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NOn


activist for HoPper liberation.
Location: ffidrac

Total posts: 1643
Posted:This is a story of Art Center Slovenia... Maybe none of you care about this place if you've never been there, and there's no reason why you should, but i feel the need to tell it's story, another of many stories of how greed and power can destroy dreams. and because I am so angry and saddened by what has happened.

Yes it's personal, i was a volunteer there for six months, and have wonderful friends there, but it could happen again anywhere.

As I write this, the people in Art Center are preparing to be kicked out. They're not going to go without a fight and a protest, but it will happen. A court order has been passed to make them leave within 24 hours. so why? i shall start from the beginning, as much as i know.

So it started as a tiny idea of one person, to build the first rural residential Art Center in Slovenia. soon the idea expanded into a small group of people who would make the idea happen. Hours, days, months, years of work and bureaucracy to gather enough money a suitable building and all the materials to supply. At some point in this process, the local municipality became involved, saying they would give money to the running of Art Center. At this point should emphasise, that the municipality have rights to about 6% of Art Center, whereas the founders have ownership of about 88% of the project. Although it is no longer really a factor, the municpality promised Art Center a certain amount of money for it's development, of which Art Center has received 1/3. This was back in the start of the project. Since 2000, they have not given Art Center anything. (the mayor has admitted that on national radio...)

The organisation survives by writing applications for a variety of EU and government funds, which have enabled them to carry out the range of artistic and ecological projecs that they do. None of the people working at Art Center receive any kind of salary for their work, and because it is open doors 24 hours a day, all the volunteers live inside the residential part of art center alongside any visiting artists. The aim is to provide a space for artist residencies from slovenia and abroad, as well as a space for local people to join workshops, use computer equipment, or just as a meeting point for young people in what is a very rural area of the country. This has slowly been happening over the last six years, from an empty shell of an ex YU military guardhouse, the building is now equipped with multimedia equipment, residential space, one of the first foundries(for metal casting) in slovenia, and all because the idea man wants his project to be a success, has put in 8 years (conception to building) of work and put up with a continuous onslaught of mostly negative press and longwinded bureaucracy. There is so much more to this history, but perhaps i have already gone on too long... i hope you get the idea that this is a lot of work by a very few people in the face of a lot of adversity...

So. recognising the success of Art Center so far, by the amount of project applications that have been successful, the so far unhelpful local government, now wants a piece of it, and for the last 6 months have been pulling out all the stops to try and get hold of it... It started with bad press, and continued... and bearing in mind this is the local government, what may seem like childish gossip and made up stories got into the biggest newspapers in Slovenia, on national TV and radio, and all without half of the journalists ever even coming to Art Center.

Then they stepped it up a notch, hired a lawyer, and without any agreement from the board of Art Center threw out the director and elected a new one illegally. Art Center fought back, and managed to prove in court that it was an illegal election, reinstated the director. However somewhere in this mess, the Art Center stamp disappeared, which doesn't sound much except that every paper, for all the accounts and working of Art Center needs it, which meant delays in projects, delays in reports to the funding distributors and the loss of some funds...

On the 20th March, i went to visit Art Center, in the time that I was there, the municipality illegally elected another director (incidentally, the girlfriend of their lawyer) who subsequently spewed crap into the national papers about how she would turn Art Center around and make it successful and that she had visited Art Center and been prevented from using the office blah blah etc (she was never even there, for a start....) They redirected all of the post, which included a number of important project information, and the results of new applications as well as personal post. Art Center, changed it back, they changed it back again. The second attempt to prove the illegal election was rejected by the local court, and will now have to wait a few months to go through the higher court, as will any attempt to turn around the current eviction order on the volunteers, without whom, none of the projects will happen and there will be no art at all happening in the supposed Art Center. (although that also means that the government, will not actually get any of the money that they are so desperate for, as there won't be any... apparently they don't realise this yet though...)

