Leon Jakimič

Liberec is one of the favorites of ECOC 2028

In the first of the series of interviews with the ambassadors of the European Capital of Culture Liberec 2028 project, we bring together the views of Leon Jakimič, a well-known businessman and head of the glass and design company LASVIT. After long period spent abroad Leon settled permanently in his home-town Liberec last year and is convinced that Liberec can be one of the favorites to get the title. Ivan Langr, Deputy Mayor for Culture, Education, Social Affairs and Tourism, asked.

You are one of the ambassadors of the Liberec 2028 project - European Capital of Culture. Why have you actually accepted this role?
Because I like Liberec very much, I live here with the whole family, and I think I can help Liberec succeed in the candidacy.

What chances do you think we have to succeed in the candidacy?
In my opinion, Liberec is one of the clear favorites regardless any other Czech city is or will be running. Culture is far from just about the number of theaters, but mainly about the people and how well they live in the city. And I feel that the people of Liberec are great, and even if they don't always admit it, they live beautifully in our city and mountains surrounded by nature. I meet people full of energy and creative activities here every day, which is reflected in active sports, which is also part of culture or craft and artistic activities, for example in the glass industry, thanks to which the Liberec Region is now nicknamed the Crystal Valley. If we add to this a great university worldwide famous especially through textile development and the Faculty of Architecture, beautiful historical architecture enhanced by Ještěd and the library, a number of great technology companies, newly renovated North Bohemian Museum and Gallery, lots of amazing new cafes and its own roastery, then it is clear that We definitely can't be an outsider. And I have not yet mentioned the close geographical link to our nearby neighborus, Poland and Germany, which is also an important factor in deciding who wins the candidacy.

How can Liberec and its surrounding region change thanks to winning the ECOC 2028, what can it bring to our citizens?
The citizens of Liberec should primarily say what they expect from the victory of the ECOC 2028. As soon as the deputies officially confirm that we are going for it, I would start asking people, calmly informally having coffee or tea, what Liberec could do even better to make life even better. Because it's not enough to just work and take care of the family for quality of life. What inspires and makes life really interesting is precisely the culture in the broadest sense, as I described above. The fact that it is statistically proven from previous ECOC winners that the city and the region will be visible within Europe, the number of tourists will increase significantly, new companies will be established and employment will increase, it is just a "by-product" or a consequence of victory. The main thing is that we will live here even better.

Imagine that Liberec got the title and we are in 2028 - what should be definitely not missing in the city that particular year (programme, construction, etc.)?
As I said, primarily people should ask themselves what would seem most meaningful to them to improve life in the city. And it doesn´t need to be about new buildings at all. Respectively, if, thanks to this victory and the associated increased tourism, some new buildings such as hotels or adventure exhibitions could be built, they should be financed by entrepreneurs, not the city. I also think of improving and approaching existing cultural objects, such as a theater, zoo, museum, gallery, a larger number of people, then more parks and a completely renovated beautiful Liberec dam, which will be possible to walk around the footbridge. A great positive benefit would also be the arrival of hundreds of young people in the region and the city, who will find employment in both crafts and technologies. It turns out that craft and technology do not have to be competitors at all, on the contrary, their future is in their symbiosis. If only this last idea were translated into reality, then it all makes not only cultural but also commercial meaning.