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Europe still under construction - after 20 years of European Cultural Capitals

Magazine #03:

Welcome to the Heritage Radio Network Magazine! This issue of our magazine is called “Europe still under construction - after 20 years of European Cultural Capitals"

20 years of Cultural Capitals of Europe is more then enough reason to look back on a European-project, which without doubt can be called a success-story, and even finds its imitators way beyond European borders in other areas of the world such as South-America, Canada, the Middle-East.

To reflect on the concept and implementation of Cultural Capitals a closer look needs to be taken at which points this 'complex concept' has failed its ambitious aims, which mistakes have been done and where problems have arisen, if at all with the local population and last but not least how were they designed to be Cultural Capitals.

Much can be learned from former Cultural Capitals but how such knowledge-transfer between each city can be organised and made sustainable, that then goes beyond the capacity of each city and requires a network.

Since there has come into existence the ECCM network a closer look needs to be taken here as well. Even more important than to look back what happened then in 1985 when it all started in Athens is to ask how future Cultural Capitals must be shaped in order to be able to stand up to all the challenges existing at the beginning of the 21st century.


Audio: Broadcast version of this HRN-Magazine as aired on the Voice of Croatia


  • Chapter 00: Its first envisioning over 20 years ago

    • keywords: Melina Mercouri's vision, Eccm-Symposium October 2005, Athens; ECCM-Exhibition on 20 years of European Culural Capitals
    • Editors: Vid Mesaric, Croatian Radio, Jan Brueggemeier, HRN Office Weimar
  • Chapter 01: From a dream to its first practical implementation: Athens 1985

    • Interviewee: Spyros Mercouris, coordinator Athens 1985
    • Keyword: the first European Cultural Capital: Athens1985
    • Editor: Jan Brueggemeier, HRN Office Weimar
  • Chapter 02: Glasgow 1990 - a shining-success story of the nineties?

    • Interviewee: Robert Palmer, artistic director Glasgow 1990
    • Keywords: Cultural Capital as catalyst for an overall urban planning and long term regional development
    • Editor: Jan Brueggemeier, HRN Office Weimar
  • Chapter 03: Antwerp 1993 - artistic independence with intense but controversial link to the local level

    • Interviewee: Bart Verschaffel, head of discourse and literature-section Antwerp 1993
    • Keywords: intellectual content vs. spectacle and books vs. event, literature as process of reflection and creativity, Cultural Capital as a challenge for a city
    • Editor: Jan Brueggemeier, HRN Office Weimar; Hatto Fischer, Poiein Kai Prattein
  • Chapter 04: Legacies of 20 years of Cultural Capitals: from ECCM to the Palmer-Report

    • Interviewee: Rodolfo Maslias, coordinator of ECCM; Robert Palmer, Palmer-Report
    • Keywords: Network for European Cultural Capitals and Months (ECCM), Palmer-Report on Cultural Capitals, knowledge-transfer between Cultural Capitals
    • Editor: Jan Brueggemeier, HRN Office Weimar
  • Chapter 05: Challenges of the 21st century on Cultural Capitals

    • Interviewee: Robert Palmer, Bart Verschaffel, Rodolfo Maslias
    • Keywords: the role of culture in 21st century, the meaning of the city in times of Internet, future of Cultural Capitals
    • Editor: Jan Brueggemeier, HRN Office Weimar
  • Chapter 06: Weimar 1999, Germany - overshadowed by its own legend?

    • Keywords: Rise and Fall of Modernusim-exhibition, copy of Goethe Gartenhaus, depression after the Cultural Capital event
    • Editor: Michael Helbing & Andrew Gledhill, Radio LOTTE Weimar; Jan Brueggemeier, HRN Office Weimar
  • Chapter 07: AECC turning the Millennium from Prague 2000, Czech Republic to Kraków 2000, Poland

