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Broumov 2028, the city of rock mushrooms

Broumov Walls Broumov Walls Photo by Jaroslav Winter

France, Czech Republic and Macedonia are the countries that in 2028 will indicate the European capital of culture. Here are the first candidate cities: Czech Republic: Brno, Liberec, Broumov, Budejovice. France:  Bastia, Montpellier, Reims, Rouen, Roubaix, Bourges, Clermont-Ferrand, Banlieue, Saint Denis, Nice, Lens. Macedonia: Skopje. EcocNews begins a new journey among the cities that are applying for the European capital of culture for 2028. Today we discover the city of Broumov, in the Czech Republic.

In 2028 it will be the third time that the Czech Republic will have a European Capital of Culture after Prague in 2000 and Plsen in 2015.

Broumov is a small area between hills, forests and rocks in the northeast of the Czech Republic on the border with Poland. The scope roughly corresponds to the Protected Landscape Area Broumovsko, which defines not only its size, but also the overall character. Broumov walls and sandstone rocks are natural landmarks of the landscape and the intersections of the influences of economic and cultural centers of the region - Broumov, Police nad Metují and Teplice nad Metují.

The area is separated by a wall of sandstone rocks from the rest of the country. Far from the interior, it was always a bit closed and lived on its own. This is the basis of his genius loci influenced by history, the influence of the Benedictines and a significant, almost complete, exchange of inhabitants after 1945. The Broumov region has always paid for a distinctive territory, a meeting place of cultures, nationalities and worldviews - and much of it remains to this day. The heart of the region is the town of Broumov. The city with less than 7,400 inhabitants has always served its surroundings as a cultural, educational and economic center. Despite its remoteness, specifics and history, the Broumov region is taking its second breath so that it can once again become a culturally rich center of encounter.

Why did your city decide to apply for the European capital of culture?

Broumov is historically closely linked with the Benedictine Order and the monastery that the Order built here – thanks to it, the town was a social, cultural and educational centre for its surroundings for a long period of its history. Especially due to historical events in the last century (such as the displacement of the German population after World War II or the socialist period following afterwards), it has slowly lost this importance. Over the last 20 years or so, the town has been slowly returning to its origins – reviving the cultural scene, activating local communities, establishing cross-border cooperation and finding ways to develop the town and the region to increase the quality of life for its inhabitants. The candidacy is an accelerator of this journey, a journey towards what has been the place's own for centuries.

What do you think are the keywords of your application?

Quality of life, local, communities, resources, development and change, nature and culture.

How are you involving citizens in this competition?

The big advantage of Broumov and the Broumov region is that we’re not a big city with hundreds of thousands inhabitants and thousands of people in the cultural and creative sector. It’s always hard to involve a larger number of people, to find out what they’re missing, the one, strong idea that could unite them and actually make a change. We’ve already managed to do that, mainly in the process of developing the cultural strategy of the city and region. During the first, analytical part, local citizens took part in the questionnaire survey – and around 30 representatives of cultural institutions from a city library to an independent music festival, schools and art schools, public and business sector participated in the research and following  series of workshops. This ensures that the strategy developed by those who’ll actually use it. We also involved some of these people and students in creating a brief for a new visual identity of the city which is going to be done by a professional studio together with a local graphic designer. Participatory approach is a significatnt factor of our working process, so these are just two examples and more is about to come.

What are the next steps on your journey?

The most important thing in upcoming months is finnishing the BiD Book as we’re about to apply for the competition in the beginning of September. During March and April, the finalisation of the cultural strategy is ahead of us as well. And we’d like to mention one of the projects which is already hapenning this year and is also connected with the topic of participation. It’s an international initiative OnStage – Music School for Social Change which supports the inclusion of socially disadvantaged children through group teaching of performing arts. The project is about transferring good practice from one city to another and Broumov is one of the 5 Czech and Slovak cities involved in it. We have a local working and focus group who develop this transfer and specific projects.

What are your thoughts on the European Capital of Culture competition?

For us, the candidacy is our own creative way of sustainable development of the Broumov region. We see culture as an opportunity to activate local citizens, strengthen and connect communities. We see it as a way to revitalise a region close to borders, burdened by difficult historical events that have affected its prosperity and the lives of its inhabitants. It is an opportunity to understand, learn how to work with and treat local assets – nature, tranquillity and a strong cultural history. It is an opportunity to forge new international partnerships that can inspire us, or for which Broumov could be an inspiration oh how to develop quality life in the periphery.

Serafino Paternoster

Ecocnews Founder, Journalist, repentant jazz guitarist, music critic and film lover.

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