STA, 3 August 2022 - For half a century the ŠKUC association has been a trailblazer in Slovenia's culture and society at large. It has evolved from a student hub into one of the most prominent cultural NGOs in the country. ŠKUC has played a major role in Slovenia's LGBTQ movement and helped launch careers of many artists who have become household names.
Various art collectives were founded by ŠKUC and later pursued independent paths, such as the Studia Humanitatis publisher. Many Slovenian artists who later became world renowned put on their first shows at the ŠKUC gallery, including Marjetica Potrč, Dušan Mandič and Duba Sambolec, the association's coordinator Jasmina Kožar told the STA.
The association, which has its roots in the student movement, was also a haven for musicians, many of whom recorded their first records there, including era-defining bands Pankrti and Laibach and singer-songwriter Tomaž Pengov.
There is hardly a social or cultural field where ŠKUC has not played an important role. Social movements, visual arts, music, literature, film, video, theatre, festivals, LGBT activism and publishing - ŠKUC has left an indelible mark on all these areas.
Its publishing arm specialises in LGBTQ literature and boasts award-winning authors such as Brane Mozetič, who has twice received the Jenko Prize, the country's top poetry accolade, Nina Dragičević, another recent Jenko Prize recipient, Suzana Tratnik, winner of the 2007 Prešeren Fund Prize, and Nataša Velikonja, winner of the 2016 Župančič Award.
According to Kožar, ŠKUC's biggest achievements have been in the field of LGBTQ activism. Today, the association is above all opening up space for the culture of the LGBTQ community and providing a safe and creative space for its members.
"Even nowadays, this space is still needed, despite all the rights and all that we have achieved," Kožar said. ŠKUC hosts the oldest LGBTQ film festival in Europe, which is also the oldest international film festival in the country, and the only Lesbian Library in the wider area.
Moreover, it cooperates with other Slovenian cities in LGBTQ activism, including Maribor and Nova Gorica, as well as with its fellow organisations in Europe and elsewhere.
Looking ahead, the association expects new challenges. "I don't think we've fallen asleep, but we've had to adapt to new times and new challenges," Kožar said.
ŠKUC would like to remain a relevant and up-to-date association. Despite limited financial resources, the desire remains to continue quality projects, including non-commercially oriented activities with original music at the forefront.
There is also an ambition to publish a publication on ŠKUC's history, but this would require additional funding, which is not yet available. They also want to bring the Biennial of Young Artists from Europe and the Mediterranean (BJCEM) to Slovenia.
When the Covid pandemic hit in 2020, the association's future hung in the balance, but thanks to Covid aid they have survived, Kožar said, adding: "If the market is open and we can work easily, I think that the way it is now is quite good."
This year's ŠKUC festival, which wrapped up recently, celebrated the association's 50th anniversary, featuring 50 events. After two years of Covid restrictions, the festival has seen a revival with plenty of tourists and local visitors attending. "The contact with the audience and their response in person is something else entirely," Kožar said.