This tool opens up new opportunities for citizens engagement and experimentation with the new formats of governance over resources. It calls for reconsideration of existing legal formats that do not ensure democratic cultural policy and sites of new cultural typologies.
Hybrid participatory governance model presents a hybrid institutional arrangement based on the principles of partnership between local authority and civil society associations/organizations. It is an innovative framework that enables new models of cultural governance and institutional formats that adequately respond to the needs of the non-institutional cultural sector. Hybrid forms of participatory governance in culture have not been sufficiently researched, but at the same time it seems to be an extraordinarily complex issue. These forms are directly dealing with major challenges and failures in legislative solutions, access to the decision-making processes in cultural policy and reconfiguration of relationship between the one who governs and the one who is governed. The development of any form of entity in culture based on the participatory principles allows a perspective for experimentation, and provokes pluralist transformations of public space, institutions and culture. The concept of participatory governance in culture needs to be understood within the framework of a wider range of contemporary forms of democracy, participatory approaches and advanced collaborations between the public and civil sector. Seen as such, this model can improve the level of democracy of the cultural systems, and serve as a foundation for sustainable and good participatory governance of cultural resources.
Rojc Community centre in Pula is an example of the hybrid participatory governance model of social-cultural centre. It began by squatting a neglected space which further led to advocacy activities and campaigns with the idea of participatory governance echoed in the management structure and governance model specifically and consequently linked to the specific configuration of stakeholders involved. Adaptability and openness to the rule of games and processes of negotiations have proved to be very important due to the distrust between stakeholders, different power positions, interests and needs. In an effort to better articulate their own positions towards the City of Pula and to encourage mutual cooperation, the organizations operating in Rojc established the Rojc Alliance in 2011. Only 19 organizations out of 108 that are using the space, decided to create a network which will operate the centre, develop joint programs and improve the management model. The intention to expand the Alliance membership and inability to increase the members indicates the state of affair in the community. In some cases, there is the basic lack of understanding the concept of participatory governance, in other, the lack of interest to be involved in decision-making, and finally, the conflicts between the organizations that are caused by the fact that they are in a competitive and rival relationship with respect to resources (human, financial, spatial, technical, material and other). Nevertheless, the Rojc Alliance constantly works on developing projects and proposals that will ultimately benefit everyone. Although some of the actions can cause dissatisfaction among the associations that are not members of the Alliance, and even among some of the associations that are members of the Alliance, the fact is that there would not be any benefit from the common good if it were not for the actions of the Rojc Alliance. Hybrid participatory governance model in this case is based on establishment of the Coordination body where the number of representatives of the Rojc Alliance and the City is equal, and the decisions are not taken by a voting majority but through deliberation and consensus. Rojc representatives are delegated by the Rojc Alliance, and the representatives of the City are appointed by the mayor. The role of the coordinating body is to monitor expenditure and ensure efficient management, and to decide on maintenance and investment priorities. The users of the premises have an interest in ensuring its efficient management and to improve the overall condition of the building. The advantage of the partnership with the City is the provision of steady budget financing. This model also ensures the participation of interested organizations in the centre’s management; a steady institutional framework and budgetary financing for the building’s basic maintenance; and also, collective control over the resources. Governance and management rules are defined in a document called “Decision on the Use of Office Space in the Community Centre Rojc” which was adopted by the mayor of Pula in 2013 after consultations with all the users. The document contains and proposes “House Rules”, “Maintenance Plan” and “Long-term Development Plan”. Hence, it defines constitutional rules, operational rules, regulates contract period and maintenance costs, and membership and mandate of the Coordination body of the centre. Every year, the City allocates money from its budget, to be used for the maintenance of the building and necessary services, which together with revenue from renting the roof to mobile operators for antennas, amounts to approximately two hundred thousand euros per year. Costs include a janitor’s service, night guards, a cleaning service, insurance, accounting services, etc. All 108 organisations have rent contracts with