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“I joined the Centre in 2002, a time when the Romanian community in the UK started to grow. The Centre is funded by the Ratiu Foundation, a charitable body established in 1979 by the Romanian dissident and democracy campaigner Ion Ratiu and his wife Elisabeth.
“Our activities are run by a great team of volunteers, many of them Ratiu Scholars – Romanian but also British – who give generously in order to make our projects reality. We also have the friendship of important UK-based Romanian businessmen, such as Nicolae Ratiu (our chairman) and George Iacobescu, the CEO of Canary Wharf.”
Where can you find examples of Romanian culture in London?
“Anyone wanting to find information about Romanian culture can visit us in Manchester Square. We organise events on a regular basis, where anyone with an interest in Romania is welcome to attend.
“Romanian films are also screened regularly in London’s cinemas, such as the Curzon and the Ritzy. Following Romanian successes at the Cannes and Berlin film festivals, the BFI London Film Festival has featured Romanian films every year since 2005.
“London museums host some Romanian artefacts such as the Horniman Museum in South East London. Tate Modern has several works by the great Romanian sculptor Constantin Brancusi and also works by the late, London-based sculptor Paul Neagu.
“Romanian musicians perform on a regular basis on London stages, from the Wigmore Hall to the Royal Festival Hall, and from the Royal Opera House to the LSO: the great soprano Angela Gheorghiu, violinist Alexander Balanescu and the Balanescu Quartet, ballerina Alina Cojocaru, conductor Cristian Mandeal, the Belcea Quartet, the Contempo Quartet, Taraf de Haidouks, Fanfare Ciocarlia – and the list could go on.
“We publish details of all Romania-related events in our electronic cultural diary.”
Tell us about the Romanian Film Festival. How is the RCC involved?
“The Romanian Film Festival is organised by the Romanian Cultural Centre, with the help of Curzon Cinemas, our UK partners, and the National Centre of Cinematography in Bucharest, our Romanian partners.
“We build a strong line-up every year, and for each edition we invite film specialists from Romania – directors, actors, screenwriters, critics – in order to give the festival a broader context.”
What do you like about living in London? Why do you think it appeals to Romanians?
“I cannot speak for all the Romanians living London but, from my own experience and from what I know from friends, Romanians here love the dynamism of this great city and its vibrant, colourful life. It is amazing how all types of people can meet here and work and live together.
“I also love the way in which culture, history and living history meet in London. Then there are the lovely parks and gardens which can make you feel you are not in a city with some other 11 million people. Especially Holland Park, Hampstead Heath, or the Temple Gardens near the Royal Court of Justice.
“London is a great place to be student, as many of our Ratiu Scholars, MA and PhD students in London’s universities assure us. London is a very cosmopolitan place, where cultures meet, and where everybody can have their fair share of cultural events. Here, cultural immersion is a fact of life.”
Visit www.romanianculturalcentre.org.uk for more info on the Romanian Cultural Centre, and the film festival.
Where else in London have you experienced Romanian culture? Tell us in the comments below.