Stakeholder’s point of view: interview with Janez Krnc, BA in Ethnology and Professor of Theology Director of the Marianum Institute Veržej.
The DUO Centre in Veržej has a short but a diversified history, so we can speak about a wider regional recognisability?
Since 2006, the organisational unit DUO Centre – the arts and crafts centre –has been operating within the framework of the Marianum Institute Veržej. The educational centre for arts and crafts heritage of Eastern Slovenia passes such knowledge on to the younger generations through various workshops and research camps. Its main activities include the preservation of Slovenian cultural heritage, promotion of development of arts and crafts and professional development of new forms of education for handicraft professions. Since 2008, within the partnership between the Municipality of Veržej and the Marianum Institute Veržej and within the framework of the DUO Centre the Tourist Information Center (TIC Veržej) has been established with the purpose of facilitating cultural tourism, creating arts and crafts products and organizing public events and promotion.
Could the latter be understood also as the origin of the integration of cultural heritage and creative industry?
In the gallery in Veržej the DUO Centre as the initiator and the founder of the Craftsmen Association of North-eastern Slovenia introduces as much as fifty craftsmen, who are being joined by many others as we speak. Through the inclusion into the network of craftsmen, which is being formed in our centre, we are promoting the offer of every individual and group. Because we are striving towards the highest possible quality and artistic value of products, we nurture a special attitude towards products labelled “Rokodelstvo Art & Craft Slovenija”. This way extensive cultural heritage of the craftsmanship of the Pomurje region crosses from the traditional average to the area of creative industry through the creativity of craftsmen and modern designers.
How do visitors of Marianum respond to your offer of products and educational workshops?
A genuine presentation of craftwork is taking place in craft workshops. For example, blacksmith’s workshop and pottery workshop are functionally equipped and allow the participants to come into contact with natural materials and turn them into useful products under the vigilant eye of craftsmen. But we also carry out other occasional workshops (straw-plaiting, bastweaving, wicker-plaiting, making of gingerbread hearts, felting, and what not). Since 2011 the Ecomuseum has also established an open documentation of craftsmanship, which is further complemented and will in the future quench the thirst of everyone eager to learn more about traditional techniques and skills in processing raw materials. As of this year the Ecomuseum also houses a professional library for crafts and tourism, which supports research work and also facilitates the recognisability of Pomurje among tourists, who visit north-eastern Slovenia for a shorter or longer period of time. All these activities have been warmly welcomed by visitors, whose number is also visibly increasing.
What would you propose for tighter integration of culture, tourism and creative industry?
Through project activities the DUO Centre keeps realizing its goals at faster pace – to introduce the craftsmanship of Pomurje to the general public, offer it as an attractive tourist addition, and above all to educate the young people in the spirit of rich cultural heritage. As a result of this concept young craftsmen seem to develop a more and more creative attitude towards work and towards arts and crafts products, which may become a part of the creative industry on a long term. We attempt to join together all three segments (culture – ecomuseum, tourism – TIC, and craft – shop) and to look for synergy effects – which is the concept that is gaining its full shape thanks to the DUO Centre.
What would you like to convey or propose to local authorities?
Ever since the establishment the Marianum Institute Veržej has attempted to welcome any cooperation, which is confirmed by the projects we are implementing. At the foreground, of course, is the Municipality of Veržej that has been supporting us and our ideas. From the very beginning we have tightly cooperated with the Pomurje Museum Murska Sobota, which supported our professional aspects. Together we can do more and we can do it better. It is important for the local community to recognize the potentials in the environment and integrate them and give them the opportunity to be creative. Private public partnership can be a great contribution to the local community, if relations among people are honest and oriented towards the benefits of all.