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As ERIAC: European Roma Institute for Arts and Culture celebrated its first birthday in 2018, ERIAC learned of the interest of the Serbian Government in opening a branch office advocating and representing the ERIAC cause in Serbia, and joining the international political, social and cultural alliance for the recognition of Roma leadership, and arts and culture. Meetings between Aleksandar Vučić, President of Serbia, and Zeljko Jovanović, ERIAC Board Chair, commenced in 2018, in relation to the contribution of the Serbian government to the ERIAC mission.
The objective of opening new ERIAC branches is to extend – through the respect of the ERIAC founding principles – the single and unique mandate of ERIAC to the branch country and its region, and to make a significant impact on the cultural recognition of Roma.
The process of establishing ERIAC Serbia is closely aligned with the ERIAC Policy on local branches, as well as respecting the original roadmap and schedule approved by the ERIAC Board.
The formal establishment of ERIAC Serbia was concluded in a timely manner, and according to original schedule. In October 2019, ERIAC Serbia registered under Serbian legislation as an association. The statute and constellation of the founders – ERIAC Berlin Headquarters, Zeljko Jovanović (ERIAC Board Chair), and Timea Junghaus (ERIAC Executive Director) – guarantees the relationship of connectedness and dependency of the ERIAC branches upon the coordinating ERIAC Berlin-based headquarters.
In November 2019, ERIAC Serbia signed a lease agreement for office space with the Property Directorate of the Republic of Serbia (Republička agencija za imovinu Republike Srbije). The ERIAC office space is located in the heart of Belgrade, at Majke Jevrosime St. 51. The ERIAC office and art space will occupy a total area of 137.5 m2, on the ground floor, with a street-access entrance, and a proper open space suitable for art exhibitions and events.
ERIAC Serbia opened at Majke Jevrosime 51 in Belgrade on 8 April 2021.
On the occasion of World Roma Day, in the context of an event on their new premises, ERIAC Serbia opened its doors to the media and representatives of state institutions and organisations, including the Ministry of Public Administration and Local Self-Government, Council of Europe, Regional Cooperation Council – Roma Integration and Roma Education Fund. All guests had the opportunity to view the new space, to enter into dialogue with the ERIAC Serbia team, and to share ideas about collaborative work and potential cooperation.
During these visits, two documentaries were screened: Romanistan Dialogue, produced by ERIAC, and Paper, Horse and Birds, produced by artist Zoran Tairović and supported by Open Society Foundation Serbia (OSFS). Media partners for the event were RTS, RTV and Novi Magazin web portal.
The celebration of World Roma Day and the 50th anniversary of the First World Roma Congress hold special significance for Roma in Serbia and for ERIAC Serbia. Roma intellectuals from Serbia stand strong among the visionaries of the world Roma movement. From the very beginning, the Roma movement in Serbia has placed culture at the centre of its activities, viewing culture as a cornerstone of activism for the equal status of the Roma community in society, as is befitting. This legacy reminds us that culture is an indispensable element of the constant struggle and aspiration of the Roma towards a better future.
ERIAC Serbia will promote the cultural values of Roma in Serbia through its activities, and opens their space for critical artistic review, for the exchange of creative ideas, the presentation of artistic achievements, and also for dialogue and development of mutual respect and understanding through expanding knowledge and a positive image of Roma. With the priority of promoting Roma arts and culture, and Roma identity, artists will be offered the opportunity to present themselves through their own artworks. Institutional partnerships will be crucial for the preservation and promotion of Roma identity. We look forward to a bright future with ERIAC Serbia.
Serbia Moves to Advance Roma Culture and Education; in an Effort Also Supported by the Open Society Foundations, the Council of Europe, and Germany
Serbian President Aleksandar Vučić, inaugurated the first branch of the European Roma Institute for Arts and Culture (ERIAC) and the new headquarters of the Roma Education Fund (REF).
Speaking about the launch, President Vučić said: “The opening of the European Roma Institute for Arts and Culture and the Roma Education Fund in Belgrade shows how much effort Serbia is investing in preserving the Roma language and culture, quality youth education and greater Roma participation in public life, fighting discrimination, and respecting social equality and human rights. In this way, we are creating a better future for all citizens, because a better life for Roma means a better life for Serbia.”
Alexander Soros, deputy chair of the Open Society Foundations, welcomed Serbia’s unprecedented commitment:
“President Vučić has set a new standard for the Western Balkans—and Europe—by opening the first branch of ERIAC and helping the Roma Education Fund relocate to Belgrade. It is my hope that the other leaders of the region and Europe follow suit. My father George Soros and I have sought to advance Roma education, culture, Roma leadership, and economic entrepreneurship, and I am grateful that today we have greatly strengthened their effort.”
ERIAC aims to dispel prejudice and encourage Roma pride in their role in European history and culture. ERIAC is a joint initiative of the Council of Europe, the Open Society Foundations, and the Alliance for the European Roma Institute for Arts and Culture. The German government hosts ERIAC’s headquarters in Berlin.
Timea Junghaus, ERIAC Executive Director:
“For centuries, the Roma have contributed to the artistic and cultural heritage in Serbia and the entire region. Yet these contributions have often remained invisible. The establishment of ERIAC’s first branch is a historic milestone. It paves the way for ERIAC Serbia to become a leading stakeholder, promoting Roma cultural inclusion in the vibrant mainstream cultural scene in Serbia and the region.”
The same building will also house the Roma Education Fund, an organization working to increase the access of Roma children to education.
Redjepali Chupi, Interim Director of the Roma Education Fund (REF):
“REF wants to create a future in which everyone can develop their full potential and creativity. I am thrilled to welcome ERIAC into our community here in Belgrade. Together we are creating a powerful inner core, aimed at countering stereotypes and prejudices about our community.”
ERIAC SERBIA will promote Roma arts and culture in Serbia and the entire region, making a significant impact on the cultural recognition of Roma. Located in the city center at Majke Jevrosime St. 51, the ERIAC SERBIA office and art space occupies a total area of over 130 m2 on the ground floor, with a beautiful open space suitable for art exhibitions and events.
European Roma Institute for Arts and Culture Serbia
Evropski Romski Institut za Umetnost i Kulturu Srbija
Majke Jevrosime 51, 11 000 Beograd
+381 11 6906139
Open hours: Monday to Friday, from 09:00h to 17:00h