Why are we running?
A year of investment, events, projects and cultural initiatives at the highest level, with significant financial participation from the European Union, is incentive enough, but there are many more pluses to being a candidate for the ECOC title.
The candidature process activates, strengthens and integrates creative communities – local artists can share their work with the world, gain new audiences and conquer previously unreachable markets. Creative projects are emerging leading to surprising and fresh results. In turn, residents can experience a rich cultural offer, created on the basis of supra-regional and transnational cooperation.
Using culture as a leaven to discuss issues relevant to local communities often leads to solutions. Whether it is the lack of sewerage, pollution, brain drainage, exclusion of social groups, the effects of transformation or the lack of communication between the city and the surrounding municipalities – all these problems have a universal, European dimension. Many of these have been overcome in the European Capitals of Culture precisely because of candidacy activities.
You don’t have to win the title to feel all the benefits mentioned above. The submission of a candidature necessitates action to activate everyone: from residents to institutions, the third sector, officials and municipal authorities. Any application that progresses to the next stage must include a programme to stimulate development and bring sustainable benefits, even if the European Capital of Culture title goes to another city.
The ECOC is also a great opportunity to develop and create new links between business and the creative community. The ECOC brand makes it easier for artists and cultural operators to get funding, and for entrepreneurs to make a good investment in culture. In turn, the increased recognition of the city on the national and international stage translates into the recognition of local business – especially entrepreneurs who are actively involved in ECOC-related activities. Particularly for small and medium-sized companies, this is a powerful development boost.
The fact that the host city is able to realise a multi-year cultural project regardless of possible changes in local and national politics increases its attractiveness in the eyes of investors. The fact that the city is among the finalists shows that its cultural, artistic, economic and organisational potential has been positively verified by European experts.
The European Capitals of Culture are popular with tourists. Importantly, these are tourists focused not only on attending specific events, but also on discovering interesting places and learning about local colour. This clearly develops the catering and hospitality industry and indirectly contributes to overall economic growth and creates new jobs.