AFTER Bratis- lava’s Old Town Hall (Stará radnica) re-opened in early summer after its two-year reconstruction, one important obligation remained. Before the hall had closed it was the site of a café called Radnička (a diminutive for town hall) that in addition to its good food and pleasant ambience employed disabled people. The café has now reopened to the delight of many guests.
The small space in the Old Town Hall had remained empty even after the summer tourist season came to an end, but on the weekend of September 30-October 2, a benefit event called Radničkine trhy (Radnička Markets) offered handcrafted goods produced by employees of sheltered workshops for the 11th time. A sheltered workshop is a non-commercial, subsidised enterprise that offers employment to handicapped people, usually of a manual or craft type. The market offered products from 35 sheltered workshops or social service houses and attracted many locals as well as the few remaining tourists, who were able to support these institutions by buying handcrafted products.
The market also featured an exhibition called A New Life for Old Things (Nový život starých vecí) showing how everyday items that normally are disposed of could be made into new and functional items.
“The combination of sheltered workshops with the idea of re-use is an especially lucky one as it shows how things that are normally dumped can be used once again; and it also gives disabled people a chance to be creative and produce useful items,” said Viera Záhorcová of the Inklúzia (Inclusion) civic association at a news conference.
A New Life for Old Things also served as the leitmotif for Radnička Markets, for an accompanying seminar and for a competition which took place that weekend. The competition was for the best product under the main theme of re-use, the best producer, and the best sheltered workshop or social service house, a facility that provides shelter and care for handicapped people. The winners were announced on October 1, followed by a cultural programme. A committee of experts, including Adriena Pekárová of the Slovenské Dizajn Centrum who was also curator of the exhibition, evaluated the competing items and chose the winners.
Although the exhibition lasted only until October 2 Záhorcová said the organisers hoped to find a more permanent place to exhibit the works of art by the disabled persons – most often mentally handicapped – and to show re-use techniques in practice and in its more sophisticated forms.
Though the Radnička café re-opened shortly after the weekend market its space is too small for such an exhibition. According to reports from satisfied guests, the servers in the café are very polite and greet every customer with a sincere smile, something which is not always common in Slovak restaurants.
31. Oct 2011 at 0:00 | Compiled by Zuzana Vilikovská