European Capitals of CultureΠοιειν Και Πραττειν - create and do

2000 - nine cities

At the turn of the millennium the European Commission decided to give simultaneously to nine cities the designation of being during that special year European Capitals of Culture.

On the official website the European Commission declared that:

“Several million European people will take part this year in the numerous cultural events organised by the European Culture of the year 2000, and this in following cities:









Santiago de Compostela

The European Cities of Culture, which are a major operation by the European Union, are a way of bringing together thousands of people involved in culture from the European Union and the associated European countries and of encouraging cooperation between them in the areas of live performances, theatre, historical monuments, urban culture, street arts and the new forms of artistic expression that use the new technologies.

In the year 2000, the European Commission is providing financial support for many cultural events of the nine European Cities of Culture, with the dominant theme of Europe under the “Culture 2000” programme, which is a new framework programme to assist culture.

The many cultural events of the nine European Cities of Culture, with the dominant theme of Europe show the importance that the European Union attaches to making Europe a vast area of cultural creation and cooperation by which Europeans can develop an awareness of the richness of their common cultural heritage, the vitality of creation in Europe and the new opportunities provided by the development of cultural cooperation, including in terms of social integration, development of the economy and employment.

Conceived as a means of bringing Europe closer to the citizen, the European City of Culture was launched in 1985 by the Council of Ministers on the initiative of Mrs. Melina Mercouri.”

During the year 2000 the nine cities have organised joint projects, here are some of the outstanding ones



Most notable was a novel experiment called Café 9 which operated for two months by linking all nine (eventually only eight joined) cities through a vertical and horizontal discussion about projects going on in the various cities. This included 'fear in the city' and 'my favourite route' (may it be to school or to work by street car or on foot). They were discussed via video conference link-ups with a voice moderator letting Helsinki or Brussels speak while everyone could see the respective projects on their own video screen. This made conceivable that in near future horizontal discussions between cities would make possible the setting of the 'urban agenda' in Europe. At the same time, the artists who participated really tested to the limits the new technologies as to what they could convey or transport in terms of demanding content. All companies became interested in this work at a technical frontier in need to define itself. Thus it became a fruitful learning field for everyone, including IT companies. That made this experience of CAFE 9 so outstanding. Even ten or more years later it can still be considered an innovative model showing the value when working together with artists can mean many more things, including the discovery of how to proceed in refining existing technology. Altogether it opened 'eyes' for what is possible but unfortunately cities in Europe still do not set the urban agenda while technology within the spheres of cultural and creative industries has taken a turn towards other, non artistic but much more commercial domains.

The Voices of Europe

A choir of 90 young singers from the nine European Capitals of Culture accompanied the Icelandic singer Björk in Reykjavik. This was followed up in the other eight cities. For this the composer Arvo Pärt has made a new composition.

Hotel Europe

This was a co-production project involving ten directors, choreographers and stage artists. Each one of them created their own bedrooms in the towns which have a 'Hotel Europe'. A travelling exhibition of photographs connected the nine cities.

City link

A network of cooperation between the cultural information departments of the 'European Cities of Culture' ensured the best possible media coverage of the main events and made it possible that these programmes are broadcast throughout Europe.

Theatre festival

The aim was to familiarise Western European audiences with the theatre of central and eastern Europe (Estonia, Lithuania, Latvia, Bulgaria, Hungary, Czech Republic). Co-productions thereof were presented at the Hamburg and Berlin Festivals and at the Avignon Festival of 2000.



More information about projects realized during that year 2000 can be obtained from the report

"European Cities of Culture for the Year 2000" by Giannalia Cogliandro


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