    • Interviewee: Petr Vícha, Bohumín city mayor; Eva Lenatorvá, Czech journalist; Jirina Kábrtova, Ostrava museum director, Igor Horváth, Cesky Rozhalas Ostrava Radio, Bogusław Sonik, director Kraków 2000
    • Keywords: UNESCO World Cultural and Natural Heritage Register, long lasting restitution processes, 'Thouht, Spirituality and Creativity', Stanislaw Wyspiański and Tadeusz Kantor Festivals
    • Editors: Gabriela Vsolkova, Radio Cesky Rozhlas; Katarzyna Fortuna & Marianna Knap, Radio Kraków
  • Chapter 08: Patras 2006, Greek - constructing Europe`s future in the last minute

    • Interviewee: A. Alatsis, artistic director Patras 2006, C. Roilos, managing director Patras 2006
    • Keywords: 'Greek illness', construction site Europe
    • Editor: Hatto Fischer, Poiein Kai Prattein
  • Chapter 09: The bidders - Pécs 2010, Hungary, and Varna 2019, Bulgaria

    • Interviewee: Dr Kunszt Márta, deputy mayor of Pécs, Bachman Zoltán, architect, Pécs, Panko Anchev, Chairman of the Standing Committee of Culture and Religion to the Municipal Council
    • Keywords: Pécs 2010, regions, regional development, borderless city, Zsolnay manufacture, Pannon Philharmonics, Varna 2019, Varna Summer Festival, International May Choir Competition, an International Biannual of Graphic Arts, May Salon of Arts, Varna National Congress Center, Varna Opera house
    • Editors: Gyarmathy Dóra, Hungarian Radio, and Svetlana Dicheva, Bulgarian National Radio
  • Chapter 10: Zagreb 3000 - an artistic critcism

    • Interviewee: Goran Sergej Prista, co-founder of Zagreb Cultural Kapital 3000 network platform, performing artist and member of independent group BAD Company and professor at Academy of Drama Arts in Zagreb
    • Keywords: future of cultural development, new and ironic interpretation of Cultural Capital concept, artistic international collaboration, independent cultural production, advantages and disadvantages of Cultural Capital concept, European cultural policies
    • Editor: Vid Mesaric, Croatian Radio
  • Editors-in-chief of this edition of the Heritage Radio Network Magazine: Jan Brueggemeier, HRN Office Weimar; Vid Mesaric, Croatian Radio; Hatto Fischer, Poiein Kai Prattein

Chapter 00: From its first envisioning over 20 years ago

Map of European Cultural Capitals

Melina Mercouri

To make culture a top priority for politics seems to be a very difficult task. When has culture - in the last 100 years – brought more money or influence than political negotiations and molestations? Although it seems to be a battle almost lost, it is not so by far. One of the very important EU large-scale initiatives that serves a cultural approach and thereby recognizes the major role culture does play in the EU process and, especially, in the creation of a common understanding - is the institution of the European Cultural Capital.

Owing to the vision and initiative of Melina Mercouri, internationally renowned artist and Greek minister for culture, this very stress on multiculturalism of Europe and promotion of tradition had found its articulation in the first Cultural Capital of Europe event hosted by Athens in 1985. Melina Mercouri had the idea to envision culture as the linkage and driving factor of development of united Europe. For Mercouri the field of culture was the most important mission of the union. Cultural-work should gain continuously a greater dimension and better image. Till then no treaty existed, which would set ground for anything like this. The very existence of rich and diverse European cultures, in which single cities always have played a mayor role, strengthened Mercouri's point to initiate a common cultural action and let every year one European city become "European Cultural Capital"

On November 28th, 1983 in Athens the then Minister of Culture Melina Mercouri gathers all Community Culture ministers in order to submit to them the following question: "How is it possible for a Community which is deprived of its cultural dimension to grow?" and continued: "Our role of ministers of Culture is clear. Our responsibility a must. Culture is the soul of society. Therefore, our foremost duty is to look at the foundations and nature of this Community. This does not mean that we should impose our ideals. On the contrary, we must recognize the diversities and the differences amongst the people of Europe. The determining factor of a European identity lies precisely in respecting these diversities with the aim of creating a living dialogue between the cultures of Europe. It is time for our voice to be heard as loud as that of the technocrats. Culture, art and creativity are not the less important then technology, commerce and the economy."

