The last century saw the continuity in cultural and educational activity in Gornja Lastva maintained through the work of several societies. The existing society, the Cultural Heritage Association Napredak Gornja Lastva, being successor to all those societies, was proud to mark, in 2019, the anniversary of the founding of the Croatian Tamburitza Society Napredak and a century of continuous activity of cultural associations in Gornja Lastva.

The Croatian Tamburitza Society (CTS) “Napredak” Gornja Lastva was founded on June 15, 1919. Its work was authorized by the Provincial Government for Dalmatia in Split (No. II 10835/19), stating in the approval: “This confirms that the Croatian Tamburitza Society “Napredak” in Gornja Lastva legally exists in accordance with these rules – Split, on August 30, 1919”. The Society occupied premises on the ground floor of the parish house. It was financed through voluntary contributions, as evidenced by the preserved book of contributions for the period 1919-1940.

In 1938, the Society became a member of the Croatian Tamburitza Association (along with the CTSs “Sloga” from Mrčevac, “Guslar” from Stoliv and “Zmajević” from Perast) at the invitation of CTS “Zvonimir” from Osijek.

In addition to a tamburitza choir, the Society used to have a theatre troupe, first mentioned in 1928. Besides at parties in Gornja Lastva, the Society performed in neighbouring places – Stoliv, Mrčevac and Kotor.

The Society last performed at a party held on February 25, 1941, while its Managing Board’s last session took place on August 15, 1941, when it was decided that its property should be donated to the administration of the parish of Mala Gospa “as it can no longer operate because of war circumstances, but only the church can”. At the same time, the Society’s premises were returned to the church.

After WWII until 1947, an Education Board, a Public Reading Room, and a Board for Culture and Education existed. In 1947, the teacher’s flat was converted into Cultural Centre, which was opened in 1948.

As Anđelko Stjepčević writes:

“The year of 1948 was spent on activities of refurbishing and equipping the Cultural Centre. A great deal of work has been done by voluntary work actions, while there are references to some works being paid, such as to masons Jozo Š. Nikolić and Šimun Matković, as well as to Jozo Marinović for executing an oil painting on the stage wall. During September, voluntary contributions were collected from local people for the Centre’s construction, as well as during its opening. A total of 8,500 dinars was collected. It is worth mentioning that Don Niko Luković, a priest from Prčanj, contributed 500 dinars”.

In 1949, the Centre was electrified.

It is interesting to mention that two plays were performed in 1949, attended by 110 and 150 visitors, respectively. The library used to have 166 books and 60 readers.

In 1950, the Cultural and Education Society “Naprijed” was formed, which included a tamburitza choir and a drama club. In 1950, the Society received an award from the Cultural and Education Association of Kotor for the play “Uzavrela krv / Boiling Blood”.  The tamburitza choir gave performances in Gornja Lastva, but also performed in Kotor.

At the end of 1951, with is tamburitza choir and drama club, Cultural and Education Society “Naprijed” took part at the district festival of cultural, education and artistic societies in Kotor and received monetary reward intended for further development of the society, as well as for the development of cultural, educational and entertaining life in the village.

In 1956, a problem related to youth’s decreasing participation, passivity of elderly people and general abandoning of the village become evident for the first time.

At its assembly held on January 12, 1960, the Society was renamed the Cultural Artistic Society “Ilija Marković” in honour of a young man, the former member of “Napredak”, shot by fascists. With its tamburitza choir the Society won first place at the municipal festival of the Cultural and Education Association; as a reward for its successful work, the Municipality of Tivat decided to buy new instruments for the Society that were ordered from “Glazbala” in Zagreb.

“The tamburitze arrived to Zelenika by train on February 9, 1961!”

On August 5, 1961, the tamburitza choir performed in the garden of the JNA (Yugoslav National Army) Hall at a concert also featuring the choir of the Cultural and Education Society “Josip Marković” from Donja Lastva, the JNA Hall Symphony Orchestra from Tivat and the Music and Education Society of Tivat. The tamburitza players practiced under the guidance of Jozo Mija Nikolić. The tamburitza choir played on its new instruments, but, unfortunately, it was its last performance. All later attempts to restore the tamburitza choir failed because many people had left the village and there were not enough younger people to continue its work. In 1964, the school in Gornja Lastva closed down.

