to other families. This led us to reach further and sent us searching for more resources which led us to our first great find, the Archdiocesan Archives in Ljubljana. This turned out to be a great investment in time as we were able to answer questions that had circled around our family for years which never had any answers with solid evidence to back them up as well.
Shortly after, we learned of the family books that were kept in churches as a form of census of the people in each parish. This was the next evolution in our work. With this information available to us, our interest only escalated further.
In 2011, my cousin and I took a trip to Slovenia together to gather as much information as possible on the village from which our parents came from. With that information in hand, we returned home and for 4 consecutive days, we worked for 16 hours a day to fully document our findings from our trip. With every name added came two more questions about who the newly added person was. By the end of the 4 days, we had added over 3,000 names to our family tree. With all of the other research done to this point, we had well over 4,000 people in our family tree with more questions than ever before. I think it was at that point that we had realized that we could not stop there. We had added multiple generations of grandparents, second cousins, third cousins and even more complex relations.
With every degree deeper, we found connections to other villages and that essentially defined the fate we have come to terms with now; our work will never stop.
Now, 6 years after our first real discoveries outside of our immediate family, we are approaching 25,000 people in what is no longer just a family tree but a genealogical picture of the people of a small portion of the Bela Krajina region of Slovenija. We have fully documented 2 parishes and we are currently working on our third with at least 4 more parishes on our to-do list. We have been able to help many people in Canada and the United States reconnect with their roots, which has been one of the most fulfilling outcomes of all of our efforts.
While there are some people who may have the skills to do this work themselves, a majority do not. It involves having an understanding of multiple languages including Slovenian, German and Latin and a propensity to accurately document historical documents; needless to say, it is a demanding task. It is relatively easy to find a genealogist to do the same work for you but it always comes at a cost.
Our goal always has been and always will be to provide this information freely to anyone who requests it. The greatest benefit of studying villages and whole parishes is that you learn a lot more about the people who lived there than by only studying a single family. So much more can be learned and told about those families which is the true reward in what we do.
We are always looking for people to help us continue our work whether it involves contributing literary material, genealogical material or even financial support.
The big picture includes completing a full and comprehensive genealogical profile of Slovenia starting in Bela Krajina but this is something that we cannot do ourselves. We want to learn about the country that we come from, the country we live in and the people who were here before us and share it with others.
We encourage you to visit our site at gfamilytree.com and considering supporting our work.
A nation of 2 million people can have a great impact on the lives of people all over the world. Slovenians are a living proof of that.
The 4th annual ASEF (American Slovenian Education Foundation) Gala, held in Cleveland on March 25, 2017, was dedicated to American Slovenian inventors, innovators and educators, presented by Dr. Edi Gobec. He has spent most of his life diligently collecting and researching every person of Slovenian background that could be considered a candidate for ‘who is who’ in any field, and in American science and industry in particular. His book ’Slovenian American Inventors and Innovators’ is another of his attempts to honor and respect Slovenians who, with their work, had great impact not only on the lives of Slovenians, but of people all over the world.
»Slovenians only represent one tenth of a percent of population in the U.S. However, we have contributed 3% of senators and 3% of astronauts to the U.S.«, highlighted Dr. Gobec, clearly demonstrating that Slovenians have an important role in the American society. One of the Slovenians we can be proud of and has had a great impact on technological development is Dr. France Rode, who was also present at the Gala. He was the lead inventor of the first sophisticated pocket-size HP-35 calculator, was involved in the development of first lap top, and holds numerous patents, including three for GPS.
Having the Gala in Cleveland was a unique opportunity for the ASEF to reach broader Slovenian Community in the U.S. The event was enriched with Slovenian music performed by all male Slovenian singing group ‘Mi smo Mi’, based in Cleveland, Ohio. Ambassador of the Republic of Slovenia Božo Cerar congratulated ASEF on its important work on establishing connection between Slovenia and the U.S. in the field of education and science, and spoke in the name of distinguished sponsor Borut Pahor, President of the Republic of Slovenia, who expressed his outmost support to the work of the foundation.
With an aim to enable even more students to follow their dreams and strengthen their expertise, ASEF has been growing its fellowship program. This year there are already 20 positions open with 20 different professors at prominent U.S. universities. In addition, up to two students from the U.S. will be able to go to Slovenia and work with professors there. Ryan, who will go to Slovenia this summer to work with Dr. Borut Ṥkodlar at the University Medical Center Ljubljana, expressed his gratitude and excitement to be given this opportunity with the ASEF.
Thomas Brandi, ASEF President, explained the fellowship program as a two way bridge, connecting Slovenia and the U.S. through education. One lane, the one from Slovenia to the U.S. is already developed and is growing each year. The other lane, from U.S. to Slovenia, is being built in a greater extent.
Jure Leskovec, ASEF Co-founder, underlined the need to expand the fellowship program for American students, and therefore invited Slovenian professors, families, and companies, to open their door to students. The program is being very well accepted in the U.S., growing from 9 fellows last year to 20 in 2017, and they wish for the same trend in Slovenia.
Peter Rožič, S.J., ASEF Co-founder, encourages everyone with the ability and will, to host Slovenian students in the U.S. ASEF fellowship program is changing lives, not only the ones of students, whose worldviews get changed, but also for the hosting families, who take students in their homes. This way students do not only get the professional and research experience, but also the experience of American way of life.
The Slovenian Language and Culture Association Queensland has published the first issue of a new magazine for Slovenians in Australia, The Hen.
The printed magazine offers a range of topics related to Slovenian cultural heritage, history, current news, cooperation among Slovenians in Australia, human interest stories and entertainment. Designed to promote Slovenia, the magazine will be published four times a year in Slovenian and English.
Additional information is available on the Association’s Facebook profile.
Jerneja Svetičič, president of the Slovenian Language and Culture Association Queensland
Women were clearly the main protagonists at the central Slovenian Culture Day ceremony, which Slovenians in Italy celebrated at the Lojze Bratuž Culture Centre. Tamara Blažina, the Slovenian member of the Italian parliament, was the honorary speaker at the event, at which the umbrella organisations of the minority, the Slovenian Cultural and Economic Association (SKGZ) and the Council of Slovenian Organisations (SSO), conferred honours on deserving contributors to our cultural life, all three of whom were women this year. The recipients were Bruna Dorbolò, culture organiser and administrator; Dorica Makuc, journalist and persistent researcher of stories from Goriška in particular; and Marija Pirjevec, the Trieste-based literary critic, teacher and tireless mediator between Italian and Slovenian culture. Marija Pirjevec was the only one to receive the award in person, as Dorbolò and Makuc could not be present due to health reasons.
Slovenian cultural institutions in Italy take turns in organising the 8 February ceremony. This year, it was put on by the Association of Slovenian Catholic Education from Gorizia, which dedicated the event to Gorizia composer and conductor Lojze Bratuž (1902-1937), whose life was ended prematurely by Fascist violence 80 years ago.