(Audio: Speech S. Mercouris at ECCM-Symposium October, 2005, Athens)

A vision becomes reality. In 2005 Ján Figel, Commissioner for Education, Training, Culture, and Multilinguism stated, “Over the last 20 years, the European Capital of Culture has become one of the most successful and popular actions. It gives cities a period of one year during which they are given a chance to showcase their cultural life and cultural development. It has a strong track record in creating jobs, generating new investment and boosting cultural tourism”.

Nevertheless the concept of Cultural Capitals is experiencing certain refinements. From 2009 till 2019 two cities a year will become Cultural Capital. Furthermore the European Commission adopted in 2005 a proposal for improvements in the selection-procedure of cities bidding to become European Cultural Capitals. It includes introducing at national level a stronger competitive element, increasing the role of selection panel, while a monitor phase shall be introduced. Also it is acknowledged that the selection criteria have to be made clearer and the emphasis on a European Dimension has to be raised.

Given such a vast and complex concept in the making an overview is needed.

Luckily enough in Patras 2006 for the very first time an exhibition has been prepared on the history of the 20 years of European Cultural Capitals in dedication to Melina Mercouri.

It is organised by the Network of European Cultural Capitals and Months (ECCM) with Spyros Mercouris as curator of the exhibition and honorary-president of the ECCM deeply involved since very much a part of his personal life. After all he was the first coordinator of all Cultural Capitals for it was mainly due to him that Athens 1985 came about in practical terms even though his sister had the vision. Heritage Radio Network spoke with Spyros Mercouris:

(Audio: Interview with S. Mercouris on ECCM-Exhibition: 20 Years of European Cultural Capitals)

Chapter 01: From a dream to its first practical implementation: Athens 1985

Spyros Mercouris

"Every citizen has to experience, feel and define her-/ himself such new linkage, which is evolving out of such new identity and contemporary politics." Spyros Mercouris

Every city differs in the way it planned and ran the Cultural Capital period and which expectations it brought into cultural reflections when being a Cultural Capital. For instance, Weimar 1999 had the link between Classics and Concentration Camp Buchenwald, Cork 2005 by contrast undertook an action linking culture to health in order to take activities into hospitals and jails.

Of interest is that all these diverse understandings express themselves in an idiosyncratic definition of culture. That shows itself in what is being pursued and how groups of the city are being involved. It touches as well as upon the most important task of any European Cultural Capital, namely the degree to which it can give its culture a true European perspective.

At the same time, there has to be brought into full knowledge what sustainable effort is needed to generate ongoing activities after having been a Cultural Capital. For instance Lille 2004 after having experienced and enjoyed its success has recreated its organization as Lille 2008 to keep up that cultural momentum. The question of sustainability after having been "awarded" to be a European Cultural Capital and in view of having gone through a vast learning process during the one year of implementation is not one of simple success.

For instance, there needs to be looked at what impact had the concept in terms of urban revival and therefore on the cultural image of the city. Certainly when Glasgow had its turn, it demonstrated something more general, namely how cities and its cultural scene can work together to revive the inner core and thereby restore the cultural self-confidence of such a city. Robert Palmer, director of Glasgow 1990 and Brussels 2000, has always linked cultural projects to urban renewal of especially urban derelict areas.

(Audio: Interview with S. Mercouris, coordinator Athens 1985: on Athens 1985)

Chapter 02: Glasgow 1990 – a shining success-story of the nineties?

Robert Palmer

Glasgow 1990 is referred to as one of the European Cultural Capital which have used the event of the Cultural Capital as a cultural catalyst for triggering off successfully an overall urban development of the City and Region of Glasgow. It is known for having achieved long-lasting effects, which can be accounted in the social, cultural and economic life of Glasgow and its region.

