The “Shefqet Doda” Palace of Culture now it is revitalized thanks to the investment of the European Union, through the “EU for Municipalities” grant scheme.

The inauguration ceremony of the reconstruction of the Palace of Culture building, organized by the Mat Municipality and held on February 14, 2024, brought together the Ambassador of the Delegation of the European Union to Albania, Mr. Silvio Gonzato, the Mayor of Mat, Mr. Agron Malaj, and the Team Leader of the “EU for Municipalities” grant scheme, Mr. Elton Stafa.

This investment, along with the Palace of Culture’s total reconstruction, allowed for the creation of an information technology center for all of Mati’s talented youth. The reconstruction of the Palace of Culture gives the Municipality of Mat and the surrounding areas a vibrant hub for cultural events and activities in the community. The reconstruction project included upgrades to the building’s infrastructure and the modernization of its facilities.

Ambassador Gonzato commended the investment, saying he was pleased and proud of the European Union’s contribution to Burrel and the surrounding municipalities in rebuilding a venue that brings the entire community together, particularly the youth. He emphasized the importance of preserving the cultural heritage and promoting cultural activities and, at the same time, investing in the training of young people on new technologies. Ambassador Gonzato stated that the implementation of this significant project for the community was well-managed.“We are pleased to see the results that have been produced from the implementation of this project. I would like to thank NALAS (Network of Associations of Local Authorities of South-East Europe), because it is really rare to find an association of municipalities capable of implementing projects that, at the same time, understand local realities but also help realize their dreams,” declared the EU Ambassador. The Mayor of Mat, Mr. Agron Malaj, considered this investment important within the “EU for Municipalities” grant scheme.

Mayor Malaj expressed his interest in other projects that will help improve the life of the community. The intervention in the Palace of Culture building, according to Mr. Malaj, is not only important for architectural revitalization but is also a significant step towards embracing the future of technology.

The Team Leader of the “EU for Municipalities” Project, Mr. Elton Stafa, emphasized the impact that this investment has on young people and on the development of their knowledge at a time when technology has gained tremendous value and importance. “Young people are the driving force of our society. Providing access to cultural resources and to the latest technology is an investment for their future,”, said Mr. Stafa.

The Municipality of Mat’s “Innovation and Culture to Empower Mat-Icte Mat” Project ensured the reconstruction of the Palace of Culture, revitalizing it with a significant increase in capacity for about 5,000 citizens and with four new services related to the ICT center, the ballet hall, the music hall, and the art gallery hall. In addition, two municipal staff were trained to coordinate the provision of these new services in the future. Undoubtedly, a modernized and refurbished facility will contribute to the enrichment of cultural life in Mat Municipality and beyond.

Funded by the European Union, this crucial investment not only reflects the EU’s commitment to supporting social and cultural development but also introduces a center for information technology that brings the community of Mati into the digital age.

At a time when Albania has entered an important period of joining the European Union, the project also focused on increasing knowledge on the European integration process, in which 10 Mat local staff were engaged, as was a group of young people, by means of four trainings on EU standards and values. Likewise, 750 young people from Mati participated in 11 awareness-raising activities and 10 trainings, promoting their social inclusion according to EU standards and values.

The main goal of the project is to expand the potential of Mat Municipality in improving socio-economic conditions to enable a better quality of life for the community, embracing European values.

A grant of 238,000 euros was made available from EU funds to reconstruct the “Shefqet Doda” Palace of Culture, to create and furnish the ICT Center, to deliver training activities on improving ICT skills, workshops on the topic “Youth in the EU Integration Process in Mat”, as well as to share mobility experiences for 20 young people from Mat to Tirana.