You don't have to be a “gem” from the Algarve to help Faro to be European Capital of Culture in 2027

Today Faro you will know if you move on to the next stage of the selection process

Photos: Hugo Rodrigues | Sul Informação

He barely heard the words “what about you, mr. Cod?”, spoken by Marko Paunovic with a smile and his characteristic pronunciation of the Balkans, the mayor of Faro he couldn't contain his laughter and soon infected the rest of the room. «If you say that like that, I'm going to fall apart», said Rogério Bacalhau, still laughing, on Tuesday, the 8th, in a small room in a Lisbon hotel.

The laughter of Rogério Bacalhau, but also of the other elements of the group, was a reaction to a comical situation, but also a reflection of the nerves that everyone felt at that moment, if this was not the last moment of preparation for the presentation of the bidbook of the candidacy of Faro the European Capital of Culture in 2027, which would take place the following day, Wednesday, at the Centro Cultural de Belém.

Today Faro you will know if you are one of the candidates that will move on to the next phase of the selection process, which will allow you to improve your proposal, already with feedback from the jury, develop some of the ideas that appear in the first application file and prepare a new bidbook.

But, for there to be reason to celebrate this Friday, the jury before which the delegation of Faro presented two days ago, he must have been convinced of the quality and relevance of the Algarve proposal.


Bruno Inacio


This mission fell to a team of Algarve people, some by birth, others by “affinity”, marked by diversity, both in terms of age and activities.

The youngest of the team, both aged 19, were Maia Viegas, a producer of content on social networks, and Camila Graça, who is starting her musical career.

In addition to the two young women, there are three more women, who ensured that the female gender is in the majority in the group: Teresa Aleixo, singer and councilor of the Municipality of Faro, Fúlvia Almeida, actress and association leader, and Alexandra Gonçalves, former Regional Director of Culture in the Algarve and university professor.

The team is completed with Bruno Inácio, the coordinator of the application Faro2027, Tiago Prata, manager of social projects who, despite being born in Lagoa, has been based in Gothenburg for a long time, and the aforementioned Marko Paunovic, an expert in European financing who has lived and maintains a house in Faro.

And if, in some cases, whether because of the roles that these people play or have played in public entities in the Algarve or because they are well known in the region's cultural milieu, the choices are those that everyone would be waiting for, in other cases it's not quite like that. .


Marko Paunovic


Anyone looking at Marko Paunovic does not mistake him for a Portuguese, much less for a typical Algarve. But, as the people wisely say, "whoever sees faces, does not see hearts".

“There are two main reasons for being here today to help defend this candidacy. The first is that I also see Faro like my city. I will always be willing to help the city I was born in, Serbia, and I feel the same way about Faro. There is an emotional connection," Marko told Sul Informação, who accompanied the trip of the representatives of the Faro2027 to Lisbon, on the 8th and 9th.

“On the other hand, I think the Algarve region is underestimated. It's just seen as a place to go to the beach and for people to have fun, but I think it has great creative and entrepreneurial potential. The third reason was because Bruno convinced me to bring my high-quality immigrant perspective (laughs)”, he added.

“I said there were two, but I'm going to the fourth. And the fourth is because it's fun», concluded this Serbian-born “Farense”.

On a more serious note, Marko Paunovic confessed that it was "challenging" to present the bidbook «before a jury full of personalities, who knew everything about the proposal».

“However, I think that the presentation went very well and that we have a good proposal”, he concluded.

These statements, as well as those of the other team members with whom our newspaper spoke, were obtained after the presentation session, which took place behind closed doors and to which journalists did not have access.


James Silver


Tiago Prata, who is from Lagoa, took the opposite route of Marko: despite being born in the Algarve, he emigrated and made his life in another country, in this case Sweden.

However, as soon as the opportunity arose, he did not hesitate to join the team at Faro2027.

“It is a pride and happiness to contribute with my experience in international projects and in European funds to help the application”, he said.

«Even though I'm not living in the Algarve, I'm still an Algarve. I strongly believe in this process as a development factor for the region and for the region's quality of life: more culture, more education, better public spaces, better relationship with nature, forms of tourism that are not so predatory and that do not exclude people or promote precariousness», he summarized.

According to this Algarve resident in Gothenburg, «fortunately, from what I have seen, there is a lot of belief in the quality of the process and that, regardless of the final result, it will bring much fruit to the region».

And the message of the candidacy of Faro the European Capital of Culture depends, to a large extent, on the fruits that it wants to bring to the Algarve, with special focus on the great need that the region has for a structuring project of this nature.


Rogerio Cod


«As we say in the application, 80% of our economy is based on tourism. Culture, from my point of view, is a transforming, aggregating activity that can boost tourism, but it can also create economic diversification activities in the Algarve, and that is the main motto for this. In addition to adding the region, we can diversify with new cultural agents, with new activities to be developed», believes Rogério Bacalhau.

The mayor of Faro explained to Sul Informação that the idea behind the proposal presented by Faro it is «to draw attention through culture», but also «to try to create solutions to various problems, from the outset our relationship with water, with the Ria Formosa, but also in relation to the lack of this good that we have in the Algarve».

Another major focus of the candidacy is «poverty in the Algarve, a problem that very few people talk about, but which exists».

There is also «a set of other projects that have to do with social action, have to do with people, with well-being. We want to promote an increase in the quality of life, both for those who live in the Algarve permanently, for those who live in the Algarve for a few months during the year or for those who simply come to visit us, stay here for a few days and return to their homeland».

Camila Graça has a soft and sweet voice and has put it at the service of the cause. The young Portuguese-Angolan surprised the jury by performing a duet with Teresa Aleixo, opening the presentation.


Camila Graça


For now, Camila may not be known to many, but if all goes well, that will change.

«Although I have already done many things, I believe that it is in music that I will stay, because it is in music that things have gone better», he said.

This young woman got to know the project of the Faro2027 through his English teacher, who «is the wife of President Rogério Bacalhau».

In this way, and to better understand what this whole process was all about, he joined the culture bank, which was in operation at the Municipal Market of Faro.

Maia Viegas, also 19 years old, had a very different path.

«It all started when I entered secondary school in Faro. I think it was through my Youtube channel that I became one of the young capsule. It was through this project that I met the Faro 2027. Then, a year later, I was asked to design the Tote Bags. So I got involved once again in the project », he said.

Later, «when they did the South Music Festival, I went to give a workshop there, to meet the team. That is, there were several moments when I got involved with the Faro 2027. "

This young woman, who studied visual arts, plans to enter the University, in Design, after «a year break».

And this interregnum has served to take his YouTube channel further, «which is called Maiazine, which is a virtual fashion magazine, in video version».


Maia Viegas


«This team that we brought to make the presentation has been working with us for a long time and reflects very well what is the social basis of Faro and the Algarve region. It is with these people that we have to work, because it is for them that we want to be the European Capital of Culture», concluded Rogério Bacalhau.


Photos: Hugo Rodrigues | Sul Informação