So one main aspect of the success of Glasgow 1990 has been definitely its capability to create such an atmosphere of excitement in the city, which lead all involved in projects - from participants, speaking of to the inhabitants of the city as well as to the political and cultural protagonists - to turn by themselves the one-year period of Glasgow being European Cultural Capital 1990 into a ten-years working period lasting from 1986 to 1996. From the point of view of the former artistic director of Glasgow 1990 Robert Palmer such time-span of ten years is just an appropriate framework for planning and conducting such an event as European Cultural Capital. HRN spoke with Robert Palmer on his conceptual approach to Glasgow 1990 and the special conditions of Glasgow in the late 1980ies and beginning of the 1990ies:

(Audio: Interview R. Palmer, artistic director Glasgow 1990, Brussels 2000; Palmer-Report on Cultural Cities, 2004: on Glasgow 1990)

Chapter 03: Antwerp 1993 - artistic independence with intense but controversial link to the local level

Bart Verschaffel

Antwerp did not have it easy at the start; a lesson was about to be learned for what turns out to be repeatedly the problem of Cultural Capitals. That problem can be described as attempts by city officials and other interest groups to exercise political influence upon the artistic concept.

Only once Antwerp saw politics must not interfere in artistic and cultural expressions, then they did not only appoint Eric Antonis to direct Antwerp 1993 but accepted his precondition that he was free to choose who else he would have on his staff. He had already in mind for Antwerp1993 a special policy plan. He wanted to make a conscious choice in favour of art: in favour of nuance, criticism, and this by asking questions, by exploring doubts and by looking for answers. It meant rather than emphasis of the already existing or well established art to opt for change in order to create and to bring new texts, new pieces of music, and new works of art, new theatre productions into the life of the city. In this way, Antwerp 1993 also showed it was prepared to take risks.

Eight programs each relating to a specific sector were developed: Historical Projects, Music, Performing Arts, Discourse and Literature, Architecture and Urban Development, Film, Photography and Media Art, Contemporary Visual Art and Large-Scale Projects. Two projects by independent organizers, relating to fashion and silver, were brought together in a ninth Applied Art ‘sector’. This meant for each of the nine sectors he wanted to hire specific personalities of high integrity, independence and willingness to go for that risk.

That was needed for Antwerp 1993 for it had to face an intense even controversial link to the local cultural assertiveness of the Flemish community whose outlook on cultural policy differed as much as what made it into a rich example of European cultural diversity. The coordinator for literature was Bart Verschaffel who joined Eric Antonis in this belief of creating new works and in doing something that makes you really think. Here then a few thoughts by Bart Verschaffel when looking back upon that time:

(Audio: Interview B. Verschaffel, heading the Discourse and Literature-Section of Antwerp 1993: on Antwerp 1993)

Chapter 04: Legacies of 20 years of Cultural Capitals: from ECCM to the Palmer-Report

Network of European Cultural Capitals and Months

Rodolfo Maslias

The network of European Cultural Capitals and Months (ECCM) has been created for the apparent purpose to share knowledge and expertise so as to facilitate future Cultural Capitals finding their way to an ambitious implementation process. With Spyros Mercouris as its honorary chairman and Rodolfo Masilias as its coordinator, this network of now over 40 cities has a potential to grow as more and more cities shall join once they too have become Cultural Capitals.

Already at the ECCM General Assembly held in Patras March 25 - 28, 2006, cities such as Pécs from Hungary and Istanbul from Turkey were attending. The ECCM network hopes that these newcomers will breathe a new life into the communication process between former and current Cultural Capital cities. Plans are already under way to create an archive by which the experiences made can be documented and preserved. Rodolfo Maslias outlines some of these aspirations when speaking with Heritage Radio Network:

(Audio: Interview with R. Maslias, coordinator ECCM: on ECCM)

A first inspiring but informal meeting, which showed the need to organise knowledge-transfer of experiences made between all organisers of European Cultural Capitals, took already place during Glasgow 1990. Robert Palmer, artistic director of Glasgow 1990, looking back on these days, which prepared the ground for the formation of ECCM in 1996, puts emphasis on this innovative character:

(Audio: R. Palmer, author Palmer-Report: on ECCM)

