The European Youth Engagement Network (EYE-Net) is a project co-funded by the European Union programme “Europe for Citizens Programme” and focused on the creative work of young people from several countries. Two European Capitals of Culture, Novi Sad 2022 and Kaunas 2022, included this project in their programmes.
In Novi Sad, the EYE-Net 2.0 festival is part of the “Schools of the Future” sub-programme, which is part of the cultural agenda of this European Capital of Culture 2022. It is, however, a travelling festival, integrating several entities from different countries and circulating over sixteen months in different European cities: Novi Sad (Serbia), Prague (Czech Republic), Sansepolcro (Italy), Maribor and Ptuj (Slovenia), Athens (Greece), Toulouse and Clermont-Ferrand (France), Berlin (Germany) and Kaunas (Lithuania).
Novi Sad hosted this event between the 5th and 8th of April, in different schools and cultural venues in the city, always with free entrance.
By turning schools into art spots and cultural institutions into centres of education, the EYE-Net project engaged young people who, through working with experienced artists as mentors, created original performances based on topics that are contemporary and relatable to the concerns of young people, such as Euroscepticism, solidarity, fake news, ecology, anti-fascism, economy, and others.
Participants from each country had the opportunity to choose the topic they wanted to address and to showcase their creations in two different moments and contexts: at a school and a cultural venue.
The Czech youth group presented the play “Marshal Konev’s Last Battle”, the French group the play “Turn Before the Ruins”, the German group the play “Why?”, the Greek group: “Unwritten Land”, the Italian group: “Do You Like Tomato Sauce?”, the Lithuanian group: “The Noise of the Silence”, the Slovenian group: “Some Like it Fake”, and the Serbian group presented the play: “Testament”. After each of the presentations, an interactive debate took place with the young international audience.
For our team, this trip aimed to strengthen bonds and promote dialogue with a current ECOC, which is a partner of Braga’s candidacy, being also an important opportunity for learning and finding inspiration for our own journey.
“EYE-Net 2.0 allowed me to understand the impact that a title of this magnitude can have in a city or region, and throughout Europe. If it was possible to involve 8 countries in just one project, one can imagine the potential of implementing an entire cultural and artistic programme. It is not just the territory that achieves the title, but all those who have the opportunity to cross that path. This is the real advantage of the European dimension of Melina Mercouri’s initiative: we all win.” – Cláudia Cibrão, Assistance and production in Braga’27.
In addition to Novi Sad, two other cities hold the title of European Capital of Culture this year: Kaunas (Lithuania) and Esch-sur-Alzette (Luxembourg).
Each year, the European Commission recommends two European cities from two different countries to host the title. Every three years, a third European city that is not part of the EU is also designated, which is the case of Novi Sad.