The West University of Timișoara – a landmark of cultural development in the Banat region
As a comprehensive academic institution, the role of the West University of Timișoara (WUT) in the capital city of the Banat is to enable cultural development in the region. This process takes place in partnership and through shared strategies with the main stakeholders on the local and national level.
Ever since 2016, when Timișoara was nominated as future European Capital of Culture in 2021, together with Novi Sad (Serbia) and Elefsina (Greece), and as a member of the “Timișoara – European Capital of Culture” Association (active since 2011), WUT has intensified its efforts to promote European values and its involvement in cultural projects with a wide social impact. One such project that WUT has joined is the “Cultural Leadership” Summer School (https://www.facebook.com /LeadershipCulturalbyUVT/). Its motto is “Through culture we invest in the future!” and it consists of lectures and workshops given by internationally renowned specialists. Its aim is to take a first step towards training leaders capable of creating and implementing impactful cultural projects. Also within the “Timișoara – European Capital of Culture” Association and through the Faculty of Arts and Design, WUT has contributed to the shaping of the Cultural Strategy of the City of Timișoara for the period 2014-2024, which outlined the necessary steps towards the achievement of the proposed shared vision (https://timisoara2021.ro/document/view/7/Printed_Cultural_Strategy.pdf).
The specialists working at the West University of Timișoara contribute actively to the cultural life of the city. As a result of their shared interest in the strategy for the cultural development of Timișoara, WUT and the other institutions partnering in the “Timișoara 2021 – European Capital of Culture” have signed a collaboration agreement with the “Timișoara – European Capital of Culture” Association. The agreement has established various means of cooperation meant to support the Association’s efforts.
In the public consciousness of the inhabitants of Timișoara, 2021 was a year that should have been dedicated to the European Capital of Culture programme. However, among the many consequences of the Coronavirus pandemic was also the delay until 2023 of the event calendar, implicitly of the title of Capital of Culture. In order to contribute to a much-needed regeneration of cultural energy for 2023, the West University of Timișoara is becoming an increasingly open cultural and artistic centre. Thus, in the period leading up to the European cultural year of 2023, the university is organising several events, debates, and activities meant to integrate cultural values, all aiming to bring back into a communal space as many of the creative forces and significant names of the musical, literary, and performance arts world as possible.
In the near future, WUT is preparing to bring art to unconventional spaces for audiences otherwise more difficult to reach. Some examples in this respect are the “FUTURIS” project, a biennial of multimedia art combined with technology, and “DESIGN-ECO-ART”, which envisages the creation of art installations in the green spaces of Timișoara and other cities. “ArtAI”, which aims to be a future interdisciplinary hub for the development of artistic areas infused by AI (artificial intelligence), VR (virtual reality) and AR (augmented reality), as well as “Open Studios”, a series of open workshops, are but some landmarks in a process by the end of which we trust that Timișoara will be worthy of the opportunity to be a European Capital of Culture.
This title has long-term consequences, not only for the city and the region, but for the West University of Timișoara as well, which will continue to widen the range of its activities. A new concept – “At WUT, Culture is Capital” – has been created in order to strengthen the reality of a university open towards the community. This has led to a series of cultural events bringing together notable personalities from the cultural and social sphere, such as writers, diplomats and specialists in public policies.
One of the major strengths of WUT is its ability to reinvent itself and adapt to constantly changing circumstances. Another strength is its flexibility, which is rooted in the awareness of new needs to be fulfilled. The process of development is taking place in a unique paradigm, defined by a cosmopolitan city and by the history and geography of the region. In the capital city of the Banat, all these come together in what we could describe as the main guideline of our activity, namely that at WUT culture is capital!
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