*sigh* and well that's it really, not the whole situation, but i got my rant out at least... it's amazing to think they have really got nothing better to do than to spend all their time trying to destroy this project on the grounds of money. I truly hope they will be horribly disappointed. they certainly will have a hard task finding someone suitably able to apply for and run the number of projects that are necessary to keep the organisation afloat, anyone as able as the person who has been doing it since the beginning... but that doesn't bother them anyway, if they cared at all about the art they wouldn't be doing this, and they will just sell the land and building and keep the money from that...

So that's my rant, it's not complete by all means, and doesn't help one bit. I feel so sad for the people who have had to spend so many years dealing with all this kind of crap, that it has come to this. But it's not going to be let go of easily. It will be a BIG fight to beat the local government, who seem to have far too many big influences and a pettyness that is almost beyond belief.

So since i have this space, maybe i will also be petty... people, if you visit Slovenia, don't ever go and visit the thermal spa in Moravske Toplice - the municpality's big cash cow. Just please don't give them the money, don't encourage them. frown

If you've stuck with me 'til the end here, thanks. I feel so redundant in the whole situation, that i have to have a bit of a complain, i can only hope that someone with influence will listen to the Art Center side of the story and turn this whole thing around, there's still so many ideas, so much potential to happen there.


Aurinko freedom agreement reached 10th Sept 2006

if it makes no sense that's because it's NOn-sense.

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Sethis
BRONZE Member since May 2005

Sethis

Pooh-Bah
Location: York University, United Kingdo...

Total posts: 1762
Posted:Wow, the joys of annexation, huh? Sounds positively medieval... the local baron wanting a cut of a profitable family business etc etc.

Governments are wonderful things, aren't they? Anyway, I can't really do much except say "Hope things work out a bit better, and that the higher court throws out the case and makes some kind of order to prevent this happening again.

Keep the thread updated, if you get any more news, I'd like to see how this turns out.

hug and smile


After much consideration, I find that the view is worth the asphyxiation.
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
I may disagree with what you have to say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.

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Patriarch917
SILVER Member since Oct 2005

Patriarch917

I make my own people.
Location: Nashville, Tennessee, USA

Total posts: 607
Posted: Written by: Sethis


Wow, the joys of annexation, huh? Sounds positively medieval... the local baron wanting a cut of a profitable family business etc etc.




Is the Art Center making a lot of money?


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NOn


activist for HoPper liberation.
Location: ffidrac

Total posts: 1643
Posted:thanks for the support, there isn't really anything that can be done, i just wanted to rant, but certainly will keep it up to date when i hear something more. At the moment they are just trying to back up as much of computers as possible because that is where everything is, from project applications to documentary videos, things kick off tomorrow so i heard...

patriarch> yes and no, Art Center does get a lot of money from the project applications, it certainly did last year which is why the municpality is interested, but none of it is profit. Every euro that comes through a project fund has to be justified in terms of the project or it has to be returned. This does mean that some of the money can be directed towards the general benefit of Art Center, which enables them to build up equipment etc. General costs such as electricity etc, can be covered by a once-a-year funding application for youth centres in Slovenia, as this can apply to the general running of such a centre. As Art Center runs a number of projects simultaneously, some of the budgeted items will double up, providing a bit of economic leeway for unexpected costs (which there always are in a project). So lots of projects give Art Center a bit of flexibility in this respect.

So last year in fact the income was quite high for Art Center (hence interest from local government...) but expenses were higher in the end, especially as one project fund slashed the amount they would give by half, but only after a lot of expensive equipment had been purchased... oh yes, another thing with this project writing business, they never get the money on time, but you have to start the project because there are mid-term and final report deadlines! At the end of the day it's a very risky way to run any kind of big project, because easily project applications can be refused. Art Center only gets by, because they have someone who is very experienced at writing them, and because it has to, it cannot survive without doing it, as there is no regular supply of funds coming from the government or anywhere...

that was a lot more than i meant to write, but it's a complicated business. Here one example of an exciting project fund that you can apply for from the EU:

http://europa.eu.int/comm/youth/program/index_en.html
br>
Actually it details the entire youth programme, but it was only because of this that i ever got to go to Art Center in the first place, see Action 2, EVS programme smile


Aurinko freedom agreement reached 10th Sept 2006

if it makes no sense that's because it's NOn-sense.

