No Borders Orchestra


NO BORDERS ORCHESTRA is symphony orchestra comprised of excellent professional musicians from ex-Yugoslavia region. Besides artistic, NBO has educational, strong social and political significance. It is based on deconstruction of stereotypes, overcoming nationalism, racism, xenophobia and the gory legacy from the past.


The No Borders Orchestra ( NBO ) has a long-term mission. Every year the orchestra performs several new programmes at the festivals in the region of former Yugoslavia as well as in other cultural capitals of Europe.
NBO is to its core based on non-exclusion in whatever aspect: culture, ethnicity, religion or private life. It sustains all efforts to construct a society that is truly open.

NBO is a tool and a symbol to help overcome a violent history, to set an example on how people can work and live together.

NBO is relevant not only for the region, but for Europe as well: NBO brings freshness and new energy.

NBO presents a regional, cross bordering project with a cultural impact based on universal human values. It takes action to enhance the progress of social, environmental and cultural awareness.


  • Excellence
  • Art, Open Society, Citizen’s Europe & Politics
  • Setting Example
  • Dedication & Motivation




Only two decades ago, after the down fall of Yugoslavia, we witnessed extremely devastating conflicts, civil war and ethnic cleansing spread in each and every ex-Yugoslav Republic and joined by the internal nationalistic tendencies.

Now newly independent countries are struggling to obtain true reconciliation based on mutual understanding. After suffering from the most horrifying war civilized Europe witnessed in the last decade of the 20th century, the whole region faced a vast number of social, economical, political and cultural consequences reflecting on the present development.

A collapse of this proportion involving ultimate ethnic discrimination and huge numbers of human rights violations, left the region to struggle with different, often even completely opposite versions of recent history and instable systems that had to face political, social and economical transitions. Beyond this, decades of instability produced cultural segregations inside the newly independent countries due to non-existence of stable policies, due to decentralization of economical or political power, and due to different internal consequences each country brought to itself.

With a possible exception of Slovenia that became EU member in 2004, level of corruption, dysfunctional public domain and political, social and cultural neglect is still present in the region to certain extent.

We firmly believe that the power of culture implemented through a development of cultural resources can produce stabilizing effect on the social, political and economic environment. This is not an insanely optimistic adagio. It is based on many scientific studies deriving from empirical examples across Europe.

The NO BORDERS ORCHESTRA project intends to implement an acquired long-term experience (gathered through the production of projects based on know-how expertise) in order to perceive and encourage mutual understanding within the segregated groups and cultural environments. We take the only position possible: it is of the utmost importance to act towards new integrations with a unique aim to present better cultural models and in order to develop new channels of communication and cultural exchange.

Propounding a high level of cultural and social awareness, equality, empathy, multiculturalism, sensitivity, critical stand point, exchange of experience and information, NBO project offers a strong value to the creation of new cultural horizons. This initiative has the possibility to gather segregated ethnic groups under one cultural “umbrella” with the power to influence faster balancing of regional cultural policies.

However much we achieve – in rebuilding infrastructure in South-Eastern Europe, coping with migration issues, stabilizing democracy and creating the requisite security – if we exclude culture, it will never be enough. Approaching culture through institutional measures is certainly difficult. Culture is present in every area which exists in imagined, experienced and established reality: it is indispensable yet difficult to pin down… …Past destruction has left deep scars. People in South-Eastern Europe have often had their world overturned, with culture used as a weapon and the destruction of cultural objects (churches, mosques, libraries etc.) presented as images of victory. The task now is to promote the victory of the cultural spirit, as the condition “human” is determined through culture. Erhard Busek (Introduction in the guide: Mobilizing Culture for Regional Development project by “A Soul for Europe” Initiative.

Cultural context

Diverse and too often not balanced cultural policies, as well as politics in the time of crisis, leave no space for intense cultural exchange, progressive visions and strong messages engaged projects are sending. The capacity of professionals to investigate our cultural and social conditions is simply not supported enough, as opposites to the enormous body of mainstream or politicized culture.
Years of cultural neglect, lack of cultural strategy and difficult contacts between likely partners in a process of creating collective models, resulted in rather dispersed cultural landscape striped down to the individual actions and random appearances on the contemporary art settings across the region. Contemporary art development is limited to personal interests and research capabilities. Thus we can see a fragmented background of institutional frames and a variety of forms and disciplines. In this environment new collaborations are appearing in which cultural operators and artists are crossing the boundaries of their initial activities and create a complex cultural initiative based on performing arts.

