The city of Žilina is bidding for the title of European Capital of Culture 2026 in partnership with the cities of Bielsko-Biała and Frýdek-Místek and with the support of the Žilina Self-Governing Region and The University of Žilina. The project team operates temporarily under the OOCR Malá Fatra organisation.
Žilina Beskids 2026 team
Martina is the “keeper of the keys”, the person who makes sure things get done, not just said. She runs finance, communication, the office, in short, the system and the organisation. She studied International Relations and Nationalism at the Central European University in Budapest. Afterwards, she was part of the team that founded LEAF Academy, an innovative international high school in Bratislava. Over the years, she has volunteered for Amnesty International Slovakia, in a low-threshold community centre for youth or the first zero-waste conference in Slovakia.
Zuzana is our team lead on art and civic issues. She returned to Žilina after her Public Policy studies at Oxford, and years living across Latin America and Europe. Formerly a champion for anti-corruption and integrity in public service at Transparency International, she also helped prepare the cultural programme for the Slovak EU Council Presidency. Born and bred in Žilina, she sees her contribution in nurturing a public space built on dialogue and mutual respect.
A true Central European in her heart and soul, closely connected with the Czech-Polish-Slovak border. She studied cultural anthropology and collaborated on art and educational projects connecting the Visegrad countries. She spent several years on the Meat Design Ostrava project, collaborated with the art and feminist publishing house wo-men and volunteered to save the historically valuable building of the Havířov train station. Ela is the main coordinator for cooperation with the city of Frýdek-Místek and other partners in the Czech Republic.
Silvia is a design researcher and strategist who explores the intersection of art, technology and politics. She also consults in service and inclusive design, healthtech, real estate development and human-computer interaction. In our team, she runs the Future’s Factory programme line and cultural strategy. She studied at the Royal College of Art in London, the Design Academy in Eindhoven and the Interfaculty ArtScience in The Hague. A native of the Kysuce region, she returned to Žilina after 10 years abroad, mainly in the Netherlands.
Soňa works as a coordinator of international partnerships and production of public events. She graduated from the Department of Theory and History of Dramatic Arts with a focus on theatre and film criticism in Olomouc and Munich. As a native of Žilina, she feels like a loyal consumer of local culture, to which she returns after years spent studying and travelling, coming back to the ‘crime scene’.
Christian feels like a Frenchman from Žilina. 19 years ago, he moved to Žilina from Paris, to help build the Stanica cultural centre. Since then, he was director of the Foundation Center for Contemporary Art in Bratislava and Art studio Bubec in Prague but also took part in several ECoCs in the region. He brings experience and expertise in ECoCs to the team and acted as the main coordinator of the bid. He studied city development and social work in Paris, and cultural management and policy in Belgrade.
Rafał comes from Bielsko-Biała in Poland. He is an independent film producer, an active member of the Association Contrast Art Center. Thrives when working on tight deadlines in a challenging environment. He loves to be a part of a project that will change how people perceive the world (even on the smallest scale). In our team, Rafał is responsible for the cross-border cooperation between Slovak and Polish partners.
Lucia works in the team as a project manager and brings a combination of her various experiences. She gained her experience during several years in various managerial positions at LITE College in London. Later she lived alternately in Europe and India. During her Indian stays, she devoted herself to yoga, and after returning to her native Žilina, it led to the opening and operation of a community yoga centre. In addition, she has volunteered for various local environmental, cultural and community initiatives.
Žilina Beskids 2026 Art board
Slovak Sinfonietta Žilina
“In the future, I wish for the locals to perceive quality culture as a normal part of life and society, so that we can all truly feel at the heart of Europe, surrounded by beautiful nature and rich cultural life. ”
Academy of Fine Arts and Design, Bratislava
“The current identity of Žilina (geographical location, traffic junction) needs to be expanded by new topics – culture, the cultivation of culture and education. To take into account social development in the digital era and rapid climatic changes.”
Museum of the Považie Region in Žilina
“What’s next for culture in Žilina? I wish for it the following: that to a simple question ‘Where to go?’ there is a simple answer: ‘To Žilina, of course! It’s nice there, it’s pretty and there’s always something going on!”
“Culture in Žilina should be accessible and attractive to a wide group of diverse communities and residents, who should have the opportunity to be directly involved in individual activities and thus shape cultural life in their city.”
Bábkové Divadlo Žilina
“Žilina is my choice. I was not born here, I chose it. Precisely because of its cultural possibilities and potential. I would like to help everyone see it that way. ”
Literature and history
“I am a bookseller who does not personally wish to change culture in any way (it will change without me). It’s enough for me to wish that more and more people discover the joys of living with culture. ”
Art in the public space
“I see Žilina’s future that is cultural, open, creative, socially responsible, active and interactive. I perceive culture as a natural catalyst for urban development and the activation of public space.”
University of Žilina
“Culture and education are closely interlinked, so I believe that a broader connection between the city and the university, also within culture, will bring even greater development of knowledge for our city and region.”
CITY OF ŽILINA
Peter Fiabáne, Vladimír Randa, Barbora Birnerová, Michal Berger, Ingrid Dolníková, Katarína Gazdíková, Štefan Vančík, Ivana Stillerová, Veronika Tabačková, Janka Pačeková, Veronika Harvánková, Rudolf Chodelka, Lucia Streďanská
CITY OF BIELSKO-BIAŁA
Jarosław Klimaszewski, Adam Ruśniak, Przemysław Smyczek, Jolanta Gilman–Gałuszka, Anna Zgierska
CITY OF FRÝDEK-MÍSTEK
Michal Pobucký, Pavel Machala, Rostislav Hekera, Michaela Kocourková
ŽILINA SELF-GOVERNING REGION
Erika Jurinová, Martin Hromada, Zuzana Mičíková, Ján Pavlík, Peter Šimčák
Marcin Filip, Lenka Kubíková, Dagmar Valášková
UNIVERSITY OF ŽILINA
Jozef Jandačka, Josef Vičan, Jozef Ristvej, Robert Hudec, Slavka Pitoňáková, Andrea Čorejova, Veronika Šrámová, Mária Rostašová, Pavlína Čierna, Čorejová Tatiana
Soňa Holúbková, Michaela Jakubíková, Andrea Kovaľová, Libor Štípala and all the people who participated and contributed in workshops, discussions, open calls and meetings during the preparation of this bid.
LIST OF MUNICIPALITIES THAT SUPPORTED OUR BID Bitarová, Bobrov, Breza, Bytča, Bziny, Čierne, Divinka, Dolný Kubín, Dolná Tižina, Dunajov, Ďurčiná, Gbeľany, Hôrky, Horný Hričov, Horný Vadičov, Kotešová, Krásno nad Kysucou, Kunerad, Kysucké Nové Mesto, Lysica, Maršová-Rašov, Námestovo, Nová Bystrica, Oščadnica, Predmier, Rajec, Rajecké Teplice, Rudina, Rudinka, Strečno, Teplička nad Váhom, Terchová, Turzovka, Vysoká nad Kysucou, Zázrivá, Zborov nad Bystricou, Zubrohlava