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EUROPEAN COMMISSIONDIRECTORATE-GENERAL FOR EDUCATION, YOUTH, SPORT AND CULTURECulture and creativityEuropean Capitalsof Culture2020 to 2033A guide for cities preparing to bid

European Capitals of Culture 2020 to 2033A guide for cities preparing to bidContentsIntroduction . 4The Decision . 4The selection questionnaire . 4The European Capitals of Culture action . 5Weighing up the pros and cons of bidding . 6A glossary . 8Considering making a bid? . 10When to start? . 10Who can bid and key early factors to consider . 11Understanding the criteria . 13A: Contribution to the long-term cultural strategy . 14B: Cultural and artistic content . 16C: European dimension. 18D: Outreach . 20E: Management . 21Examples of highlighting the European Union ownership of the brandinclude: . 24F: Capacity to deliver . 25The Selection and Designation process . 26Designation as European Capital of Culture . 28The Monitoring Phase. 28The Melina Mercouri Prize . 30Evaluation . 31Legacy . 32An open competition for candidate countries and potential candidates . 32Reports and evaluations on the ECOC programme . 33Further reading. 34Contact . 342

European Capitals of Culture 2020 to 2033A guide for cities preparing to bid3

European Capitals of Culture 2020 to 2033A guide for cities preparing to bidIntroductionThis guide explains the process and criteria for the European Capitalsof Culture (ECOC) action from 2020 to 2033. It is aimed at citiesconsidering making a bid and for preparing their bid.There are two documents which are required reading with this guide.The DecisionThe first is the “Decision”. This is the formal, legal, basis for theECOC action. Although written as a legal document it is easy tounderstand and is available in all the official languages of theEuropean Union (EU).It can be found /?uri CELEX:32014D0445The Decision was agreed in April 2014 by the European Parliamentand all Member States of the EU (led by their ministries responsiblefor culture).It was amended in September 2017 by another Decision of theEuropean Parliament and the Member States (the Council). Thisamending Decision opens the ECOC action to cities in European FreeTrade Association countries which are parties to the Agreement on theEuropean Economic Area (‘EFTA/EEA countries’) and participate in theCreative Europe Union’s funding programme.This amending Decision can be found /?uri CELEX:32017D1545The Decision sets out the background to the action; the objectives,the criteria for selection and the processes of selection, designation,monitoring and evaluation. It sets out how the selection andmonitoring panel of independent experts is formed.The selection questionnaireThe second document is the list of questions that all applicants arerequired to answer in the selection phase. The questions are based onthe Decision and break it down into more practical areas. Candidate4

European Capitals of Culture 2020 to 2033A guide for cities preparing to bidcities complete this questionnaire in their bid-books.The questionnaire is available on the European Commission's websitein the "European Capitals of Culture" capitals-culture en.htmThis guide uses these two documents. The Decision has formalauthority; this guide is explanatory with no formal authority.The European Capitals of Culture actionBy 2020 60 cities will have held the title of European Capital ofCulture. (Until 2001 it was the European City of Culture). It is oftencalled the flagship cultural initiative of the European Union.The ECOC action has evolved considerably since the early yearswhen it was primarily a celebration of the arts in a city. Since the1980s there has been steadily growth in the awareness of the role ofculture in the life of cities: its contribution to citizens' well-being andto the prosperity of a city, as well as its potential to reinforce a city’spositioning on the international map. Many of the cities which haveheld the ECOC title had not only a successful year but havebenefitted from a lasting legacy.Every city considering or actually bidding will have its own localobjectives in line with its own circumstances and priorities. However thisis a European award with standard criteria and objectives defined at EUlevel. Successful cities combine their local objectives with this European(and often international) aspect.Previous ECOCs have reported a legacy based on: The ECOC acting as a catalyst for a step-change in the developmentof a city, or an area of a city.A measurable increase in the self-esteem of citizens and pride in thecity.An increased engagement with the cultural offerings of the city,especially by audiences less likely to attend or participate.A development of new cultural offerings, new skills, newopportunities and new European and international connections forartists and cultural organisations.A greater European and international understanding and profile,often seen in increased tourism and reputation.5

