There is no predefined template according to which it is possible to dance the whole project of the European Youth Capital. Every city has its own story. That is what makes the challenge exciting. At this point, OPENS, within the existing system, makes its way towards the construction of the new system, for the innovative ideas to be completely applied.
However, Novi Sad is not on the road without a destination. We have mapped our process, dreamt of the project and imagined every following step.
“I visited Novi Sad in December to see how the preparations for the year in which you would be European Youth Capital were going, and I must say that the progress since then is amazing. I can see the most of it through the discussion with young people, with volunteers. I do not know what the city was like before receiving the title, but the energy of young people here, how they are excited and ready to move on and work on the projects is something that moved me at that moment”, Rita Jonušaite, Youth Policy Coordinator in European Youth Forum says.
And that is not a small thing. At this moment, Novi Sad is part of the network of cities – former and future European Youth Capitals – with one mutual goal, to hear the clearer voices of young people in those cities, and for young people to be included in all aspects of the cities’ lives.
“In the last ten years, when talking large numbers only, we sum more than eight thousand large events across Europe, we are the witnesses of large investments in sustainable youth structure, and more than ten thousand volunteers has joined, helped or proposed activities in the cities – Capitals. It seems that all of that has changed the images of those cities. This is ten years of changes of cities and young people’s lives, but also the society as a whole” Rita adds.
What is usually challenging when working on policies and mechanisms is that those are usually the things that are not visible immediately. Results and our three-year projects, but also the results of such mechanisms will be visible in the next five to ten years. 75,000 young people who will go through programs which are financed by and which exist because Novi Sad is the European Youth Capital. That is 10,000 young people at Blokstok festival, tens of thousands of young people at EXIT and OPENS Youth Fair, hundreds of young people at OPENS Colour Festival, 200 UN young delegates at BIMUN meetings, dozens of hours of work of the Youth Club but also other projects. Those are the young people who will, in the next five to ten years, lead different processes, think in advance and provide the effect of what we do now, on one hand. On other hand, those will be young people who will understand the system of political participation, the system of the inclusion of young people in decision-making processes, they will have the ability to transfer that energy and vision to other young people, those who will be active part of changes, and not just the observers and finally, those who understand that they have the chance to do something, if they believe in it. Therefore, the pledge for the future.
Also, that is the main reason why European Youth Forum cherishes the process of European Youth Capitals.
“During that year, the spotlight of the whole Europe is on the city – the capital which should show everyone what it does and what it plans to do about the increase of active participation of young people in all activities of the city. Thereby, we increase the capacity of youth organisations, organisations for young people, but also empower young people. We are in Brussels, as the organisation, but what happens at the local level is one of the amazing tools we can use to see the actual changes in the cities. Next year, the spotlight is on Novi Sad”, Nana Mo, Communication Head in European Youth Forum explains.
Until next year, there are several large OPENS events, and one of them will be the ceremony of the announcement of the European Youth Capital 2021. According to the plans currently developed at OPENS fantasy factory, the large ceremony, with live broadcasts from Serbian National Theatre will be a spectacle at which one of the top five cities will find out if they are European Youth Capital 2021.