22 Sep 2020, 15:46 PM

STA, 22 September 2020 - The City of Women (Mesto Žensk) international festival of contemporary arts will begin in Ljubljana on Tuesday, running this year in a stretched out format until 12 October. It will feature over 80 women artists, lecturers, curators and activists.

Addressing the press at the outset of the festival, artistic director Teja Reba raised the question of whether talking about gender equality is suitable in a time when the world is facing a pandemic, climate change, growing wealth disparity, unbridled nationalism and bodies in the Mediterranean.

"Yes, more then ever before," Reba asserted, urging everybody "not to stay silent" and join the festival's efforts.

The City of Women 2020 is opening with the launch of an exhibition named The Unforgettable. It features posters around the city of 50 Slovenian Women Who Pushed the Boundaries of Our World.

The exhibition is named after a book that was published on the occasion and will also be discussed at a symposium called 8 Mach Every day and scheduled on 1 October. The focus will be on securing equal opportunities for young people during education and later on in life.

The opening day will moreover be marked by the first screening in a segment dedicated to actress Delphine Seyrig. One programme section is named Disobedient Muses and will look at the video production of the eponymous collective that Seyrig was a part of.

Gender Equality - A Means to Succeeding in Achieving the Seventeen UNESCO Sustainable Development Goals is the title of an international conference that is scheduled for Friday, while the ŠKUC Gallery will feature from 8 October a group exhibition presenting the exploration of the historical and social aspects of cosmetics as a material culture.

Also on the programme is an exploration of the relations between oppressors, systems of persecution and precarity led by the Dublin-based artists Bernie O'Reilly and Maud Hendricks in cooperation with six women based in Slovenia. Inspired by Samuel Beckett's Catastrophe, it is scheduled for 30 September at the Old Powerhouse.

This far from exhausts the list of events, although the performance segment is scaled down this year due to coronavirus restrictions. Two premieres are scheduled nonetheless - Picture Perfect by Simona Semenič and the final part of Nataša Živkovič's trilogy Dodgeball.


From the festival's Insagram

Meanwhile, cooperating with the 8th March Institute, this year's City of Women will also feature the #METOO IN CULTURE campaign, which aims to highlight sexual harassment in the culture sector.

You can see the full programme of events on the official City or Women 2020 website, and also follow on Facebook

21 Sep 2020, 12:50 PM

STA, 18 September 2020 - Kino Šiška, one of the main music venues in Ljubljana, will fuse online and on-site concerts in the new season due to precautionary measures such as visitor caps. The centre has entered into a partnership with the online platform DICE to deliver livestreams of performances, mostly by Slovenian musicians.

The move comes come in the wake of strict anti-corona restrictions: due to physical distancing rules the number of visitors has been capped at 150 persons in the Kino Šiška main hall, which usually fits 1,000 visitors.

The centre has some experience with interactive livestreamed projects and has been spurred on to provide a new concert platform by the results of a poll exploring alternative ways of holding cultural events.

As of 1 October, concerts at the Katedrala Hall will be given for up to 150 persons, whereas livestreams will come with no restrictions. They will not be free of charge, though, since artists should be paid fair and square for online concerts too, especially in the current circumstances, Kino Šiška said.

Cooperation with DICE, a provider of online concerts by musicians such as Nick Cave, Laura Marling in Björk, will give the project an international dimension and help promote Slovenian performers, who will take centre stage.

On 1 October, zalagasper will lift the curtain on the new season. The duo represented Slovenia at the Eurovision Song Contest 2019 and has been topping the INES chart of up-and-coming musicians in the EU for the second month in a row.

See what’s on at Kino Siška, with the page for the hybrid/hibrid events here

21 Sep 2020, 11:45 AM

STA, 17 September 2020 - Three economists agreed at a discussion on the budget fund cuts for culture that the sector in Slovenia is in an unenviable situation, and that some systemic solutions could be conceived during the coronavirus crisis, which may also be an opportunity for the sector.

Thursday's discussion, hosted by the Asociacija association of NGOs and individuals in culture, also discussed measures that the culture sector would need to continue to function and develop.

Bogomir Kovač of the Ljubljana School of Business and Economics noted that the supplementary budget provided more funds to the majority of departments, but not for culture, adding that this should be perceived from the economic and political aspects.

From the former, he sees the approach as better than during the 2008 economic crisis, when public borrowing and balanced budgets was one of the main tools for fighting recession.

