Interview: Darko Brlek, Ljubljana Festival Bigger Than a City of Million Inhabitants

[from The Slovenia Times]

The man behind the capital’s most prominent cultural events foresees a bright future for Ljubljana’s rich and diverse cultural events.

Darko Brlek is the general manager of the Ljubljana Festival and the president of European Festivals Association. Last year’s Ljubljana Festival brought us several notable performances, such as those of the Munich Philharmonic and the London Symphony orchestra. This season will open with a spectacular open air performance of Mahler’s 8th symphony with over a thousand people on the stage (see the event guide). We will be also able to see Filharmonica della Scala with Daniel Harding, guitarist Al Di Meola, Teatro Espanol’s “Twilight of Gods”, directed by Slovenian Tomaž Pandur, and many more – and these are only in the first two weeks of the festival. The program ranges from classical to jazz, from avant-garde theatre to fine arts and is focused only at the best there is. As such, it attracts a varied and appreciative audience, some 80% of whom are from Slovenia. Next year, the Ljubljana Festival will celebrate its 60th anniversary. Continue reading

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Confusion with Slovakia – Opportunity for more nation-branding?

A big problem with Slovenian identity abroad is also that it is often being confused with Slovakia. The names of the two countries and even their flags look very similar. This mix-up has led to many public and ridiculous confusions, some of them involving first-line politicians such as George W. Bush and Silvio Berlusconi, who have called Slovenian presidents and prime ministers “Slovak” by mistake in front of dozens of journalists. On the Lonely Planet guide, the photos of Slovakia are in reality of Slovenia. The two countries are so accustomed to these many confusions that a diplomat once revealed that in an undisclosed Western European capital, the Slovenian embassy meets every month with their counterparts of the Slovak embassy to exchange wrongly-addressed mail. This is a serious problem for a country. It is like having one Nike and one Adidas with the same logo, same colors, same business, same look&feel, etc. Slovenia represents one of the best examples of countries that was and perhaps still is in need of nation branding and has to develope it good and systematically.

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Nation Branding – by Michael Schweda

Most important way to promote a country abroad and improve its visibility or image is by using the so called “nation-branding” technique. This is the case also for Slovenia. That this half-Alpine, half-Adriatic country decided to use more and more of “soft power” in managing its reputation becomes obvious with the clear strong messages and slogans delievered in recent years, such as “I Feel Slovenia”, “On the sunny side of the Alps” or the latest slogan from the qualifications of Slovenian football team on the World Cup last year, saying “Slovenia, small country with big balls”. But before getting any further into branding Slovenia let’s first take a quick look at the concept and history of nation-branding from the perspective of Michael Schweda.

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Germany Meets Slovenia: A Forum for Young Leaders (GMS) The next GMS week long Seminar will take place in Berlin from June 22nd – 28th, 2011


Program Director: Verena Orgler

Welcome to Germany Meets Slovenia: A Forum for Young Leaders.

The principal focus of “Germany Meets Slovenia: A Forum for Young Leaders” is to develop both a real and a virtual network of young leaders committed to building and sustaining lasting ties between Germany and Slovenia in the fields of politics, academia, science, media, business and culture, thereby strengthening the bilateral relationship. The network is supported through a diverse range of ongoing activity and is highlighted each year by a weeklong study tour for new members, which alternates between Slovenia and Germany.  Continue reading

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About Milan Kučan

by Felix Reimer (ICD – GMS Program Coordinator)

Most political revolutions produce their own heroes, from Poland’s Lech Wałęsa to the Czech “poet president” Václav Havel. In this exclusive group, few have travelled further ideologically than Slovenia’s Milan Kučan. Once a high-ranking Communist, he led his country into independence after having become its first democratically elected president. A political realist, on the eve of Slovenian independence he declared that “tonight, dreams are allowed,” only to quickly note that “tomorrow is a new day” on which the work of building a new nation would begin in earnest. Continue reading

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Revelling in Alpine Beauty: Experience the Slovenian Great Outdoors – by Michelle Karunaratne

Sports consist of an integral part of Slovenian culture; games and tournaments have been enjoyed by Slovenians since the Middle Ages. Much like in most of Europe, football is quite popular in Slovenia. The national team won the qualifying match to the European Championships held in 2000. Slovenia also participated in the 2002 and 2010 football World Cup. However Slovenian athletes are famous for their achievements in Alpine skiing, ski jumping, cross country skiing, mountain climbing rowing and white water kayaking. Continue reading

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When Slovenian Cinema Came of Age – by John O’ Leary (Program Coordinator at ICD)

It was the classic David versus Goliath story which propelled Slovenian Cinema into the stratosphere for one fleeting moment. Although the spotlight of international recognition was short-lived, the impact in Slovenia transcended artistic success to become an event of immense national pride for the burgeoning nation. Continue reading

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