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Veszprem 2023, beams of light on Hungary

Veszprem 2023, A shot during the international press tour Veszprem 2023, A shot during the international press tour Photo by EcocNews

A city is a living place, a city lives, just like a human being: it grows and changes. It ages and renews itself. Fortunately, it does not die, in most cases. And there are those who try not to undergo it, but to lead this change through culture.

A tangible example is Veszprem, European Capital of Culture for 2023. It won a fierce competition in Hungary through a bidbook entitled Shine. And it is this claim that inspires the entire cultural program where light, illumination, has a special meaning also projected through the beautiful logo that recalls the V of Veszprem, but also the rays of a sun, beams of light.

Along the international press tour, the organizers showed journalists how, through the European Capital of Culture program, they want to change the city by improving its destiny, bringing it closer to European culture, looking at the glorious past, but developing a new perspective of the future to improve the quality of life of citizens.

"A city that we wanted to divide into three parts: the historic center, with their small houses and elegant alleys tangible signs of a strong identity; the present with the new functions of the urban center chosen through a public call; and the future with the new service area for the many university students with state-of-the-art support facilities."

And so it is that the guide points to a beautiful café where they serve tasty breakfasts or another space where they associate wine with vinyl records, complete with a DJ. Two examples of young entrepreneurs who, supported precisely by the Ecoc 2023 program, overcame the competition for their ideas and have some time to prove to the community that they achieve economic autonomy. The result is that today, in the part of the present, you can spend leisure time in perfectly renovated premises that try to consistently dialogue with the past and the future.

The European Capital of Culture program has obtained a huge funding of about 180 million euros to the event. About one-third of this will be spent on the program and its organization; the remaining two-thirds have been earmarked for infrastructure investment. 

Such as precisely the redevelopment of the entire university area with fields for sports, for research, for technological development, for creativity and the arts, a park, (green city center), an within peer the dance a center for folklore, for Yoga activities, in what was a children's hospital. An entire area called, not surprisingly, The ActiCity Centre.

The ActiCity center will provide ideal training and performance facilities for groups that have until now been spread out all over the city. Groups dedicated to classical ballet, folk dance, various different kinds of social dance and modern forms of movement will at last find an affordable, self-supporting home here.

It’s the most important project of Veszprem 2023.

During the international press conference EcocNews asked Veszprem 2023 director Alìne Markovitz what impact the pandemic and war have had on the cultural program. "They had," she replied, "a great impact because we were forced to revise some points of the program on the basis of the limits of participation that were imposed by the pandemic at the time, but also from the economic point of view because the costs concerning the raw materials of the infrastructure have increased enormously.

"The model," they explain during the international press tour, "is that of Marseille, European Capital of Culture in 2013. The idea, in short, is to give the city an opportunity that does not stop at the present, but continues for a long time."

The role of private individuals is very important. "The beginning had public funding, but after a few years the infrastructure has to go on its own legs."

There is also a chrono program. Work is currently still in progress, but bulldozers and cranes can be seen all over the place. "The park will be ready in April, everything else within the year."

But the strength of this bid seems to be the involvement of the entire region near Lake Balaton, a summer destination for many Hungarian and other tourists. What in the past was a summer destination of kings and queens is now a prime tourist destination. In the cultural program, all 116 municipalities in the region have been involved through ad hoc funding by calculating one euro per citizen.

A dream that wants to become reality. "Our dream is to bring artists from all over the world here, but also to allow our young people to build their future here. Our dream is for our city to become a key player in the future of all of Hungary."

And the community is trying hard to achieve this goal.

Mariateresa Cascino

Ecocnews Editor in Chief, Journalist, book lover and Co-Founder of the Women’s Fiction Festival.

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