In 1970, the Society participated at the Sixth International Folklore Festival in Zagreb; on that occasion, the people of Gornja Lastva, women dressed in their national costumes and men in the uniforms of the Boka Navy danced and sang wedding songs.

In 1974, the Society of Friends of Gornja Lastva was founded.

Anđelko Stjepčević writes about this:

“Faced with the fact that due to moving out of people and increasingly difficult living conditions Gornja Lastva is under threat of complete degradation and destruction of what has been created, in order to save the village and find the prospects for its development, an idea was generated and an initiative launched to animate and organize people from Gornja Lasta who live in Donja Lastva, Tivat and other places in the Boka Kotorska Bay, Yugoslavia and abroad, as well as the friends of Gornja Lastva. Therefore, in August 1974, an assembly was held at which it was decided to form the Society of Friends of Gornja Lastva. The Cultural and Artistic Society “Ilija Marković” put their premises and equipment at the new Society’s disposal.

The founding of the Society of Friends of Gornja Lastva meant a strong action on gathering the people and friends of Gornja Lastva. This Society focused its work on building the infrastructure, improving electricity and water supply, installing a telephone line, launching an initiative to collect the money for road asphalting, etc. The cultural event “The Days of Fun in Lastva”, held in Donja Lastva, started to be organized in Gornja Lastva as well, establishing thus the tradition of Lastva Festival, with the Boka Navy performing its kolo (circle) dance for the first time in Gornja Lastva. Given that the Navy performs its dance on rare occasions and places, it was a great recognition to people of Lastva for their centuries-long membership in the Boka Navy, acknowledging the contribution they have made to its survival and progress. The Boka Navy and the Music Education Society have since been a regular part of the Lastva Festival. 

In 1991, the Cultural Artistic Society “Ilija Marković” and the Society of Friends of Gornja Lastva merged into one society named Cultural Tourist and Heritage Society Napredak. The Society continued with numerous cultural activities, exhibitions, concerts. It is important to mention that it had joint activities with the Photo Club “Maladost”. In that period, the Society began dealing with tourism, with travel agencies bringing groups of tourists on a day trip to Gornja Lastva.

In 1999, Montenegro adopted the first Law on Non-Governmental Organizations and the Society had to harmonize its acts with this Law. Its Statute was passed and the name changed to Cultural Heritage Association NAPREDAK Gornja Lastva, which it still bears. The Association cherishes a rich tradition of the previous cultural societies existing in Gornja Lastva:

  • Croatian Tamburitza Society “Napredak” (1919-1941)
  • Public Reading Room (1945-1952)
  • Cultural Education Society “Naprijed” or the Society “Ilija Marković” (1952-1991)
  • Organization of the National Front (1945-1990)
  • Society of Friends of Gornja Lastva (1975-1991)

The goals of the Association as written in the Statute are:

  • preserving the ambience, natural, cultural and architectural heritage of Gornja Lastva and heritage in general;
  • encouraging the activities aimed at preserving and protecting cultural and historical monuments;
  • nurturing and promoting cultural activity in the fields of music, folklore and folk tradition;
  • collecting, storing and presenting documents and objects related to cultural and historical past of Gornja Lastva;
  • encouraging the development of excursion and rural tourism and adequate tourist offer, in accordance with the programme of rehabilitation of Gornja Lastva;
  • encouraging local people to reach agreement on the protection, renovation and use of their houses and estates;
  • managing common buildings in Gornja Lastva: the Cultural Centre, an olive mill and other objects intended for common use;
  • taking care of and encouraging the activities of citizens and municipal authorities on maintaining, enhancing and constructing public facilities in Gornja Lastva, such as the road between Gornja Lastva and Donja Lastva, rural roads, water reservoirs, springs, wells, water supply network, electricity network, public lighting, telephone lines and village cemetery;
  • encouraging and organizing activities aimed at renewing olive growing, fruit growing, afforestation, animal farming development, beekeeping and vegetable growing;
  • developing habits of protecting the environment and preventing all the occurrences of environmental pollution.

The Association achieves its goals through organizing different projects, scientific meetings, forums, round table discussions and concrete action related to:

  • protection of architectural heritage and natural environment
  • restoration of agriculture and olive growing
  • development of rural tourism
  • organization of cultural events, exhibitions and concerts
  • publication of brochures, books, maps, postcards

The Cultural Heritage Association Napredak is a member of two pan-European organizations – Europa Nostra and the European Association of Spatial Planners.