The way the EU member states are being aided now is different, and there is much more wiggle room to cover deficits, so the supplementary budget is more technical than "economically and politically dramatic."

For Kovač, the culture sector being one of the rare sectors whose funds are being taken away by the government is a very political and non-economic move, "a kind of political punishing of culture".

His colleague Andrej Srakar agreed that culture is being punished and that the new budget is not being particularly strategic, and Marko Jaklič drew parallels with science, which has also been facing fund cuts in recent years.

The economists believe that production is going to suffer the brunt of the EUR 8 million cut for culture, as it is easiest to make cuts there.

Jaklič said that the funds were being taken away under the pretence that certain institutions were not able to operate, which he sees as a wrong approach. Smart countries have not cut budgets for science and culture, he added.

"The mission of culture is to put us in front of a mirror, unless we want to destroy it," said Jaklič, who thinks that Slovenian society does not understand yet that culture is also related to competitiveness of a country's companies.

The economists also noted that the attitude to culture had also shown in the anti-corona legislative packages, which did not cover the culture sector.

Kovač said that no Slovenian government saw an opportunity in culture, and added that if Slovenia wanted to build on its "political identity, which is cultural identity", culture should be in the core of political and economic strategies.

He believes that it would simply not work without a clear political decision that culture is important, and costs and losses are piling up during the crisis and there will also be a group of people "who have been pushed into an impossible position."

Srakar has the feeling that peace and status quo is being attempted to be maintained in culture, while there are several measures which are available but are not implemented, such as the share for culture in public investments and tax breaks for investors.

The economists agreed that culture should be discussed extensively because of its various forms which require different approaches. An alternative option is for the culture sector to propose changes on its own and try to put them into law.

16 Sep 2020, 13:14 PM

STA, 15 September 2020 - The Slovenian music industry, one of the businesses worst hit by Covid-19, has come up with a set of proposals it wants the government to include in its next anti-corona package. Until all restrictions applying to concerts are lifted and beyond, the Music Industry Coalition ad-hoc group wants wage subsidies and a monthly basic income.

Events such as concerts are limited to 50 to 500 people while all strict recommendations must be respected as well, including social distancing.

There is also a requirement of an eight-metre distance between performers and the audience.

However, the group argues singing is no riskier than talking when it comes to contracting the virus, labelling the eight-metre measure "completely incomprehensible".

Until all the restrictions are lifted and for another three months after that, the group, set up in mid-August, proposes exemption from payment of social security contributions for the self-employed and 700 euro in monthly basic income.

For workers on permanent employment contracts, the state should pay all contributions and taxes, while furloughed workers should have their pay subsidised.

The proposals were drafted with the help of a survey which tried to find the extent to which coronavirus restrictions had affected the music and events industries.

The survey has shown that more than 90% of the respondents have had their income more than halved compared to last year, a condition for state aid in previous anti-corona legislation.

It has also shown that 57% of the industry's workers, among them many self-employed musicians, have been left without any aid since 1 June.

The Coalition estimates the music industry in Slovenia employs around 6,000 people, while the figure for the entire events industry is around 15,000.

Based of the information from concert organisers and from Eventim, which has a 50% share in ticket sales, the loss of income from concerts was estimated at EUR 150-180 million.

Matija Prezelj from the GIZ KOS association of concert organisers told the STA the vast majority of the industry had been left out of the first four stimulus packages.

However, the Economy Ministry has now acknowledged the problems and would propose measures drafted on the basis of the group's proposals be included in the new legislation, he said.

The group also proposes a timeline to gradually lift restrictive measures at concerts so that live events could run without any restrictions in the second half of 2021.

The Music Industry Coalition brings together independent musicians, their trade union and several other associations from the music and events industries, from artists to organisers and support staff.

11 Sep 2020, 14:23 PM

STA, 11 September 2020 - The young woman who cut off her hand at the beginning of last year to claim insurance, and her partner, who presumably put her up to it, were found guilty of insurance fraud at the Ljubljana District Court on Friday. They were given two and three years in prison, respectively.

Julija Adlešič and her partner Sebastien Abramov attracted a lot of media attention during the trial, including by allegedly getting engaged.

Abramov is also being tried as the suspected murderer of Sara Veber, who was his girlfriend at the time of her death in 2015 in what Abramov claims was a shooting accident.

He has been in custody throughout the trial, while Adlešič was sent into house arrest in May as the court found the chance of a repeat offence has decreased.