NBO is not an initiative propounding so-called “YU-nostalgia”. On the contrary, it is fully aware of turbulent Yugoslavia’s history as well as devastatingly destructive recent past. NBO represents the cultural force facing the future with the intention to act towards further regional development and cultural cooperation.

The NBO Basics

Professionals join together over sharing progressive intellectual and cultural values in a single-minded effort to work toward dissemination of universal values through music, through open discussion and sociable engaged activities. Partner organizations also joined in order to produce intense communication between separated scenes with the aim to form “a body of culture” in service of ambassadorship thus highlighting reconstruction of cultural values and importance of high cultural and social awareness.

Besides musical ambassadorship, NBO is looking for active participation of all partners in the implementation of the concept. By the means of artistic interventions, open discussions, media activities, human rights and freedom-of-speech activities – all with the goal to erase the existence of political and economical borders, ethnocentric tendencies, social, cultural, sexual and generational differences or other discriminative attitudes opposing universal human values.

Taking the inspiration from the excellent experiences and brilliant achievements of the West-Eastern Divan Orchestra, the NBO initiative proposes the strength of a living culture at the present, rather than looking at the legacy of the past. A living culture achieves its goals through intense discussions and the freedom to ask questions. NBO thus becomes a formidable interrogative platform of crucial importance for the region.

NBO is a collaborative project launched by a group of well established festivals and music institutions operating within borders of ex-YU. Although these institutions work in close collaboration with decision makers, their possibilities for action within a civil sector development are very limited. Festivals just too often find themselves in a position balancing between a city or a state cultural policies (that often undergo constant change of political winds or cravings) and objective necessity to deliver programs fulfilling diverse cultural tastes of their audiences.

As the conditions within the region are far from optimal, one can easily recognize certain general ignorance when it comes to culture, – lack of cultural activity and interest, neo-traditionalism and most of all a massive brain-drain of young professionals. In this atmosphere cultural institutions are delivering programs under very complex conditions. Even with the support of higher instances, they are not really in a position to reach out toward active reconstruction of the society. Put under the roof of a sociable engaged collaborative work in the framework of common European values – as the NBO – these institutions can provide impact on both educational and cultural spheres.

General concept

This initiative strives towards the integration of regional cultural policies and will represent an interrogative platform for research on cultural and social relations between ex-Yugoslav countries. It shall provide specialized education for performing artists in the segment of classical music based on universal cultural values and global cultural heritage.

Educational output

This new platform for classical music, in the form of a symphony orchestra, will certainly speed up the process of revitalizing unfortunately heavily marginalized culture. The lack of balance between the number of graduated musicians and offered professional posts is great and probably will not change unless action is taken. High educational institutions are producing new generations of artists and cultural recruits just in order to set them off directly to mostly Western European countries or the United States. Classical music is one of the most visible brain-drain fields within the cultural sphere of the region. On the other hand, the highest level of cultural capacity, sensitivity and creativity lays exactly with these young professionals. In the case of the region, they move out from their countries simply because their societies cannot provide sustainable careers in their fields of vocation. The NBO will unite professionals and support new talents. Through the international exchange of knowledge and expertise, a massive intellectual input is expected, resulting with a quality boost and further potential development!

The multicultural and engaged nature of the NBO project can truly bring added value to other educational systems as well. As the whole region is going through different transitional levels the educational quality is also variable. Given the fact that every professional classical music performer is also educated to become a tutor, the amount of alternative education networking that can flourish from NBO only on individual level offers already a huge added value to the cultural sphere. Gathering cultural potential in the region for the sake of “knowledge” will most certainly produce higher level of competence!


The NBO is a long-term project. After initial activities concentrated on the ex-YU region, the Orchestra’s ultimate aim is to include musicians and artists in general coming from the whole Balkan Peninsula.
Our goal is to emphasize the necessity of cultural involvement in all aspects of social and political life. We intend to do so through educational approach: workshops, engaged cultural laboratories, open discussions, debates, lectures, and benchmarking media actions.
We want to stimulate synergy, inspire partnerships and attract involvement of different civic and governmental groups into a joint common-shared venture. We send out a message to politicians that culture and arts are fundamental factors of good communication, co-operation and better quality of life for everyone.
Four aims that we are strongly proposing:

  1. to halt the brain-drain of young professionals from the region;
  2. to balance consequences of transitional period(s) across the region;
  3. to activate civil sector through cultural activity;
  4. to point out the importance of active citizenship.