• 26.6. - 11.7. 2015

Midnight-talk with the mayor


29. 06. 2014

One of the most devoted Lent visitors is the mayor of Maribor - Andrej Fištravec, who we managed to catch after a concert and discuss the future of the Festival with.

This year the Lent Festival found itself in an unenviable position and for a long time, it was not even clear if the Festival will take place or not. What does Lent mean for Maribor today?

On the one hand, the Festival is still a big opportunity for Maribor. On the other hand, it is also a big experience for the city. There is a lot of social knowledge gathered at this festival that could be used to the city's own advantage. I think we are not fully aware of the fact that many places envy this potential. Such a festival cannot be build by just putting together some bricks – special social skills are needed for that. 

What does the Festival mean to you personally?

For me, the Lent is a search for various surpluses and after each edition my soul is filled by them. For example, the opening night with Carmina Slovenica was an extraordinary experience. It might seem just a choir and we take it for granted, but it’s a choir of worldwide success that can get the audience going without looking at it. Twice during the concert I had the feeling that the next step for them would be to float in the air. This, of course, is not possible, but on the other hand it means that we’ve experienced something really special in the musical context. 

How to maintain such a varied, excellent program? 

It is precisely this that represents an additional problem for the city. An excellent corpus is hard to support, especially because the regulations at the time dictate that the municipality has to take care of it on its own. On the one hand, big city municipalities are not like smaller municipalities with a couple of thousand inhabitants and a small budget and to use for themselves. It is self-evident, that the whole Podravje region and broader region can enjoy the Festival every day. On the other hand, it is not self-evident that the whole region should provide financial support for such a festival. There are many performances of global dimensions that spread from this city. We are facing multi-layered challenges. 

Where to search for solutions? 

On the one hand, there are infrastructural solutions that are relatively simple, we just have to change our way of thinking. Instead of yearly investing into solutions that are then removed after the festival, we have to start investing a part of this money into infrastructure that would stay a part of the city. A good example is the new auditorium of the Puppet theatre which totally fits the Festival. After the Festival, when the people relax, we should start thinking about and preparing a budget for next year or the next few years. Narodni dom said that they have some good solutions for the Central stage ready - the space could be used for other purposes during the year. That’s seems like a reasonable and good solution. 

What’s the future of the Festival like? 

The future is in making minor improvements that might not be noticed by the public. The public might notice a new stage or venue, but in order for it to function, small developments are necessary. The Festival started in the bay of the Drava river and now we have the Central stage here and this year it is positioned a bit differently than last year, also the grandstands are smaller, but all this changes offer a better view on the stage. These are all small, unnoticeable details, but further improvements are necessary. 

How do you respond to Festival critics? 

I find it interesting, that the most critical people are those who don’t even visit the Festival. They still think visiting the Festival means taking a city stroll among the čevapčiči stands, but at the same time they miss the (culinary) diverse offer and experience the Festival is offering. The same applies to the events. This year, the Festival is celebrating its 22nd edition. Personally, I’m an optimist. 



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