European Cultural Capital Report 3

European Cultural Capital Report 3

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Edited By Robert Palmer, Greg Richards and Diane Dodd
Arnhem, ATLAS, 92 pp
January 2011

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Main Description

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.
The authors

Robert Palmer is the Director of Culture and Cultural and National Heritage at the Council of Europe, based in Strasbourg, France. The Council of Europe now has 47 member states, and the Culture and Heritage Directorate manages more than 60 different work programmes including the monitoring of cultural and heritage policies, capacity building projects and training seminars, and activities linked to cultural diversity, intercultural dialogue to major exhibitions (

Robert Palmer has worked in the cultural sector for more than 30 years, and prior to joining the Council of Europe in 2006 was an expert independent adviser to governments, cities and regions in more than 20 countries on cultural development and regeneration, cultural tourism, festivals and arts policies, and a consultant to cultural foundations, cultural networks, arts organisations, and intergovernmental bodies such as the European Cultural Foundation, the European Commission and UNESCO.

He has been very involved in European Capitals of Culture and was the Director of two - Glasgow (1990) and Brussels (2000) and published a study for the European Commission, which evaluated 20 capitals of Culture. 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 n the UK, Belgium, Ukraine and France. He is currently the Chair of the Board of Visiting Arts in the UK, and Chair of the jury for the Princess Magritte Award for Diversity (The Routes Award).

Greg Richards is Professor of Leisure Studies at Tilburg University 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) and Eventful Cities: Cultural Management and Urban Regeneration (with Robert Palmer, 2010).

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 Report 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.

Diane Dodd is a co-founder of ARTidea and has been working in the field of international cultural co-operation and local strategies for cultural development for nearly 20 years. Since 2007, Diane has worked for IFACCA (International Federation of Arts Councils and Cultural Agencies) on European affairs and is a contributor to IFACCA’s international news bulletin, ACORNS. In 2006, she developed and continues to co-ordinate ConnectCP - an international online database of experts on cultural policy, planning and research.

She collaborates with TRAM-Research (UK) and carries out consultancy work for cities in preparation for their bid to be European Capital of Culture (most recently Burgos, 2016). She is the editor for the I and II Handbook on Cultural Management for the European Cultural Foundation (Netherlands).

She is a permanent lecturer on the ‘International Masters in Cultural Management’ course at the International University of Catalonia in Barcelona, as well as a visiting lecturer on many other European courses. 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 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); (European portal for performing artists mobility); 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.

1 Introducton

2 Methods

3 News, trends and developments

3.1 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 research

4 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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