Abramov will remain in custody until the verdict becomes final, judge Marjeta Dvornik said, while Adlešič will no longer be in house arrest.

Both claimed throughout the trial they were innocent, and that Adlešič cut off her hand by accident while sawing off tree branches.

Abramov's father, Gorazd Colarič, who was accused of taking part in the scheme along with his wife, was also found guilty and got a one-year suspended sentence on two-year probation. Abramov's mother Tinka Huskić Colarič was found not guilty.

"We believe the sentences are fair and appropriate, and will serve their purpose," the judge said today, noting that the ruling had been made based on evidence and not anyone's appearances.

Adlešič attended the court hearings in flashy outfits, with the defence claiming that a young woman wanting to look attractive was not capable of causing such harm to her body on purpose.

Abramov made life and accident insurance policies for Adlešič with five insurance companies at the end of 2018. In January 2019, when the insurance was valid and the first instalments paid, Adlešič cut off her left hand just above the wrist with a circular saw at Colarič's home.

Only days later, the four suspects filed damages claims with the five insurance companies. But they did not receive any money, as police already started investigating the case.

If the police had not interfered, Adlešič would have received EUR 1.2m in damages and several hundred thousand euro in monthly rent.

The panel of judges agreed that the prosecution's case was solid and that the evidence against the three prove their guilt beyond reasonable doubt.

Huskić Colarič was found not guilty because of insufficient evidence.

The defence announced an appeal today, with Abramov's lawyer Mitja Pavčič speaking of "human rights violations". He said that despite being found guilty his client was "extremely pleased that his mother was found not guilty and that Julija was released from house arrest, but he is disappointed with the conviction."

Adlešič's lawyer, Boris Grobelnik, said his client was happy that she was no longer in house arrest. He said the measure was disproportionate, having lasted 18 months, given that there were no danger she would repeat the offence.

Colarič's lawyer Peter Prus Pipuš said the appeal would focus on the fact that the charges against his client were aggravated during the trial, which ran contrary to the principle that the indictment must not be changed to the damage of the defendant during a court procedure.

The prosecution had demanded four years and six months for Adlešič, five years for Abramov, four for Huskić Colarič and one year for Colarič.

11 Sep 2020, 12:06 PM

STA, 10 September 2020 - Following the success of the Vinarium observation tower in Lendava, Slovenia seems to be caught in a tower craze. But not everyone seems to like the idea of having a giant tower in the city to attract visitors. Locals in Rogaška Slatina oppose the idea so much that they have launched a referendum initiative against the project.

After several Slovenian towns were inspired by the Lendava success story and built observation towers, including the ski resort Rogla and the spa resort Podčetrek, Rogaška Slatina, a spa town with a long tradition of tourism, is finalising plans for a huge tower to showcase its glass making heritage.

The planned 106-metre tower would be one of the tallest buildings in the country; only the smokestacks of the Trbovlje, Šoštanj and Ljubljana power plants, and the cooling tower of the Šoštanj power plant would be taller, according to Pirate Party councillor Gorazd Knific.

rogaska slatina tower 01.jpg

Tickets would be sold on the ground floor, where a souvenir shop and toilets would be located. Then visitors would take either a panoramic or a regular elevator to get to the top, where they would find a coffee shop and a terrace to enjoy the view.

But some locals oppose the project, finding it overblown for the town. They have even launched a referendum initiative against the project, which they feel would mar the image of their town.

According to the referendum initiator, Eva Žagajner, the huge tower is not in line with the municipal strategy of developing boutique tourism, as it would attract mostly one-day visitors.

Raising the issue of the costs of the project, which rose from the initial EUR 2.1 million to EUR 3.2 million, she said it was not even clear how many tourists the tower would attract.

Žagajner is also bothered by the fact that the tower would be built in the basin and not on a hill. She said referendum supporters, which include municipal committees of the Social Democrats, the Pirate Party and Good State, believe the municipality should instead revive and renovate observation towers on near-by hills.

The initiative needs to collect some 500 signatures until 15 October for the referendum to be held.

The municipality has already paid EUR 300,000 for the land where the tower is to be built and added an overhead walkway to the project. The 182-metre walkway is why the project cost has ballooned.

The government has already decided to allocate EUR 1.2 million from the Environment Fund for the walkway, while Rogaška Slatina is to chip in EUR 285,000. A private partner has also joined the project.

The construction of the walkway is to start next year.