Already having mentioned Robert Palmer it is unavoidable not referring to the Palmer-Report, which has been authored by him. It is an extensive evaluation-report on 21 cities being either European Cultural Capital or Month and was submitted to the European Union Commission in 2004. Its main objective has been to examine each city’s handling of the event in terms of long-lasting impacts on an overall urban-development of the city in the social, cultural and economic field as well as the European dimension achieved with the event. Its marks an important source of information on European Cultural Capitals, because most cities themselves miss any objective evaluation. One can download a free copy of the report from the website of Palmer & Rae Associates at http://palmer-rae.com/ . Robert Palmer on the Palmer-Report:

(Audio: R. Palmer, author Palmer-Report: on Palmer-Report)

Chapter 05: Challenges of the 21st century on European Cultural Capitals

Hurricane Katrina, New Orleans 2005

military camouflage


Talking about the challenges of the 21st century one's attention is immediately drawn to global issues reaching from ecological matters like 'global warming' to political ones of living in times of a 'permanent war' to social and cultural questions of religion and fanaticism and dominance of media-democracies leaving people rather faithless and cynical. Where then to position the concept of European Cultural Capitals especially in times, when cultural governance and democratic viability sound still promising but are somewhat far from political realities? HRN spoke with Robert Palmer on his vision of the role of Cultural Capitals in the 21st century:

(Audio: Interview with R. Palmer, artistic director of Glasgow 1990 and palmer-Report: on challenges of the 21st century)

A specific characteristic of European cities are their centrality usually not only marked religiously by churches but also culturally and intellectually by opera-houses and academia. For the architecture-theorist and one of the organisers of Antwerp 1993 Bart Verschaffel one important question for future Cultural Capitals to confront in the 21st century is the role of global-scale media, which permeates nowadays nearly every facet of our everyday life, and consequently the city means to be not longer the only physical centre of our action:

(Audio: Interview with B. Verschaffel, architecture-theorist, discourse and literature-section Antwerp 1993: on cities in the 21st century)

In his interview with HRN A. Alatsis, artistic director of Patras 2006, pointed out the important educational role of the Exhibition on the 20 years of history of European Cultural Capitals. The exhibition is organised by the ECCM and shown for the first time in Patras 2006. HRN asked Rodolfo Maslias, coordinator of ECCM, what future tasks he sees for the network and perspectives of the institution of European Cultural Capitals:

(Audio: Interview with R. Maslias. coordinator of ECCM: on future perspectives for ECCM and Cultural Capitals)

Chapter 06: Weimar 1999 - overshadowed by its own legend?

Artistduo: Eva & Adele in front of Goethes Gartenhaus

Exhibition: Rise and Fall of Modernism

Throughout Weimar’s long and, at times, difficult history, this town in Thuringia, Central Germany probably never received as many visitors as in 1999 when Weimar became the European City of Culture. Approximately 7 million tourists flocked to this town of 60,000 inhabitants, hoping to enjoy Weimar’s cultural offerings along with a beer and a Thüringer Bratwurst to help them digest the artistic and intellectual banquet that Weimar laid out before them. The official cultural programme, which took between 2 and 3 years to prepare, began on the 19th February '99 and continued until the 7th December '99. One of the major themes of Weimar 1999 was to highlight the tension between Weimar’s Classical past, concentrating on its most prominent artists of Goethe and Schiller, and the darker aspects of Weimar’s past, which is very clearly represented by Buchenwald Concentration Camp that looms just outside the city.

The City of Culture year offered the opportunity to improve the Buchenwald exhibition by opening up parts of the former concentration camp that had been neglected during GDR times and by putting more emphasis on groups of victims of the camp regime, who had previously played a subordinate role in the Buchenwald memorial place. Perhaps, the most striking monument on the more positive side of Weimar’s history was an exact replica of Goethe’s Gartenhaus in the Ilmpark that was built a minute’s walk away from the original, confusing some of the tourists who were not quite sure which was the original and which was the copy. Part of the motivation behind this building project was to highlight the very confusion between reality and fiction and to point out how people are happy to accept appearance as reality.

