The House of Culture in Runik awaits the future

Surrounded by a sheet metal "wall", destroyed and without windows, the House of Culture in Runik - the monument of the 50s of the last century which was saved from demolition in the summer of last year - is waiting to be assigned its future. "The future of the house of culture" was the title of the invitation for a conversation with the citizens, which on Saturday brought together personalities from different fields about the destiny that the monument will have.

It is one of the steps that precedes the concretization of the project for restoration and revitalization, and which comes six months after, in the name of a major project, the Municipality of Skenderaj ordered the demolition of the object protected by law. The signs of this intervention are evident, while in the "Shotë Galica" school - which is separated from the object discussed by only one road - different proposals have been made: from a theater and concert hall to an exhibition space. There is no concrete decision, as long as 880 euros have been pledged for restoration and revitalization.

The Ministry of Culture has provided 250 thousand euros for this year, 300 thousand for the next year and the Municipality of Skenderaj, 300 thousand euros. With 30 euros, the "Hajde" foundation, which organized the discussion, supports it, but not only. It was this organization that was the reason why the building was declared a monument in 2018.

The world-renowned artist, Petrit Halilaj, who had proposed the restoration and functionalization of the House, also participated in the discussion. He is the founder of "Hajde". He said that the basic goal of this initiative is to finally return the space to the residents of his hometown. According to him, Runiku had a "cultural set" that was violently stopped.

"Today, the lack of culture in Runic is very widespread. From the 80s when the house of culture was violently closed. As a generation of the 90s, I remember that it was always closed and we didn't dare to go inside. In my opinion, this is the real cultural genocide that happened to us. What we want to do is to revive and bring back a cultural set, art, collective memory, the future where young people's ideas are put into practice".

It was forgotten until 2018, when Halilaj revived it for a few days with the artistic project "Skrepetimë". Some time later, the state remembered to protect it as a protected object of cultural heritage. According to Halilaj, the preparation of the project is expected to last one year and the works will last another year.

Ideas on how to revive are almost rough.

The language professor, Sala Ahmetaj, said that she would like the House of Culture to be multifunctional in terms of artistic interpretation.

"I would like to see every segment that has to do with culture in all possible variants. To have a hall for theatrical performances and one where concerts, other activities, exhibitions could be held. It would be good to have a special space for the archaeological heritage that Runiku has as a locality. Also a library where we could also bring books and documents".

The executive director of the "Hajde" foundation, Adrian Berisha, said that the meeting with the citizens was organized in order to be inclusive and transparent regarding the ideas about the House of Culture in Runik.

"It is very important for us to have proper access considering that it is a monument protected by law considering the historical importance it has. In cooperation with the Municipality of Skenderaj and the Ministry of Culture, we made a work plan. We are doing very well, we thank all the collaborators".

The Minister of Culture, Hajrulla Çeku, and the mayor of Skenderaj Municipality, Fadil Nura, at the end of last August, signed an agreement for co-financing the project for a total of 850 thousand euros budget.

But it was the opposite approaches to the monument that had clashed between the Municipality and the Ministry. The first one was done with an excavator when there were ten days left to mark the fifth anniversary as a monument, last July. At that time, the Ministry of Culture had been decisive in its response. He had confirmed that it was an illegal intervention, just as the Regional Cultural Heritage Center of Mitrovica had done.

The first meeting for the future of the House of Culture was a kind of workshop for the procedure of how citizens will project their idea on paper. It is the first step towards the revival of the protected monument that aims to restore the cultural life in Runik i Skenderaj.