10 Sep 2020, 17:30 PM

STA, 10 September 2020  - The parliamentary Health Committee unanimously endorsed on Thursday amendments to the act on communicable diseases under which unvaccinated children would be barred from public or publicly financed kindergartens. The committee however threw out a provision on mandatory vaccination against seasonal flu for health workers.

The bill had been proposed by a group of 38 MPs from the ranks of three coalition parties, the Modern Centre Party (SMC), Democrats (SDS) and Pensioners' Party (DeSUS).

The bill is fast-tracked and all the additional amendments were proposed by MPs of the initiator parties. It would require all children who enrol in public kindergartens or private kindergartens co-financed by the state to get mandatory vaccination.

The same rule would apply to students of secondary and tertiary schools teaching health, education and social security courses.

Today's additional amendments specify that mandatory vaccination includes shots against measles, mumps and rubella.

The restrictions would not be imposed on children who cannot get vaccinated due to health reasons. Today, such an exemption was further specified by requiring that health records indicating the reason for missing out on vaccination would have to be submitted.

Unvaccinated children would still be allowed to enrol in primary school since primary education is mandatory under the law.

In August, when the bill was proposed, the Health Ministry said the measure was meant to prevent any unwarranted avoidance of vaccination and to protect citizens.

SMC MP Branislav Rajić, the first signatory of the proposal, said today that the provision that would require all those working in public health and social institutions to get vaccinated against seasonal influenza had been thrown out since experts and the government thought the measure was too excessive.

He nevertheless urged the government and the ZZZS health fund to provide free-of-charge flu vaccination for such workers.

Tina Bregant, the ministry's state secretary, said today that the extra amendments had made the proposal even more efficient, highlighting that the bill aimed to increase the rate of immunisation.

The National Institute of Public Health (NIJZ), Medical Chamber as well as representatives of paediatricians have expressed support for the proposed changes.

On the other hand, Jani Möderndorfer, an MP of the opposition Marjan Šarec List (LMŠ), was critical of the scrapping of the provision under which health and social workers would be obliged to get a flu shot. Experts, the ministry and coalition "do not offer any expert reason for that; all they talk about is how the measure is excessive," he said.

Rajić reiterated that the move followed the guidelines of experts. "My personal view is that a health worker who does not get a vaccine is like a visually-impaired school bus driver who does not want to wear glasses," he added.

Meanwhile, the Social Democrats (SD), New Slovenia (NSi) and the Left called for a strategy that would raise awareness about the importance of vaccination.

01 Sep 2020, 13:42 PM

STA, 1 September 2020 - For almost 191,000 primary and secondary school students in Slovenia, and their almost 18,000 teachers, the new school year will start on Tuesday the same way the previous school year ended: in-class but with many precautions to prevent the spread of coronavirus, including the wearing of face masks in common areas.

It came as a relief for many parents last week when the government decided that the school year should start in-class rather than remotely, even if the number of new coronavirus cases remains fairly high.

Students will not have to wear masks in class either, but the National Institute of Public Health has recommended that students of all ages wear masks when mixing in common areas, an upgrade of the earlier recommendation that only students 12 and older wear masks.

Schools are advised to follow a number of other precautions, including regular use of hand sanitizer, frequent hand washing, ventilation of classrooms, and keeping a safe distance whenever possible.

To what extent individual schools can follow these recommendations depends largely on school size and architecture. Large schools, for example, can simply not do the recommended distances in classrooms because there are too many children per class, a recommendation that is easier to follow for smaller schools with fewer students.

Education Minister Simona Kustec has said schools should follow the recommendations to the best of their abilities, but stressed that each school should use discretion in adapting the recommendations to the situation on the ground.

"Schools have my full confidence that they will do their best both in prevention and in terms of the teaching process," she has told the STA.

The overarching aim is to conduct as much of the teaching process normally, which means that if a student is confirmed to have coronavirus, the entire class is quarantined while the rest of the school continues instruction in-class.

The decision whether to step up precautionary measures or close schools will depend on the statistics: the daily and weekly number of infections, and the demographic profile of the infected persons, according to Kustec.

Quarantined students will be taught remotely, and the school system is seen as well prepared even if schools should have to close again like they did in spring.

Arnes, a public body which provides internet access to schools and other tools for remote teaching, has upgraded its infrastructure since the first wave of the epidemic.

Using additional state funding, the organisation has increased the capacity of its entire network and upgraded tools such as online classrooms and videoconferencing.

