European Cultural Capital Report Volume 5 Published

The fifth European Cultural Capital Report adds to and compliments a whole set of previous reports that began with an evaluation report produced for the European Commission (Palmer Report, 2004) and then subsequent European Cultural Capital Reports, volumes I (2007) II (2009), III (2011) and IV (2012).  The fact that these reports have increased in frequency, is testament to the ever growing interest that the ECOCs are generating. This is also underlined by the mushrooming ECOC bibliography collected by the successive reports. The current volume lists more than 70 sources published between 2011 and 2013. The complete bibliography available across the five volumes now comprises over 300 sources.

The format very much follows that of previous reports, drawing attention to what we consider to be the most interesting trends, news and, good as well as poor practice, in the designing and execution ECOC events.   Bringing this report to fruition involves a great deal of research and analysis, that we hope will serve, as in previous editions, to inform, support and challenge all those now planning an ECOC and/or studying this phenomena.

As in previous editions, Section 3 of the report reviews trends and developments that have caught our attention during the last year. The subjects selected are normally issues that are common to a number of ECOCs, such as bidding costs for an ECOC, per capita cultural spend in different ECOCs,  ECOC programming strategies, financial headaches with the seemingly unabating euro zone economic downturn, as well as a new section looking at European airlines growing (but still limited) interest in ECOC destinations.  In this section we aim to cross-reference a number of ECOCs to uncover emerging trends and focus attention in areas of the event.  Also in section 3 we look at a number of ECOCs that have the specific goal of tackling thorny cultural conflicts.

Section 4 reviews the findings of the recent review of the ECOC programme commissioned by the European Parliament, and asks whether the really important questions about the ‘success’ of the programme have been posed.

Section 5 looks at the ECOC selection process and some of the debates that were raised in the Dutch race which was won by Leeuwarden (the dark horse). This section includes the main conclusions from a baseline study conducted by researchers at Tilburg University on BrabantStad’s candidacy.

Section 6 asks whether social media is a ‘must’ or a ‘gimmick’ and provides results from an ART-idea survey into social media tool uses in ECOCs, past, current and future. The section goes on to further ask if the tools are effective in engaging with citizens given apparent low usage and presents some innovative uses of new media tools.

Section 7 looks at ECOC evaluation and the way in which this has developed over the course of the ECOC programme.

Section 8 then examines the longer term legacies of a number of ECOC events, and the extent to which they have delivered the expected benefits.

Section 9 is the ECOC case study and in this report it focuses on Guimarães 2012. Section 9 describes in detail the Portuguese city’s aims, successes and shortfalls. It provides another excellent case study to add to those in previous reports (Lille 2004, Luxemburg and Greater Region 2007, Stavanger 2008 and Tallinn 2011). The analysis outlines the challenges of organising an ECOC in the face of the unabating economic crisis, which is gradually being considered as a new economic reality.  Like Tallinn, Guimarães placed an emphasis on developing strong grass-roots support.

Section 10 lists cultural capitals from around the world for the coming 10 years, as well as the upcoming World Capital of Culture title.

Section 11 provides a bibliography of more the new ECOC research sources published between 2011 and 2013.


A report by Greg Richards, Diane Dodd and Robert Palmer

Issue no. 5

February 2014

122 pages

Published by the Association for Tourism and Leisure Education
PO Box 3042
6802 DA Arnhem
The Netherlands
To order: ATLAS Web Shop


ECOC Report                                       CONTENTS                                                    

1.     Introduction

2.     Methods

3.     News, trends and developments

3.1             Bidding for the ECOC and dealing with disappointment

3.2             Infrastructure projects winning citizen support?

3.3             Audience development – a new Commission priority

3.4             Airlines getting the ECOC bug

3.5                    European Dimension – a balancing act

3.6                    ECOC glory snatching

3.7             Before and after the ECOC

3.8             Culture and conflict

4. European Capitals of Culture: Success Strategies and Long-Term Effects

5. ECOC selection process  – lessons from the Dutch selection for 2018

6. Social media innovations – a gimmick or god send?

7. Evaluation – impacts and indicators

8. ECOC legacies – a longer term view

9. Case study Guimarães 2012

9.1             Introduction

9.2             Aims and objectives

9.3             Organisation

9.4             Budget

9.5             The cultural programme

9.6             Marketing and communications

9.7             Infrastructure

9.8             Tourism impacts

9.9             Image impacts

9.10           Business and employment impacts

9.11           Legacies of the ECOC

9.12           Critical success factors

9.13           Shortcomings

9.14           Overall conclusions and lessons for other cities

9.15           How does Guimarães 2012 compare with other ECOCs?


10. Cultural Capitals around the world

11.  Bibliography – collected sources 2012-2013

12.  Previous report contents



Greg Richards

Greg Richards is Professor of Leisure Studies at Tilburg University and Professor of Events at NHTV Breda University of Applied Sciences in the Netherlands. He has conducted extensive research on cultural and creative tourism over the past 20 years, producing major texts on Cultural Tourism in Europe (1996); Cultural Attractions and European Tourism (2001); Tourism and Gastronomy (2002); The Global Nomad: Backpacker Travel in Theory and Practice (2004); Cultural Tourism – Global and Local Perspectives (2007) Tourism, Creativity and Development (2007), Eventful Cities: Cultural Management and Urban Regeneration (2010) and Exploring the Social Impact of Events (2013).