The copy was finally sold and moved to a recreation home in the region of Thuringia and with it most of the cultural and political protagonists of Weimar 1999 have left the scene. One wonders what lessons could have been learned being European Cultural City in 1999 by turning the made experiences into a sustainable benefit for the city despite such little continuity in terms of political and organisational personnel. HRN spoke with Bernd Kauffmann, artistic director of Weimar 1999 as well as with Hellmut Seemann, current head of the Classic Foundation of Weimar and second largest cultural institution in Germany after the 'Preussische Kulturstiftung':

(Audio: Interview with B. Kauffmann, artistic director Weimar 1999) (Audio: Interview with H. Seemann, current head of Classic Foundation of Weimar)

Chapter 07: AECC turning the Millennium from Prague 2000 to Kraków 2000

Ostrava Museum

Igor Horváth, Director Ceský Rozhlas Ostrava

Emblem made by Marek Repetowski

Bogusław Sonik, director Krakow 2000

The year 2000 was an exceptional year in the history of the ECCM programme. For the very first and so far the only time 9 cities played the honourable role of being the Cultural Capital at the same time. They were: Avignon (France), Bergen (Norway), Bologna (Italy), Brussels (Belgium), Helsinki (Finland), Kraków (Poland), Prague (the Czech Republic), Reykjavik (Island), Santiago de Compostella (Spain). Those cities did not compete with one another; instead they aimed to carry out together a joint project called AECC, or the Association of European Cities of Culture of the year 2000. The fundamental goal of AECC was to bring nations together by means of their cultures and that is why in these particular cities hundreds of international meetings, concerts and exhibitions took place. The links between the project partners and, at the same time, the fact that the world was entering the third millennium, were underlined by a huge crystal sculpture, Kide, to be found in each of these cities. AECC turned to the future as well. The year 2000 was supposed to start the beginning of an exchange of experience between the cities in the years to come.

Was it successful? Based on the example of Prague and Kraków, we present what has been left from the noble assumptions of the year 2000 and what changes have occurred in the two cities since then.

For example in the Czech Republic there are tens of festivals each year. In 2000 many activities were concentrated in Prague. Did it change the face of the city? Not really. Prague - as the Czech capital - is the most valuable historical city reserve.

In 1992 the historical core of the city covering 866 hectares was listed in the UNESCO World Cultural and Natural Heritage Register. That was before 2000 and it is now the same. Czech citizens see Prague as a tourist attraction with exaggerated prices and filled with foreigners. They can find beauty in many other cities and villages that stand aside of tourist interest. They fight for money from state and Europeans funds to repair buildings impacted by long lasting restitution processes caused by unclear ownership relations. Some of them would be thankful for becoming the European Cultural Capital. The leading message for Prague as the Cultural Capital was Cultural Heritage. It would bring money, they hoped. Gabriela Vsolkova tried to find out for HRN what people thought about the concept.

(Audio: Reporty by Gabriela Vsolkova, Radio Ceský Rozhlas Ostrava)

The Kraków 2000 Programme – the European Capital of Culture centred around three keywords: 'Thought, Spirituality and Creativity'. Its goal was to present significant spiritual, intellectual and artistic values which contribute to the common cultural heritage of both: Kraków and Europe. The 600th anniversary of establishing the Kraków Academy gave an opportunity to present the city as an important centre of European thought. The spiritual character of Kraków was expressed in a number of projects including Codex Calixtinus conceived in Kraków, but carried out with the other European Cities of Culture of the Year 2000. Creativity was the keyword for various events presenting the exuberance of literature, music and art, including Stanislaw Wyspiański and Tadeusz Cantor Festivals. Yet, Kraków did not profit from the fact of being the European cultural capital to make investments, says Bogusław Sonik, Director of Kraków 2000 and deputy now in the European Parliament and a member of the Network of European Cultural Capitals and Months (ECCM).

