The European Capital of Culture program was brought to life by Melina Mercouri (RIP) – famous actress and former minstress of culture in Greece – with the mission to promote and embrace common culture in the world. Henceforward, nominations of all past cities as ECC’s proved to be, not only a delicious moment of encashing star-spangled €€€, yet also as a long-term improvement of cultural scene, touristic attractiveness, economic situation and public image.
Once an industrial power, later a shadow of its old self, Rijeka was brought back on the map just because of its cultural developement. A city with more or less 1,30,000 inhabitans owns a theatre with opera and ballet (Hrvatsko narodno kazalište Ivana pl. Zajca) which changed its name to “Croatian LGBT Theatre” on Croatia’s Independence Day.
It has a cinema dedicated to art-movies and the slogan “Proud to be antiplex!” explains why they compare it with cinéma parisien. Furthermore there is a library that teaches kids how to use 3D printers, a International Festival of Small Theatres (of which the capacity for its audience is long since exceeded). World-famous actor Rade Šerbedžija (Eyes Wide Shut) runs acting studies in town and musicians like Let 3, Jonathan and Nord belong to a class of musicians known beyond croatian borders. People like Slaven Tolj and Oliver Frljić (deutsch). This city has a soul. This city has balls.