the City of Pula for using a particular space in the building, and they are also entitled to use the common building spaces like halls, corridors and toilets. All organisations are on the same mailing list for exchanging information, but the subgroup Rojc Alliance is governing the Rojc Community Centre as commons. Rojc seems to have a really good perspective, but there are several main challenges of the governance model and its further development. First, the community doesn’t have enough resources and power to manage the space by themselves, instead they have to seek for the agreements with the city authorities, which makes some users unhappy. Secondly, the Alliance representatives in the Coordination body are doing this work voluntarily, but in addition to participating in decision-making, this position also includes the work and communication with all the community members, that often happens on a daily basis. Aware of these challenges, the Rojc Alliance seeks to further strengthen the work of the Coordination body and set up new bodies that would take care of the high-quality functioning of Rojc. Also, it is important to emphasize that this centre represents almost the entire civil society scene in Pula and all its organizational forms and activities. Many of these organizations are in competition with each other in terms of financial resources, program and audience development. Therefore, it's already a valuable achievement to engage that number of entities in undertaking a common goal. Moreover, in the last few years, Rojc Alliance (1) opened the first common multifunctional space in the building - the Living Room – which is enabling gathering, joint activities and presentation of work of all the users and citizens of Pula; (2) launched website and radio; (3) developed artists in residency program; and (4) started mapping the resources and potential of the community centre for the realization of the future plans. With all these activities, Rojc increased the level of citizens engagement and attracted a huge number of visitors – approximately 1000 citizens visit Rojc daily, which is for a city the size of Pula (cca. 55.000 inhabitants) huge success.
The Community Centre Rojc is a social and cultural centre in Pula, Croatia. It is situated in the ex-military barrack on almost 17.000 m2 and hosts more than 100 associations from various fields: culture and art, sport and recreation, children and youth, ethnic minorities, psycho-social work, environmental protection, etc. After the Yugoslav army left the premises in 1991, the building hosted war refugees in the early 1990’s, and following their departure, the building was abandoned and fell into a state of devastation. As for almost every former Yugoslav country, the former-military property remains vacant and abandoned, with no official plan to repurpose it. Today the majority of this property is state owned, and decaying due to the failure to realize the illusory tourism development projects. In 1997, the building was occupied and it became the first and largest squat in Croatia. Rojc carried out community actions, cultural and social events, and the City of Pula (formally not the owner of the building) began to realize that it was impossible to ignore the value it brings to the city and to deny the fact that the building was being used by more and more organizations. Thus, in 1999, the City offered to formalize the utilization of the space and decided to help by refurbishing and repairing common spaces and infrastructure. By 2004, the heating system was renewed, sanitary blocks refurbished, electrical and plumbing installations repaired, masonry and glazing work carried out and the building’s environment partially refurbished, along with the installation of external lighting and video surveillance, and the organization of a security service and service for the maintenance of common rooms. Three years later, the Ministry of Defence (property owner) agreed to give the building to the City of Pula for non-profit activities, while the City adopted the decision on minimal rents for spaces leased to Rojc’s settlers. In 2008, the Rojc Coordination body was established, as a body in charge of the building management. It consisted of six members, three of them being representatives of the associations operating at Rojc, and the other three representatives of the City of Pula. The beginning of this body was marked by numerous obstacles, disagreements and lack of willingness of the City representatives to truly involve in this process, thus it resulted with revolt and protests, and the request for full partnership rights with the City. Today it represents a hybrid partnership model between the Rojc Alliance and City of Pula, which seeks to harmonize different interests among all involved stakeholders and articulate the most desirable model of participatory governance.
Retrofitting and Reusing: From a Military Barrack to Community Centre, Dušica Radojčić, 2017 - https://rs.boell.org/en/2017/07/03/retrofitting-and-reusing-military-barrack-community-centreTomašević, Tomislav, Vedran Horvat, Alma Midžić, Ivana Dragšić and Miodrag Dakić, eds. 2018. Commons in South East Europe: Case of Croatia, Bosnia & Herzegovina and Macedonia. Zagreb: Institute for Political Ecology.Žuvela, Ana, Davor Mišković, Dea Vidović, Leda Sutlović and Mirko Petrić. 2018. Do it Together: Practices and Tendecies of Participatory Governance in Culture in the Republic of Croatia. Zagreb Zaklada Kultura nova.
Rojc Community centre