European Capitals of Culture 2020 to 2033A guide for cities preparing to bidThe objectives of the ECOC action are set out in the Decision. Citiesconsidering bidding should study the Decision carefully.Weighing up the pros and cons of biddingHosting a European Capital of Culture is clearly a uniqueopportunity for a city, which can result in positive cultural, socialand economic impact.It can however also be a risky matter for a city. Too often, citiesdon’t reap the full benefits of holding the title or even worse getnegative publicity because they meet challenges they are not wellprepared to face: problems of governance and team building, unduepolitical interferences in the implementation of the year, a weakconnection between the cultural development strategy of the cityand its ECOC-year and no reflection on legacy, insufficient longterm planning, an absence of clear objectives or milestones, thelack of a monitoring process along the way, the lack of in-houseexperience in implementing a year-long cultural event, difficulties indeveloping a project at a European/international level etc.That is why it is essential for a city to consider the followingquestions before even embarking on an ECOC application, whichentails substantial public investment: Do we as a city have – or will we have by the time of theECOC year – the capacity to host a year-long event of thescope and scale of a European Capital of Culture, with hundredsof top-level cultural events spread out throughout the year? Dowe have – or will we have by the time of the ECOC year – tioncapacities and transport connections)? Do we have – or will wehave by the time of the ECOC year – the “humaninfrastructure” which is needed to host an ECOC (an active andwell-connected cultural sector mixing public institutions andNGOs, City Council departments ready to lend a hand, cityvisitor front-line services with the right skills, capacity buildingprogrammes etc.)?Do we have or will we have a strategy to develop thenecessary international connections? Do we have the necessaryin-house expertise to carry out the project from its earlydevelopment through to its preparation, implementation and6

European Capitals of Culture 2020 to 2033A guide for cities preparing to bid evaluation? If in-house expertise is lacking and needs to besupplemented with external expertise and consultancy, how willwe ensure that the project stays authentic and continues to beowned by the city itself, its inhabitants and variousstakeholders, and that the ECOC vision reflects the aspirationsof the many and not of the few?Are we ready as a city to go beyond “business as usual” in thefield of culture? Are we ready to explore news ways of supportingculture, of interacting with our cultural stakeholders and othersectors of city life, of promoting audience engagement in ourvarious neighbourhoods? Can we afford to increase ourinvestment in culture for the ECOC project and maintain theeffort beyond the title year to ensure continuity and legacy?Are we ready as a city to open up to Europe? Are we willing toengage in a dialogue with the rest of Europe and the world andreflect on the contribution we would like to make to the EUintegration project? Are we ready as a city to further explorethe many different cultural expressions – including thosecoming from migrant communities – present in our territoryand expose our population to the richness and diversity ofcultural expressions coming from abroad?Unless your response is “yes” to all the questions above, your city isnot prepared to bid for and to hold the ECOC title.7

European Capitals of Culture 2020 to 2033A guide for cities preparing to bidA glossaryDecisionThe formal legal basis of the ECOC action. It wasagreed in April 2014 by the European Parliamentand the Council of the European Union (all EUMember States’ governments). It governs theECOC action.PanelThe independent experts, who assess bids, makerecommendations on shortlistingand finalselection and who monitor the ECOCs during themonitoring period.CallThe formal request for applications issued by theorganising authority (e.g. Ministry of Culture).Specifies the selection criteria and procedure, andcontains the selection questionnaire for candidatecities.Rules of procedureA formal document issued by the organisingauthority. Specifies the rules of the competition,the composition and functioning of the Panel anddetails regarding the pre-selection and finalselection meetings.Bid-bookThe document submitted by a candidate city inresponse to a call, setting out its objectives,programme etc.Pre-SelectionThe first stage of selection leading to the Panelrecommending a short-list of candidate cities.Final SelectionThe second stage of selection: the short-listedcandidate cities are reduced to a single candidaterecommended by the Panel.DesignationThe legal step: the relevant national authority.Formally designates the recommended candidatecity as the ECOC. The candidate city can now callitself European Capital of Culture.MonitoringThe four years from designation to the year of thetitle when the Panel advises the ECOC.8

European Capitals of Culture 2020 to 2033A guide for cities preparing to bidMelina Mercouri PrizeThe European Commission’s award to the ECOC.Awarded in connection with designation. Paymentis conditional and on recommendation of the Panelat the end of the monitoring phase.Open competitionEvery third year there is an ECOC from anEFTA/EEA country, a candidate country or apotential candidate to EU membership. It uses thesame criteria with a few administrative differences(call and rules of procedure issued by theEuropean Commission and designation by theEuropean Commission).9

European Capitals of Culture 2020 to 2033A guide for cities preparing to bidConsidering making a bid?The Decision sets out the formal process leading to selection. It startswith the call for applications from the relevant national authority. This isnormally the ministry responsible for culture but sometimes they maydelegate the administration to another organisation.When to start?The formal call is published about 6 years before the title-year. It givesa deadline of at least ten months for candidates to submit bids.Experience has shown that most successfulpreparation 2-3 years in advance of this call.ECOCsstarttheirThe Decision lists the rotation of Member States so there is plenty ofnotice of when your country will host the title.Why so far in advance? An ECOC is a complex activity. It is also acompetition. Some reasons for the long development period: The criteria require a city to have a cultural strategy in operation,one linked to the city development strategy. Such strategies taketime to prepare and start implementing. The criteria require a significant engagement with the citizens of acity: many candidates involve schools, universities, youth clubs, civilsociety organisations etc. and with the cultural operators (bothbottom-up and top-down). The private sector, both in the cultural and creative industries and inthe wider business sectors, need to be engaged. The criteria require the necessary links and connections toEuropean and international arts and cultural operators andnetworks etc. Candidates learn from other ECOCs. A bid team needs to be recruited. Momentum needs to build in the city.10