As co-originator of the ‘creative tourism’ concept, he has worked on projects for numerous national governments, national tourism organisations and municipalities. He has worked extensively on the analysis and development of cultural and creative tourism in cities such as Barcelona (ES), Budapest (HU), London, Newcastle, Manchester and Edinburgh (UK) Amsterdam, Rotterdam and Den Bosch (NL), Porto (PT), Sibiu (RO), Amman (Jordan) and Macau (China). He directed a number of projects for the European Commission on topics including cultural tourism, crafts tourism, sustainable tourism, tourism education and labour mobility in the tourism industry.

He has an extensive career in tourism research and education, with previous posts at London Metropolitan University (UK), Universitat Roviria I Virgili, Tarragona (Spain) and the University of the West of England (Bristol, UK). He has also been a European Union Marie Curie Fellow at the Interarts Foundation in Barcelona.

He was a member of the Palmer/Rae team evaluating the impact of the European Cities of Culture (ECOC) for the European Commission, an international jury member for the selection of the Hungarian Capital of Culture in 2010, a contributor to the European Travel Commission study of City Tourism and Culture and an adviser on the development of national cultural tourism policy in Austria. He has advised the Dutch city of Den Bosch on the development of multi-annual cultural events programme to celebrate the 500th anniversary of the painter Hieronymus Bosch. In 2007 he conducted the evaluation research for both of the ECOC – Luxemburg and Sibiu (Romania), and he is conducting long term-evaluation of the cultural, economic and social impacts of the Sibiu event. He is currently directing research on the impacts of the 2012 ECOCs in Guimaraes and Maribor.


Diane Dodd 

Dr. Diane Dodd has worked in the field of international cultural co-operation for over 20 years. She is Director of IGCAT (International Institute of Gastronomy, Culture, Arts and Tourism) where she has co-founded the European Region of Gastronomy award. She is also European coordinator for the global network IFACCA (International Federation of Arts Councils and Cultural Agencies).  She leads an MA course in Cultural Institutions and Policies for the International University of Catalonia in Barcelona, and is a visiting lecturer on many other European courses.  For four consecutive years she has been selected as an independent evaluator for the Cultural Routes programme of the Council of Europe. She is also the editor of three Cultural Policy Research Award publications provided by the European Cultural Foundation (ECF) and the Riksbankens Jubileumsfond.

She is co-author of the third, fourth and fifth European Capitals of Culture Report (published by ATLAS in 2014, 2012 and 2011) and she edited Handbook I and II on Cultural Management for the European Cultural Foundation (2010, Netherlands).  She has provided expert advise to Plovdiv 2019, Fundación Valletta 2018 and Fundación Burgos 2016 in preparation for their respective bids to be European Capital of Culture.

Earlier in her career she founded ConnectCP – an international online database of experts on cultural policy, planning and research which gave international networking opportunities to more than 1,200 experts from 128 countries and she co-authored the book entitled ‘a Cultural Component as an integral part of the EU’s Foreign Policy?’ – which looks at foreign cultural policies and the state of international cultural co-operation in EU member states and which led to this subject being addressed by Foreign Institutes at the Hague in 2007.

Diane has worked for and maintains relations with the European Commission (Directorate General for Regional Policy and Directorate General for Education and Culture); UNESCO; the Council of Europe; the Boekmanstichting Study Centre for Arts and Culture; Interarts Foundation (Spain); the European Cultural Foundation (Netherlands); CIRCLE (Cultural Information and Research Centres Liaison in Europe); (European portal for cultural co-operation); (Cultural Mobility Information Network); the European League of Institutes of the Arts (ELIA); the International Network for Contemporary Performing Arts (IETM) and the London School of Economics.

She obtained her PhD from the University of Girona in 2010.


Robert Palmer

Robert Palmer is an independent international consultant who works globally on many different projects, which includes European Capitals of Culture, cultural policy and strategy for cities and national governments, the development of festivals and events, and processes of organisational change. He was formerly Director of Culture and Cultural and Natural Heritage at the Council of Europe (2006-2013), where he managed 60 different programmes including the monitoring of cultural and heritage policies, capacity building projects and training seminars, and activities linked to cultural diversity, intercultural dialogue, as well as managing major European artsexhibitions (

Robert Palmer has worked professionally in the cultural sector for more than 40 years, and has advised governments, cities, regions and cultural organisations in some 50 countries on cultural development and regeneration, cultural tourism, festivals and arts policies. He has been consultant to cultural foundations, cultural networks, arts organisations, and intergovernmental bodies such as the European Cultural Foundation, the European Commission, UNESCO and United Cities and Local Governments.

He has been very involved in European Capitals of Culture and was the Director of two – Glasgow (1990) and Brussels (2000), and published a major study for the European Commission, which evaluated 20 capitals of Culture. He has also been an advisor to many successful European Capitals of Culture, including Antwerp, Lille, Luxembourg, Liverpool, Turku, Essen, Istanbul, and most recently Leeuwarden. During this career, he has been the Director of Drama, Dance and Touring at the Scottish Arts Council, and the first Director of Arts for the City of Glasgow.

Robert Palmer is a Board member of various arts institutions and international festivals, the Chair of European arts juries, and is asked regularly to speak at international cultural conferences and workshops. He has been given various awards in recognition of his work in the UK, Belgium, Ukraine and France. He teaches programmes on cultural policy and planning, and on festivals and events for the University of British Columbia (Canada). He was a co-author (with Greg Richards) of the book “Eventful Cities: Cultural Management and Urban Revitalisation” (2010), and lectures and gives workshops globally.

© ATLAS and the authors 2014

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