The jubilee 70th Dubrovnik Summer Festival has recently ended and we caught up with the Mayor of Dubrovnik, Mato Frankovic, to find his impressions after what appears to be another successful season. The Dubrovnik Summer festival might well be the jewel in the crown of Dubrovnik’s cultural calendar but there are also other cultural questions that need addressing.
Upon the completion of the 70th Dubrovnik Summer Festival one can hear from the artists that the City's attitude towards the festival is much better than before?
It's nice to hear from the artists that the relationship of the city, or rather this city administration, is much better than before. Culture is an extremely important part of our city's life, and the Summer Festival, as a music and stage festival with seven decades of tradition, is one of our powerful symbols, so we continue to support our festival with equal fervour. And not only them, but also other cultural institutions in the City of Dubrovnik.
In your speech during the opening of the festival you mentioned that the festival was facing a financial dilemma, how can we protect the festival from the syndrome of cashing the cash?
My thoughts on “chasing after the money” in my opening speech of the Jubilee Festival were not primarily about culture or the festival. The speed of life, the desire to accumulate material wealth and the alienation from real values, unfortunately, are the determinants of the modern way of life, and this is especially evident in our city because of the great influence of tourism and the opportunity for relatively fast profit. Real values are being lost and focus is shifting from the essentials. That was my criticism. It has been largely criticized and addressed to the culture, but more so in terms of the trend of relying on instant fame and provocation as a way of expression. This was a general observation, not a criticism addressed to today's leadership of the festival. My words were a call for thought, an appeal for sobriety. I think it's time to open our eyes. And the biggest critics have to admit to us that some things have moved for the better. Not everything is perfect, but let's keep going. We will return the measure to every segment of public life and action. Many think this is possible overnight, but it is not. After a decade of carelessness, nothing will happen overnight.
Why did the City decide to increase the financial allocation for the festival for next year?
The City, as the owner of its public cultural institution, must provide the foundation for its activities and its development, of course with other patrons and sponsors. Finance is an important segment of every festival, including the Dubrovnik Summer Festival. These are financially profitable and logistically demanding projects. Very often we like to compare ourselves with others, especially with the world's leading cultural festivals. If we take, for example, the Salzburg Summer Festival, which are one of the strongest cultural festivals, not only in Europe but in the world, then it must be clear to everyone that their budget is 60 million Euros, while Dubrovnik only spent 3.5 million Kuna until a year ago. Therefore, the comparison is clear, and therefore the need for a stronger budget.
The city government is taking concrete steps to build a concert hall. At least the location is known?
In cooperation with the University of Zagreb, we have defined the location. Therefore, the hall would be located next to the Inter University Centre (IUC), in an area partly owned by the IUC and partly owned by the City of Dubrovnik. We expect that in September we will have talks with Rector Damir Boras, and after that we will start drafting the conceptual project.
Are you satisfied with how much the tourism industry is involved in the logistics of the festival?
The Dubrovnik Summer Festival is our brand and I think that the potential is underutilized. I come from tourism and I think we have a lot of room for progress. I reiterate my thesis on corporate social responsibility and ask the question - is the tourism industry participating enough in terms of financing the Summer Festival. Someone will say it's just a "waste of money", however, I don't think it is. Culture is an important part of the identity of the people and it is something that we must nurture and promote.