There is also money to buy up to 4,000 computers for students and teachers who do not have their own devices, and during the summer holiday dozens of online courses were organised to teach teachers how to use online tools in class and remotely.

As school starts, experts warn kids can become major vectors of infection

STA, 1 September 2020 - Children have not been considered a major factor in the spread of coronavirus, and they rarely develop severe symptoms. As school starts in-class for all students in Slovenia, experts warn that there is potential for children to not only spread coronavirus but become primary sources of infection in the family.

Mateja Logar, an infectologist at the UKC Ljubljana's clinic for communicable diseases, said on Tuesday that studies conducted after schools started to reopen in late spring shed new light on the role of children in the spread of coronavirus.

While children had initially not been considered a major source of infections, more recent studies have shown that older children and teenagers are much more likely to spread the disease.

"We have to realise that it is possible children develop only mild symptoms but infect other family members," she said.

The latest findings are probably a result of the fact that schools closed around the world when coronavirus first hit, which is why children were not a major factor in the spread.

But as schools reopened more data and more studies poured in showing that "children do get sick as well, it is only that they have different symptoms than adults."

The younger children are, the less specific their symptoms. While the most common symptoms in adults are fever and cough, children tend to develop digestive problems such as diarrhoea or vomiting.

Under the current guidelines for schools, children are not required to wear masks in class but have to put them on while in common areas. Social distancing, frequent hand washing, use of hand sanitizer and ventilation of classrooms is advised.

Logar said it was important that these guidelines be followed as much as possible, in particular since coronavirus spreads much more easily indoor than outdoors.

30 Aug 2020, 10:11 AM

STA, 28 August 2020 - Slovenia's health authorities have recommended that all primary school children wear face masks in corridors and shared premises as the new school year starts next week. The relevant minister has suggested that the government will respect any new recommendations the National Public Health Institute (NIJZ) may give.

The most recent recommendation from the NIJZ is an upgrade to the earlier recommendation that only students of the age of 12 and older were to wear face masks in shared premises in school.

The NIJZ has decided for the move because "the average daily number of confirmed cases in local transfer in the last seven days in the country exceeded 20", says Friday's press release.

It has also recommended that children up to and including the age of five do not use masks in shared premises in kindergartens, and that children aged 6-11 use them in healthcare institutions and in public transportation.

Children aged 12 and older should use face masks in accordance with the government ordinances valid for adults.

The NIJZ told the STA that these were recommendations for next week, and that instructions for the use of masks in schools would from now on be made weekly based on the epidemiological risk assessment.

Education Minister Simona Kustec told the STA earlier that as the epidemiological situation had deteriorated somewhat on Thursday, she would not be surprised if the NIJZ provided additional guidelines before the start of the new year. "If it does, we will simply need to respect them," she added.

The ministry has already informed primary schools and music schools about the new recommendations.

28 Aug 2020, 09:31 AM

STA, 27 August 2020 - Slovenian primary and secondary school students will start the new school year in classrooms on 1 September, the government decided on Thursday after assessing the current epidemiological situation.

The decision means all students will start instruction in class, though they will have to observe guidelines issued by the National Institute of Public Health (NIJZ).

Schools and teachers are ready, Education Minister Simona Kustec told the press after the government session.

Slovenia has had several possible scenarios for return to school depending on the extent of the coronavirus epidemic and the one confirmed now is known as model B.

It involves social distancing for pupils from different classes, regular washing of hands and regular ventilation of classrooms.

Classes are recommended to be divided into smaller groups, if possible.

Face masks will not be obligatory in classroom for pupils, whereas teachers will have to wear them if an adequate distance could not be maintained.

25 Aug 2020, 21:34 PM

The University of Ljubljana (Univerza v Ljubljani) has issued a warning that a number of individuals, the majority from India, have been sent fake letters of acceptance, along with a request for tuition to be paid.

If you did not apply to the University of Ljubljana, then any acceptance letter you receive is false. If you did apply but the letter you received seems suspicious, then you’re advised to look out for these four warning signs:

  • Does the letter ask you to send money to certain account? The University never sends letters that ask this.
  • Is the name of the faculty or academy correct? There’s a list of the official names here if you are not sure.
  • Are any email addresses for the University correct? All official email addresses have the suffix
  • Is the letter signed by Vice-Dean Gabor Janos Vamos? The University has Vice-Rectors, and no Janos Vamos works there.

The University also provides two examples of false letters, PDF form (False letter 1; False letter 2).

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