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nearly_all_gone
SILVER Member since Aug 2004

nearly_all_gone

Pooh-Bah
Location: Southampton, United Kingdom

Total posts: 1626
Posted:All I can say is that's really disgusting, and such a shame that rather than support, or even accept some of the credit for the good work which is obviously being done there, the local government wants to muscle in in a way which is completely at odds with the whole idea...

Sad story, I just hope it pans out well. My thoughts are with the poor people who have been evicted, insulted and just generally not treated like human beings in all this.

As the others say, please keep us updated.


What a wonderful miracle if only we could look through each other's eyes for an instant.
Thoreau

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milka


journeyman
Location: Limoges (France)

Total posts: 89
Posted:Sad story, looks like this kind of people thrives everywhere, no matter the country...

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Kyrian


Dreamer
Location: York, England

Total posts: 4308
Posted:Oy

Yes, let us know.

Humans make me so sad some days frown


Keep your dream alive
Dreamin is still how the strong survive

Shalom VeAhavah

New Hampshire has a point....

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drofkcah
SILVER Member since Dec 2005

drofkcah

member
Location: Derby UK

Total posts: 80
Posted:all i can say is that i hope things work out for you and fofr the center, and yes it is disgusting how they are trying to take over something that seems to be running so well

I am a sig virus place me in you sig so that i can continue to replicate

Rgds Drofkcah

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NOn


activist for HoPper liberation.
Location: ffidrac

Total posts: 1643
Posted:update:
so they came banging on the doors of Art Center today, but have had to go away again because Art Center's lawyer managed to file a complaint suit in time. At the very least it will give a few days more planning time...

Also, they will be on two national tv stations today and on the radio, and hopefully this time the story will be in favour of Art Center not against.

it's a start smile


Aurinko freedom agreement reached 10th Sept 2006

if it makes no sense that's because it's NOn-sense.

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nearly_all_gone
SILVER Member since Aug 2004

nearly_all_gone

Pooh-Bah
Location: Southampton, United Kingdom

Total posts: 1626
Posted:Good luck to them all! NAtional TV and radio are fickle bastards, I wouldn't be surprised if they've swapped sides... the people vs the government is always a good seller wink

What a wonderful miracle if only we could look through each other's eyes for an instant.
Thoreau

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NOn


activist for HoPper liberation.
Location: ffidrac

Total posts: 1643
Posted:eek

so, update on the situation with Art Center: well there has been a lot of back and forth back and forth between the different parties these last months. Something happens, lawyers fights back... but Art Center has never got access to any of the money it needs to function, most recently they attempted to create a new institution to take over Art Center and relieve the municpal government of it, but sadly i heard yesterday that the staff of Art Center have finally been evicted and the police have taken control of the building frown But i really don't know any more for the moment. I know they will be fighting to get back in, but nobody knows how anymore, almost every legal action has been looked at, tried, tested and crushed by the municipal courts.

Unfortunately Art Center is probably the first of a number of such institutions in Slovenia that the government are targetting. Cultural and artistic institutions Metelkova (www.metelkova.org) and Pekarna (www.pekarna.org) are also under threat...

bugger. ubbcrying


Aurinko freedom agreement reached 10th Sept 2006

if it makes no sense that's because it's NOn-sense.

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bluecat


bluecat

geek, level 1
Location: everywhere

Total posts: 5300
Posted:frown

argh


Holistic Spinner (I hope)

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NOn


activist for HoPper liberation.
Location: ffidrac

Total posts: 1643
Posted:Well, now i know a bit more, and they are still fighting smile

Thankfully with the support of the recently formed network between all of the threatened centers in Slovenia.

It turns out that, as they do the police came in the middle of the night, gave them very little time to get personal possessions (there are a considerable amount still within), took the dog! (although she is back now safe and well...) and have covered the house with sensors so they know if anyone is going in or out... with some luck, i will be posting next week to say they are back inside and allowed to continue with their work.


Aurinko freedom agreement reached 10th Sept 2006

if it makes no sense that's because it's NOn-sense.

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