What is ECOC?

Ujęcie z drona przedstawiające balony na ogrzane powietrze przed pałacem w Pszczynie
Zdjęcie: Radosław Kaźmierczak / Instytucja Kultury Ars Cameralis

Each year, two or three cities of the European Union, EFTA or candidate countries are awarded the title of European Capital of Culture (ECOC). In 2029, it will be one city from Poland and one from Sweden.

Over the course of a year, the selected cities will carry out a specially prepared cultural programme, showcasing their heritage and potential on the European stage while becoming ambassadors for the region and the country. Indeed, the ECOC project is geared towards promoting Europe’s cultural diversity, safeguarding local identities and fostering universal values – ones that will enrich the life of the entire European community.

Initially, the ECOC title honoured the cultural achievements of large metropolises, but today smaller cities and even small towns are successfully competing for the title. The title becomes an opportunity to overcome weaknesses or solve problems, not only those directly related to culture.

The candidacy process not only activates residents and encourages their participation in the cultural and social life of the city, but also helps to define the challenges of local communities, identifies perspectives for development and provides pathways to solving problems. The process enables the creation of a network of local, supra-regional and transnational connections that promote the free flow of ideas and boost tourism and trade exchanges. Culture acts as a flywheel, driving the development of the city and the region in all areas of life.

Experience to date shows that winning the ECOC title has had a very positive and long-term impact on all areas of the host cities’ operations. This was the case in the Polish capitals of culture – in 2000 in Krakow and 2016 in Wrocław. Cities that have not succeeded in winning the title also benefit from the social, cultural, economic and intellectual activation resulting from the candidacy process itself.

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