Art Studio in Macedonia trains young artists

August 2006 -

Numerous small-scale artist initiatives have been launched in the Balkan region in recent years. They operate under difficult conditions, but their enormous efforts sometimes achieve excellent results. One such example is the NGO Art Studio in Skopje, Macedonia's capital.
"Art offers a new perspective to many of the people who paint with us," says initiator Irena Gapkovska. "Alexander stepped inside here a few years ago: a talented but difficult and sometimes aggressive young man. His development as an artist has made him a more balanced individual. He is now studying at the Sorbonne in Paris."

In the eight years of its existence, the studio has trained three hundred students. Some fifty of these are now working to expand their artistic career in other countries. "Developing a healthy financial base is difficult," Gapkovska explains. "Students pay 25 euros a month, which covers all costs. Thanks to a contribution from the International Music and Art Foundation in Liechtenstein, we can give lessons free of charge to a select group of talented students who are unable to pay the monthly fee."

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The art climate is changing in Macedonia. An increasing number of networks are evolving that cover various disciplines, often focusing on community art. But it is slow going, according to Gapkovska. “The administration in our country is still continually changing, meaning that there is little stability. The Ministry of Culture grants modest subsidies, but these primarily go to out-dated institutes. However, new initiatives like ours are proving their worth. More and more, they are being taken seriously.”

The supply of art in Macedonia remains modest, in Gapkovska’s view. “There are a few exhibitions, concerts and jazz festivals, but the local media ignore them. Their attention is focused on politics and sports.”