B-51 CULTURAL SOCIETY
In late 1980s, a group of students transformed the abandoned shelter in the vicinity of the residence hall at Gerbičeva 51a in Ljubljana in the student meeting place and called it B-51 Club. This underground 'bunker' which grew into a cult Ljubljana student club, was the very first 'performing stage' of a number of today renown Slovenian artists and protagonists in culture engaged in the field of theatre, music, film and fine arts. In 1991, this student alternative subculture evolved into B-51 Cultural Society whilst the Club B-51 was active until 1998.
B-51 Cultural Society is a non-governmental organisation involved since its origin mainly in the production in the field of performing arts, promotion and organisation of international projects (Ex Ponto, Kluže, NETA, Rajvosa etc.), as well as organisation, promotion and development of culture in its various contemporary forms. Local and international coproductions have received over 30 domestic and foreign awards since 1991 and guest-toured in various parts of Europe and the world. Theatre production of B-51 is characterised by intense collaboration with domestic and foreign public institutes as well as non-governmental organisations, the promotion of local theatre creativity abroad and overcoming social and political issues by collaboration in the field of culture. Initially, the development of B-51 and international projects was based on collaboration with nations and cultures from the territories of the former common state, Yugoslavia, in particular in the period of war and political turmoils, whereas later on the Society gradually expanded its activity to the eastern and western Europe. Notwithstanding the current cooperation with premium local and foreign artists and organisations, B-51 still pays special attention to the young and not yet acknowledged artists.
On the initiative by Damir Domitrović, 1993 witnessed the formation of Ex Ponto project, originally established as a humanitarian and social movement to help artists, in particular refugees from Bosnia and Herzegovina, in their presentation and popularisation in Slovenia. After the war in 1997 and 1998, the Slovenian and Bosnian artists presented their endeavours in Ljubljana and Sarajevo in the organisation of Ex Ponto. Ex Ponto gradually grew into the international festival of performing arts today distinguished by the programme which combines premium theatre aesthetics, social and political charge and persistent promotion of international festival coproduction.
Rajvosa project is a form of 'cultural' socialising which through cultural events and meetings joins refugees from Bosnia and Herzegovina, in particular from Sarajevo, who live and work in Slovenia.
In 2002 and on the initiative of B-51 Cultural Society, the Kluže Fortress located at the border between Slovenia, Austria and Italy was the venue of the first edition of Kluže Festival which is developing into a modern form of cultural tourism. The fortress known in particular for the battles during the World War One, is today the venue of the international festival programme and a symbol of most discerned cultural event in the Soča region and broader. The Festival's perspective is the development of modern forms of cultural tourism, site-specific theatre, educational and artistic workshops, as well as integration of original natural and cultural heritage.
Years-long international activity of B-51 abroad, in particular through Ex Ponto Festival activities, contributed to the foundation of NETA – New European Theatre Action – in 2005 combining about 30 renown festivals and theatres mainly from eastern and Central Europe. NETA headquarters and the General Secretariat of the network are currently with the Ex Ponto International Festival of Performing Arts.
Major part of B-51 Cultural Society projects are supported by the Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Slovenia, Ljubljana Municipality, international organisations and foundations, as well as local sponsors and donators. The Society has a staff of four and over 10 regular collaborators both at home and abroad, as well as extra staff of young collaborators engaged during festivals or larger international theatre coproductions.