European Capitals of Culture 2020 to 2033A guide for cities preparing to bid There is a lead time for any new cultural infrastructure (and other)projects to be ready by the ECOC year.At this early stage cities need to ask themselves: What are their own objectives? What is their vision for thefuture of the city and the role for culture in this vision? How can these be combined with the ECOC criteria? Why do they want to get the ECOC title? How do they intend theirECOC to leave its mark on the ECOC history and bring it to newuncharted territories? Is there sustainable cross-party political support? Experience hasshown that there may be a change in political leadership in a citybetween the start of a bid and the eventual ECOC year.Who can bid and key early factors to considerThe size of a city is not a factor. Cities of over 1 million and cities withless than 100,000 inhabitants have been ECOCs. The human andfinancial capacity of a city as well as its capacity in terms of physicalinfrastructure and cultural critical mass is a factor however.Cities may involve their surrounding areas (i.e. neighbouringcities or regions). This happened, for example, in 2007 whenLuxembourg involved the transnational Grande Région; in 2010 whenEssen led the Ruhr region; in 2012 when Maribor involved 5 other citiesin eastern Slovenia; in 2013 when Marseilles-Provence involved 90% ofthe department of Bouches-du-Rhône or in 2015 when Mons workedintensively with the neighbouring Hainaut region. However one citymust be the lead city for the purpose of accountability andresponsibility. The lead city is the official bidder.A forward-looking programme. A city is not awarded the title basedon its cultural heritage or its current vibrant cultural offerings. Thesemay act as a basis for a bid but not the bid itself. (An ECOC is not avariation on the UNESCO or European heritage labels). A city isawarded the title based on its future programme for the ECOC year setout in its bid-book.11

European Capitals of Culture 2020 to 2033A guide for cities preparing to bidNot business as usual. Some candidates have submitted bids bypulling together their existing cultural activities under an “ECOC”banner. They were not successful. The ECOC is awarded on the basisof a specific programme over and above the normal cultural activity ofa city.There is no standard template for your programme. Every city isunique. Its programme reflects its needs and objectives whilst meetingthe formal ECOC criteria.Not a tourist-led project. One of the objectives of the programme is toraise the international profile of a city through culture. Most ECOCshave experienced an increase in tourism; this is a success factor inmany ECOCs. However the main focus of an ECOC programme is onthe citizens, in particular those of the city, and their connection withculture and Europe.There is no requirement to have a vast number events andprojects. Your programme needs to fit your objectives, and financing.Do not over-reach your management or your citizens.A European (international) programme. This is a European project.Programmes must highlight both the common features and the diversityof cultures in Europe. The overall vision of the event must beEuropean and the programme must have an appeal at European –and international – level.It is a cultural project. Many ECOCs have gained significanteconomic or social benefits from an ECOC: city infrastructure, physicalregeneration, inward investment, increased pride in the city etc.These are positive side benefits that show how culture impacts cango beyond culture itself. At its heart the ECOC is a cultural projectaimed at citizens, artists and cultural operators and those who use theircreativity skills in many sectors of society.A city can challenge itself. An ECOC is an opportunity to exploreopenly and critically a city’s history, including its darker side. Forexample Donostia San Sebastian2016 focused on the concept ofcoexistence trying to overcome former conflicts between communities.Riga2014 tackled the issues of the German and Soviet occupations.Linz2009 tackled its connection with the Nazi period. Liverpool2008explored its role in the slave trade.It is a long-term commitment. The preparation, development and12

European Capitals of Culture 2020 to 2033A guide for cities preparing to biddelivery periods take 6-7 years of sustained, continual effort. Thelegacy lives on; many ECOCs are still benefitting from their yeardecades later. Others, less successful, have to deal with the negativeconsequence of failing to live up to expectations. Holding an ECOC titlebrings considerable benefits to those cities willing to committhemselves.How to start? A good place to start is to visit other current ECOCs,read their bid-books (most put them on their website), see them inaction. There are two ECOCs each year and 8 cities already designatedand in their preparation period: plenty to choose from.Understanding the criteriaThe Decision sets out the six categories of criteria used in theselection process. The Panel’s recommendation is based on a globalassessment taking into account the six categories, as experience hasshown that all six are required to ensure a successful ECOC.They must be seen by cities as a useful tool to conscientiouslyprepare not only when bidding for the title but also when planning thetitle-year. They are here to help them make the most of theircandidacy and – whatever the outcome of the competition – learn andbenefit from this experience. As each competition leads to thedesignation of one city only, it is essential that all candidate citiesreflect from an early stage

European Capitals of Culture 2020 to 2033 A guide for cities preparing to bid 5 cities complete this questionnaire in their bid-books. The questionnaire is available on the European Commission's website

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