Written and edited by Robert Palmer, Greg Richards and Diane Dodd

Arnhem, ATLAS, 92 pp, January 2011

To purchase a copy visit ATLAS

A two day event entitled ‘Celebrating 25 years of European Capitals of Culture’ took place at the Palais de Beaux-Arts in Brussels on 23 and 24th March 2010 (see Section 3.1 of this report). The event was opened by President of the European Commission, José Manuel Barroso, who gave a clap on the back to one of the Commission’s most ‘successful’ initiatives. Both Barroso and EU Commissioner for Culture, Androulla Vassiliou, underlined the importance of the European Capital of Culture concept as a European project, not only by their presence but also in their introductory addresses to the assembled delegates.The event was billed to provide an opportunity for past and future representatives of cities to debate the relative merits and pitfalls of being European Capital of Culture. And, there is plenty to learn and share – by the Commission’s own admission ‘no two cities are alike and no two cities handle the year-long jamboree in the same manner.’ Some observers noted that this might be a problem – that perhaps closer scrutiny of aims and ambitions, size and structure of ECOC events might create more possibilities to develop good policy models. Certainly, the ECOC model has changed over the years – not just in terms of the type of city selected but the size and ambitions of the programme.Bob Palmer looked back over the 25 years of ECOCs comparing it to a growing child which was conceived with a kiss between the late Greek Minister for Culture, Merlina Mercouri and French Minister of Culture, Jacques Lang. The analogy proved to give a good overview of how the ambitions and demands of the ECOC have changed over the years.In summary, the first five years saw capital cities being awarded recognition for their importance as already established cultural capitals. Whereas from 1990, when Glasgow won the title, there was already the idea that the title could help create cultural cities – and thus the award became a torch for cities to hold for one year in recognition of their aims. Later in the proceedings, Bob Scott suggested that receiving the ECOC title was like earning a ‘scholarship’ in order to go forth and do great things.The third European Cultural Capital Report aims to update the wealth of information contained in both previous reports (European Cultural Capital Report volumes I and II produced by Bob Palmer and Greg Richards) and the original evaluation report (produced for the European Commission – Palmer Report, 2004).Given the wealth of information, research and attention focussed on ECOCs it is not surprising that we had editing choices to make. Rather than focussing individually on different ECOCs as often articles in previous reports did, this third report has been able to draw conclusions from multiple examples. Section three on news, trends and development therefore includes articles on common issues such as spiralling bidding costs; risk mitigation planning, the development of regional dimensions and governance problems these sections cross-reference a number of ECOC to highlight emerging trends. Also, in section three we discuss the rising importance of ECOCs and highlight initiatives the world over that are aimed at mirroring the European model’s success.Section four reviews the new ECOC selection process and questions how it will fair in an environment where there is increasing competition from cities to have the title. As this report goes to print, 7 cities have been preselected from a total of 15 cities and are hoping to be the next Spanish European Capital of Culture. The question remains if there is a need for disappointment management programmes in the future!Section 5 follows the format of previous reports in providing an in-depth profile of one particular aspect of the ECOC, in this case the role of tourism. Drawing on data from all ECOCs, but concentrating mainly on recent editions, this review investigates the short and long term impacts of the ECOC on tourism in the host city.

Section 6 looks at ECOC legacies and therefore we felt it fitting to use as our case study the rather overshadowed ECOC from Norway – Stavanger 2008. The case study highlights how the smaller city (paired in 2008 with Liverpool) managed to put its stamp on the year. The report highlights the valuable contribution of Stavanger in ECOC history and puts into question how success is increasingly being measured. Stavanger without a doubt has a success story to tell but it is not easily measurable with statistics. Read on if you would like to develop ideas on how the ECOC can intrinsically transform mindsets and develop an artistic conscience in the most unlikely of settings.

Section 8, aptly titled – cultural capital crazy- highlights the growing popularity of the ECOC model around the world. From private ventures, to open grass-root lobbies, the ECOC not only as an idea but also as a model, is proliferating in strange and surprising ways.

It goes without saying that there is now a massive supply of books, reports and grey literature available directly about and/or related to the ECOC. We hope the bibliography has captured many of the new reports since our last edition. Please remember to use this bibliography in conjunction with the previous reports.

Contents1 Introducton2 Methods3 News, trends and developments3.1 Brussels 25th anniversary event
3.2 Spiralling bidding costs
3.3 From cultural planning to risk mitigation
3.4 2010 Istanbul – serving its citizens?
3.5 The regional dimension?
3.6 ECOC’s under pressure – the effect of the economic recession
3.7 Vilnius and Cork – failed cities?
3.8 Governance problems
3.9 Future candidate cities
3.10 ECOC research4 The ECOC selection process

5 Tourism and the ECOC

6 ECOC legacies and long term planning

7 Case study – Stavanger

8 Cultural capital crazy

9 Bibliography

10 Previous report contents

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