A Festival of Industrial Culture Is Coming to Idrija

ID20 Institute participated in the organization of a bilateral meeting of stakeholders and partners between 23 and 24 September within the YOUIND project, which aims to address the issue of outmigration of youth from peripheral industrial towns and regions.

Outmigration of youth is a phenomenon visible in many smaller towns across Europe and especially felt in (former) industrial areas. Among them is Idrija, a town in western Slovenia, which shares challenges with similar towns in Styria, Austria, that were in the past strongly marked by mining. The aim of the Interreg YOUIND project is to research the reasons of youth outmigration and to tackle them with the utilization of unique industrial culture that is deeply rooted in both mining areas. Municipality of Idrija and Styrian Iron Road Association are participating as regional partners, while academic support is provided by Anton Melik Geographical Institute at ZRC SAZU, Ljubljana, and Department of Geography and Regional Science at the University of Graz.

In addition to academic research, pilot activities implemented by Idrija and Leoben will play an important role. ID20 Institute will, in cooperation with the Austrian partners, take over the implementation of pilot actions in Idrija. ID20 will lead the development of school initiatives on local UNESCO heritage and prepare the second HeritageHack – heritage themed hackathon. The biggest challenge will certainly be the organization of the first festival of industrial culture, which will be focused on the rich industrial past, present and future of Idrija. All activities will be carried out in 2021.

How to Keep Young People in a Post-industrial Environment

This issue was the main theme of discussions at a two-day bilateral meeting, which took place between 23 and 24 September in Idrija. On the first day, the representatives of various institutions and organizations from Idrija and the Styrian Iron Road gathered in the picturesque entrance building of the former Francis Shaft. The mayor of the Municipality of Idrija, Tomaž Vencelj, addressed the audience in front of the historical Kley water pump and officially started the international cooperation between the two mining towns. Jörn Harfst, the representative of the leading partner - the University of Graz - outlined the main objectives of the YOUIND project and Jani Kozina fromAnton Melik Geographical Institute presented the results of academic research on the topic of outmigration of young people from industrial regions. Matevž Šlabnik from Idrija 2020 Association explained the current situation in the field of youth in Idrija based on a survey conducted as part of the preparation of the Strategy for Youth of the Municipality of Idrija 2020–2025.

An interesting debate took place in Francis' Shaft. Participants discussed what industrial culture actually is.

A particularly interesting debate developed at the workshop, led by Matevž Straus from ID20 Institute, in which partners and stakeholders from Slovenia and Austria discussed what industrial culture actually represents. The debate will continue in the coming months and will play an important role in defining and implementing pilot activities.

Many Good Practices Impressed the Participants

On the second day, the project activities continued in the Inzaghi shaft engine room, that functiones as the seat of Idrija 2020 Association and ID20 Institute. Activities ­­focused on various aspects of industrial culture. Idrija presented school initiatives and explained the concept of HeritageHack to Austrian partners, which in turn shared their experience regarding the organization of various events based on industrial culture (e. g. Rostfest, Festival zur Industriekultur ..).

Rostfest is a festival in former mining town Eisenerz and interlinks art with cultural heritage. Foto: archive of Festival Rostfest

The two-day meeting was a valuable experience for all parties as first contacts were established between two regions that share many historical connections.