(Audio: Report by Katarzyna Fortuna & Marianna Knap, Radio Kraków) (Audio: Acoustic postcard of Kraków produced by Radio Kraków)

Chapter 08: Patras 2006, Greek - constructing Europe's future in the last minute

Construction site Patras 2006

A. Alatsis, artistic Director Patras 2006

Stepping out of the shadows of Athens 2004 was not easy for that port city. Even though it was known already in 1999 that Patras would be the European Cultural Capital in 2006, every resource, organisation, person in Greece was devoted to making the Olympic Games in August 2004 a success. Only then, in April. 2005 attention started to focus on what Patras supposed to do. A. Alatsis, artistic director, confesses easily to the fact that this was definitely too late to prepare something profound. But he is of the opinion that the European Cultural Capital concept should be perceived as 'construction site' for the future: not as an end, but as a start of a European debate needed if common people are to feel at home in this Europe which should not be determined solely by EU standards about insurances, environment, financial and legal matters, but by the cultures they live daily, thereby creating these cultures as their breathing space. Hatto Fischer spoke for HRN with both A. Alatsis, artistic director, and Mr. C. Roilos, managing director of Patras 200

(Audio: Interview with A. Alatsis, artistic director Patras 2006: on Ptaras 2006) (Audio: Interview with C. Roilos, managing director of Patras 2006: on Patras 2006)

Chapter 09: The bidders - Pécs 2010, Hungary and Varna 2019, Bulgaria

Pecs 2010 (source: http://pecs2010.hu)

The emblem of Zsolnay Factory (source: http://pecs2010.hu)

Opera of Varna (source: www.moreto.net)

Festival and Congress Center Varna (source: www.moreto.net)

As we heard previously, even though being a Cultural Capital of Europe can be - to say the least - a difficult task, it is a matter of immense prestige to be a part of the Cultural Capital family, and can prove that cultural influence and exchange has much more to it than financial revenue. Therefore, there is a constant ongoing competition among European cities to become a Cultural Capital. Bulgaria, for instance, is already bidding for the 2019 event, and Hungary is keeping its fingers crossed to get the Cultural Capital event in 2010. HRN-Magazine brings you stories about both of those initiatives.

First we shall check how the Hungarian preparations are developing: It was announced in October 2005 that Pécs was suggested to be the European Capital of Culture in 2010. Bidding together with cities like Istanbul but also with either the German-Polish border-city Görlitz-Zgorzelec or Essen from Germany, Pécs represents a decentralized approach in the selection process i.e. away from traditional cultural centres like Budapest.

The reasons of the decision were the regional development, the built and intellectual cultural heritage of the city and the way how the competition can utilize the knowledge of the town and the region. Pécs as a city in South-Hungary can help to open the borders between Croatia and Hungary, between Croatia and the European Union. From last October on there were several debates about the decision but the real work, the preparation has already started in the South-Hungarian city. Dr Kunszt Márta, deputy mayor of Pécs city was interviewed by Gyarmathy Dóra from the Hungarian Radio:

(Audio: Report by Gyarmathy Dóra from the Hungarian Radio)

The preparations for becoming a Cultural Capital are no walk in the park, but nevertheless, it brings a great pride to a nation and a city to be at the top of European cultural pyramid for a year. Bulgaria's city of Varna hopes to get that spot in 2019 and one of the motivators is the fact that no Bulgarian city has so far been a European Capital of Culture. Nevertheless, Bulgaria has some experience in the sponsoring of such events. Coverage: Rep. Svetlana Dicheva from the Bulgarian National Radio.

(Audio: Report by Svetlana Dicheva, Bulgarian National Radio)

Chapter 10: Zagreb 3000 - an artistic criticism

Zagreb Cultural Kapital 3000,

Kulturni Kapital

Even though Croatia's cultural heritage is well known, especially owing to its recent popularity as a tourist destination, this country has never hosted a European Cultural Capital event. However, along with very rich mainstream production of culture, in the Croatia's capitol Zagreb exists a very dynamic independent artistic scene that implements new concepts of cultural production. Interestingly enough, the collaborative platform of those independent organizations is called "Zagreb Cultural Kapital 3000". The name itself is a pun that implicates correlation between various concepts: Capital/Kapital, year 2000/3000. One of the co-founders of this network is performing artist and member of independent group BAD Company and professor at Academy of Drama Arts in Zagreb Goran Sergej Pristas, whom Vid Mesaric spoke to for HRN in Zagreb:

(Audio: Report by Vid Mesaric, Croatian Radio)
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Last updated: 04. October 2006


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