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 citys aims, successes and shortfalls. It provides an excellent case study of the challenges for low-budget ECOCs. With the unabating economic crisis, Tallinns 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.