Banská Bystrica and Saint Étienne want to be the European Capital of Culture

Banská Bystrica from central Slovakia and Saint Étienne from the La Loire region of southern France plan to submit a joint application for the title of European Capital of Culture for the year 2013, thus allying one French and one Slovak town to one another. The application is the result of a culture cooperation memorandum signed by Saint Étienne mayor Michel Thiolliére and Banská Bystrica mayor Ján Králik on August 1.

photo: Eric Smillie

Banská Bystrica from central Slovakia and Saint Étienne from the La Loire region of southern France plan to submit a joint application for the title of European Capital of Culture for the year 2013, thus allying one French and one Slovak town to one another. The application is the result of a culture cooperation memorandum signed by Saint Étienne mayor Michel Thiolliére and Banská Bystrica mayor Ján Králik on August 1.

"The European Union grants the title every year to a city to spread culture in connection with economic and social development. We want to arouse Saint Étienne citizens, to activate them, in order that they regain pride in their city via the realisation of this project," Thiolliére told the TASR newswire. He added that they based the project on the experience gained from the cooperation of theatrical and visual artists from Banská Bystrica.

At the moment, the Museum of Modern Art from Saint Étienne is presenting artworks from its collections in the State Gallery Banská Bystrica. The exhibition will last until the end of August.

The partnership of the two cities is a continuation of a four-year collaboration between the La Loire region and the Banská Bystrica region.

"Twenty years ago the La Loire region was in a situation similar to where we are now, when the region focused on heavy engineering and mining. Since the French region was also hit by an economic conversion, it searched for ways to move from a low level to one as high as possible. It focused on hi-tech technologies, education and international cooperation. Now it is on a world-class level in the optical industry and one of the leading French regions in textile design. There are a lot of things we can learn from them," said Vladimír Laššák, the head of the department for regional development, town planning and the environment of Banská Bystrica region.

He sees opportunities for cooperation particularly in tourism, engineering, the textile industry and medicine.

Banská Bystrica is cooperating with its French partner on an innovative strategy project co-financed by the European Commission.

On the basis of business missions, three transactions between Slovak and French partners have been carried out, so far.

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