Interview with Suzana Vrencovska, director of “Ohrid Summer”

“For me, the most important thing is to build the brand of the institution. I can freely announce top art throughout the 40th festive days through which classical music and theater will prevail, which is the main hallmark of the Festival. The Dolny Saray scene will get a brand new character in a very short time, and we are also working to initiate the construction of a concert hall that really needs … “says Vrencovska, Director of  “Ohrid Summer ”

You are the head of Ohrid Summer from last year. What did you work in the past period for greater affirmation and improvement of the festival?

Being at the forefront of a supreme manifestation that has been in the center of world art achievements and gathering of the most famous artists and theatrical houses for more than half a century, while maintaining the high criteria, it means laborious work, a lot of effort, many cancellations, but also great honor and privilege. The change of managerial position, as you know, happened in the very last year’s edition of the festival, but when you leave a successfully realized job behind, forget about all the difficulties and all the irregularities in the work that you have inherited. Together with the team, who knows how to work professionally, we are dealing with all the challenges. In the past period we have realized numerous activities in order to have another unforgettable festival edition. We have restored the press center, we repair all the shortcomings of the scenes where the program is on, we are working on improving the marketing strategy, we have a plan to realize more live events on the internet. Our goal is this year’s festival to bring down records of attendance. A rich program, a tendency of bringing culture closer to the citizens, as well as the development of cultural tourism through the promotion of cultural heritage, is what this year will recognize art lovers and our faithful audience. For me, as the first person among the equals in the festival, the most important thing is to build the institution’s brand, housework and respect for tradition.

This most renowned event in the country this year received fewer funds for its realization. Will this mean fewer guests or less famous names?

This year’s program, despite the reduced budget, will bring something new and fresh, an unusual and exciting edition. Of course, we will maintain the quality that is recognizable for the festival for the past 57 years. Given that it is the most renowned international world recognized event must have the best artists on the scene. The quality depends on the skill of the selectors themselves. With the fact that Aleksandar Popovski, one of our most successful theater and film directors and Prof. Vaso Ristov, from the Faculty of Music Arts in Skopje, are two prominent artists and cultural workers who have a rich domestic and international career behind, I strongly believe that the program will be with extreme quality. There were years when the program was realized with approximately the same funds, and on the stage we had the biggest world artists such as the opera legend Dmitry Hvorostovsky in 2013, which will remain enrolled in the festival history as one of the biggest stars who performed on the stage from the Ohrid Summer Festival. Still, the fact that such a superb Festival, the presenter of Macedonian culture and art, should have more funds, is undisputable, and I sincerely believe that the budget for the next editions will be far greater.

Ohrid Summer is a superb event, so sponsors are always benevolent in supporting top art. What is the situation in this plan?

As for this year’s 58th edition, we tried to provide more funds from the sponsors who expressed their willingness to support with the goal of seeing the top music names and quality theater creations from the country and the world. The partnership with most of the sponsors lasts for many years and is based on trust, understanding and respect, important for the development of culture, but also the opportunity to have world-renowned music and theater names in our country. We are also proud of the moment that in the circle of friends there are new ones, some for the first time, and for some we have restored the trust that was previously shattered. We always emphasize that without our faithful friends we could not write the success story through the festival history.

Given that the preparations for the program for each next edition start months ahead, can you tell us what accent will be put forward this year?

This year we have done a lot and I can freely announce top art throughout the 40th festival days through which classical music and theater will prevail, which is the main hallmark for which the Festival is widely acknowledged and valued. The very fact that Ohrid Summer brings about 1,000 artists, actors, theatrical workers, soloists, choruses, musicians … from all countries in the world, over 30,000 visitors, lovers of art, is an indication that we need to do a lot for a successful festival edition. The most important thing is with a quality and attractive program to reach as many people as possible. Along with this, we consider that the spatial conditions need to be improved. You know that Ohrid Summer is a summer festival and it is mostly performed on open scenes, but you have to keep in mind that in case of weather problems there is no alternative to a big event such as the official opening of the festival. That is why we are working to initiate the construction of a concert hall that really needs a city that always carries the epithet – a city of culture and art.

Regarding the activities for the arrangement of the scenes and the fulfillment of the conditions, this year is announcing the restoration of the stage Dolni Saraj?

Exactly. The Dolny Saray scene will get a brand new character very soon. With funds from the Ministry of Culture in the amount of 1.4 million denars will be made on the scene itself as well as on the theater, which over time have been severely damaged. This is a huge undertaking, but guided by the vision that the Ohrid Summer deserves the best, we have been given the task to succeed in that. This is one of the most representative and the most beautiful scenes in Ohrid and we are really happy that finally with such activities we will get a contemporary scene according to all world standards. Earlier on this stage a new sanitary installation was installed, a new energy system, completely new wardrobes were made for the artists.

Every year the festival climbs a stair above. What is this year’s interest of foreign artists for the presence of the Ohrid Summer and do you already have some initial agreements?

I must admit that the interest in the performance of the festival is enormous; many applications arrive from world famous artists every day, and that’s what gives us the right to announce a more successful and attractive edition of the previous one. Our mission is to overcome what has been achieved and every year the festival climbs the stair above. The program is already getting a definitive framework and will be publicized very soon. The official opening of July 12, the birthday of August 4 and the closing of August 20, will be special events that I am convinced will cause admiration for the audience. The top world and local artists will perform in the church “St. Sophia”, and we will especially enjoy the high theater art. We are aware that “Ohrid Summer” is a recognizable mark of Macedonian cultural identity and we strive to offer the best from the world and the domestic art scene.