THE CULTURAL exchange between Portugal and Slovakia is enduring, and currently includes a Portuguese studies course offered at Comenius University in Bratislava, and the efforts of the private Portuguese Institute to help spread the Portuguese language and culture.
However, the hard economic times currently being experienced by most European countries have also affected this sphere.
“Currently, we have just smaller achievements, small displays, but the times are not right for big expenditures in this area,” Portugal’s ambassador to Slovakia, Joao Luís Niza Pinheiro, told The Slovak Spectator.
“Moreover, Portugal and Slovakia are not neighbouring countries – which would enable us to bring here easily, coming back on the same day, a whole orchestra, for instance. As we are in an austerity regime, we have to comply also concerning culture. In 2011 and this year, culture has been at least constant; but previous to that, we undertook several initiatives in Slovakia – also to prove that we are present here culturally, that we are doing something. But there were more events organised in the past, and I hope there will be more of them in the future.”
Having said this, he stressed Portugal’s support for the teaching of Portuguese at Comenius University and, potentially, at the University of Economics, both in Bratislava, and its cooperation with the Portuguese Institute.
Niza Pinheiro also mentioned co-financing of the Young European Art (Jeune Création Européenne, or JCE) project, whose exhibition is currently showing at the Bratislava City Gallery, and the embassy’s participation in the 2011 Month of Photography project, in two places in Bratislava.
“We also supported the Portuguese section in the History of European Photography, the festival of Ibero-American Cinema, the contest of translators of Portuguese into Slovak, and also an exhibition concerning Christmas traditions in Portugal,” the ambassador said.
Famous Portuguese choreographer Rui Horta took part in the festival of contemporary dance Bratislava in Movement (BIM) that took place in June.
His international company Independent Works (including a young Slovak dancer, Lívia Balážová) on June 24 performed a multi-media work called Talk Show which marked the culmination of the festival.
Horta created a project called O Espaco do Tempo which is supported by the Portuguese Culture Ministry.
O Espaco do Tempo, as its website explains, is a trans-disciplinary arts organisation that supports various Portuguese and foreign contemporary performing artists.
Its headquarters are located in the Convento da Saudacao, a 15th-century monastery in Montemor-o-Novo in Portugal.
It offers residential stays for dancers and other artists from various countries.