European Capitals of Culture are back on track

November 26, 2021, 9:12 am

European Capitals of Culture (ECoCs) are back on track. After a gap semester as a consequence of the pandemic and the lockdown measures, ECoCs will resume their activities as planned in 2022. The topic was discussed extensively with the European Commission during a recent meeting of the CULT Committee of the European Parliament. The next ECoCs, Esch-sur-Alzette (Luxembourg), Kaunas (Lithuania) and Novi Sad (Serbia) are ready for 2022. The three cities held a joint press event on the 22nd of September, where they revealed the full extent of their programs for the year. Along with the press conference, Kaunas also hosted the ECoC Forum as well as the informal ECoC family meeting on 22-24 September. Culture Action Europe was there and presented the Capacity building for ECoCs project (2019-2022) jointly implemented by AEIDL, Interarts, ENCATC and UCLG. 

Due to the pandemic, the European Commission decided in summer 2020 to modify the calendar of the European Capitals of Culture for the following years. Rijeka (Croatia) and Galway (Ireland), ECoCs 2020, were given the possibility to have their title year prolonged until 30 April 2021, while the title year of Timisoara (Romania) and Elefsina (Greece) was moved from 2021 to 2023, and that of Novi Sad from 2021 to 2022.  

During the debate in the CULT Committee, several questions were raised regarding the impact of the pandemic on the ECoCs, the long-term regional contributions of the European Capital of Culture, the availability of financial resources, capacity building and networking opportunities, as well as the ECoCs alignment with the New European Bauhaus (NEB) initiative. MEPs were vocal about a wide range of issues, including the need of long-term monitoring about the impact of ECoCs on regional development, as well as the urgency to create more networking platforms for European Capitals of Culture to share their experiences and expertise, so to enhance capacity building opportunities especially for those candidate cities that did not were not selected. On the financial side, MEPs elaborated on the need to raise funds beyond the 1.5 million euros envelope represented by the Melina Mercouri Prize of the Commission, via Creative Europe, and to complement it with fresh fundings coming from local, regional and national authorities of the concerned Member State.

These days, Culture Action Europe is participating in the 3rd Academy Camp organised within the framework of Capacity Building for the ECoCs project taking place in hybrid format between 24 and 26 November 2021 in Veszprém-Balaton 2023 under the title “Enhancing European and international cooperation of ECoCs”.

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