European Cultural Capital Report 4

European Cultural Capital Report 4

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Edited by Robert Palmer, Greg Richards and Diane Dodd
Arnhem: ATLAS 106 pp
September 2012

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Main Description

The fourth European Cultural Capital Report is an update on the growing ‘ECOC knowledge bank’ that began with an evaluation report produced for the European Commission (Palmer Report, 2004) and the subsequent European Cultural Capital Reports, volumes I, (2007) II (2009) and III (2011).

The format very much follows that of Report III, which also draws on a wide range of news and trends to compile what the authors believe to be the most useful and interesting current data. Compiling the report involves much research and analysis, and it is hoped that this, as in previous editions, contains up-to-date and relevant information for all those now either planning or studying ECOCs.

As Trevor Davies, Director of the Copenhagen ECOC in 1996 and the Director of Aarhus’ successful bid for the title in 2017 recently commented: ‘the ECOC model fascinates us, but it is also traumatic’. He was alluding to the fact that the ECOC remains one of the most desirable prizes for cities across Europe, but achieving the desired long-term benefits for the city is often a difficult process. Today, cities have to undergo a rigorous selection process (see section 4) with two jury rounds and often invest considerable sums of money in bidding for the title (see section 3.1). In this report we try and identify the potential benefits that cities are seeking or have obtained, the investments require to achieve these, and the factors that affect the ability of different cities to benefit from the programme.

Section 3 of the report contains news, trends and developments and includes a selection of articles on 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 problems in the new Europe and PIIGS countries and emerging new selection criteria. These sections cross-reference a number of ECOCs to highlight emerging trends and raise important questions about the event. Also in section 3 we highlight some critical success factors such as volunteer schemes, entrepreneurship and education strategies, branding of national airlines and new funding models (such as crowdfunding initiatives).

Section 4 looks at the growing need for more transparency under rising cries of foul play in some countries following the selection process. The section highlights particular problems found in Poland and Spain.

Section 5 looks at the future of the ECOCs – 2020 and beyond. It reviews the European Commission proposals on the future of the ECOC programme and assesses what implications these might have for future ECOC cities.
Media attention for ECOC cities as tourist destinations is highlighted in section 6, and includes some new data on current online media coverage of Guimarães and Maribor. This section also provides a review of tourism impacts in different cities, which are often seen as crucial in delivering much sought-after economic benefits.

Section 7 is an update on previous reports and looks at ECOC legacies. In particular we focus on the evaluation reports produced on recent ECOCs and also the longer-term view of ECOC effects discussed at the conference Bruges: The Decade After held in May 2012.

The ECOC case study in this report focuses on Tallinn 2011. Section 8 describes in detail the Estonian city’s aims, successes and shortfalls. It provides an excellent case study of the challenges for low-budget ECOCs. With the unabating economic crisis, Tallinn’s emphasis on developing strong grass-roots support will be interesting for other cities working with low budgets and is a useful example of the kinds of initiatives that can be developed with the involvement of local citizens.

Section 9 lists cultural capitals from around the world from now until 2033! It also reports on the new World Capital of Culture initiative.

Section 10 provides a bibliography of ECOC sources, which lists more than 100 publications since the previous report. With each year that passes it seems there is an increasing body of literature accumulating on the ECOC. Our thanks go to Alexandra Oanca for helping us pull together and edit the bibliography for this edition. This bibliography should be used in conjunction with the sources provided in previous reports.

The authors

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) and Eventful Cities: Cultural Management and Urban Regeneration (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/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

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 has worked for the Council of Europe, evaluating the European Cultural Routes programme. And, as an independent expert advisor on European cultural networking she has carried out consultancy work for cities in preparation for their bid to be European Capital of Culture (most recently Valletta, 2018). She is also the editor for the I and II Handbook on Cultural Management for the European Cultural Foundation (Netherlands) and collaborates with TRAM-Research (UK).

She is a 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 MA 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.

She directed a number of projects for the European Commission on topics related to the development of employment and economic opportunities through cultural and creative projects.

She has worked with and currently maintains relations with a wide range of institutions including 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.

Robert Palmer

Robert Palmer was formerly Director of Culture and Cultural and National Heritage at the Council of Europe. He managed a range of 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).


1 Introduction
2 Methods
3 News, trends and developments
3.1 How much does bidding for the ECOC cost?
3.2 How much does it cost to stage the ECOC?
3.3 Volunteering
3.4 ECOC programming strategies
3.5 Airlines - a crucial success factor?
3.6 New Europe and PIIGS countries provide financial headaches
3.7 From regeneration to peace process
3.8 Developing the European Dimension
3.9 Alternative funding models
4 The ECOC selection process – transparency a growing issue
5 Future of the ECOCs – 2020 and beyond
6 Media attention for ECOC cities as tourist destinations
6.1 An ECOC attention cycle?
7 ECOC legacies – a longer term view
8 Case study Tallinn, 2011
8.1 Introduction
8.2 Aims and objectives
8.3 Organisation
8.4 Budget
8.5 The cultural programme
8.6 Marketing and communications
8.7 Infrastructure
8.8 Cultural spending
8.9 Tourism impacts
8.10 Business and employment impacts
8.11 Legacy of the ECOC
8.12 Critical success factors
8.13 Shortcomings
8.14 Overall conclusions and lessons for other cities
8.15 How does Tallinn 2011 compare with other ECOCs?
9 Cultural Capitals around the world
10 Bibliography
11 Previous report contents

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