European Capitals of CultureΠοιειν Και Πραττειν - create and do

International Capital of Culture

One definite impact of Essen having become Ruhr 2010 and therefore including 54 cities is that the scale in correspondence to other cities which have been European Capitals of Culture changes. The alteration from one to many cities even if they aspire to become one Metropolis has consequences for the Institution of European Capitals of Culture. Bob Scott was angry at this conversion while the organisers of Ruhr 2010 insisted it was always clear from the beginning that this was the intention when putting Essen up front for the bid. Essen won over Goerlitz in the final round of cities competing for the designation. Both Bob Palmer and Juergen Mittag comment on the significance of this alteration.

However, it becomes more explicit when following information made available on the official website of Ruhr 2010 is taken into account. First of all, it takes things to an international level while claiming to be a part of a network which excludes former European Capitals of Culture. As this has ramification for how the institution of European Capitals of Culture is being maintained by keeping former, current and future cities in contact, the move to create such a new network - until recently it was called but an informal network - means staking claims over and beyond the very institution which had helped to give Germany this opportunity. Secondly, the international orientation of the network has the claim of wishing to promote the dialogue between cultures and goes a long way to substantiate the need for EU foreign policy to be enriched by giving it a cultural dimension. This has consequences insofar as cultural institutes like Goethe, Institute Francaise, British Council have tried and attempted to create a common network to represent European culture abroad. Yet the fine line of division between European cultural policy and national interests in promoting own products means yet another way of using culture to market things internationally.

Definitely the impact of this upon future discussions will be quite severe as it limits the heritage of the European Capitals of Culture to cities which have been holding this title as recently as only Liverpool '08. It follows the break-up of the ECCM network under the guidance and influence of Spyros Mercouris, the first coordinator of a European Capital of Culture when Athens carried that title for the first time in 1985. The reasons for the break-up of the ECCM Network are well known but even if preference was given to the functioning of a more informal network, this new international network operates on excluding other cities. With 2010 having been designated by the European Commission to combat social exclusion and poverty, the question is of utmost importance insofar as here an exclusive practice is being institutionalised with far reaching consequences.

Already the idea of creating a 'network of networks' was discussed at the ECCM Symposium held in Athens in 2005 and taken up again two years later at its symposium 'Productivity of Culture'. In other words, the idea has been floating around but now it has taken on another form.

HF 19.10.2010


International Capital of Culture

RUHR.2010 GmbHInternational Relations

Official text on the website:

"It is not only essential that the programme of a European Capital of Culture includes international elements - the work itself needs to be coordinated internationally and to be fully representative at the European level. RUHR.2010 is not just a regional project, but a major national event attracting international interest.

The European Capital of Culture initiative has gained considerably in national and international importance during the past years. Alone, politics and the economy are apparently not - or no longer - able to communicate the idea of Europe. This is why culture - as an element of the new Europe capable of creating identity - has managed to make it to the very top of the agenda of dialogue between European countries.

The current and future European Capitals of Culture have picked up on this new dimension. As "European Capitals of Culture" (ECOC) they have created a new network and have strengthened their cooperation. This process has been particularly driven by RUHR.2010, Istanbul 2010 and Liverpool 2008. Being this self-assured and proactive is something new in the history of the Capitals of Culture. Co-productions and networking have become the standard. Beyond that, RUHR.2010 is also engaged in consulting work with towns and cities that are currently participating in the application process of future Capital of Culture countries in 2015 and 2019. These contacts have the capacity to become high-level success stories of networking on a European level.

For RUHR.2010 this also means contributing to the European dialogue on culture through its own nominated permanent representatives. RUHR.2010 is part of the network of the European Capitals of Culture, the EUROCITIES platforms, Les Rencontres and institutions such as A Soul For Europe, as well as the Deutsche Vereinigung der Europäischen Kulturstiftung (German Forum of the European Cultural Foundation). The annual conference of "Les Rencontres" is, in fact, going to be held in Essen in October 2010.

In order to promote its cultural agenda internationally, RUHR.2010 cooperates with a range of influential partners. The Goethe Institute has been closely involved. The exchange with the Department of Foreign Affairs, the Federal Government Commissioner for Culture and Media, the Office of the Federal President and the State Chancellery of North Rhine-Westphalia gives RUHR.2010 political leverage at a national and international level.

RUHR.2010 also runs regular events relating to projects that are in the pipeline for the European Capital of Culture as part of the representations made by North Rhine-Westphalia to federal agencies and agencies of the European Union in Berlin and in Brussels.

The international aspects of a European Capital of Culture are not only apparent in its contacts, networks and communication methods. The programme itself is strongly influenced by international and particularly European features. This meets one of the main criteria of the European Commission in Brussels, namely that the concept should contain a visible "European dimension". And it is in this regard that RUHR.2010 is cooperating especially closely with the other two European Capitals of Culture 2010: Istanbul in Turkey and Pécs in Hungary. Together this makes a trio that could not be more different - in terms of dimension, mentality and concept. This also holds true for the forms of cooperation as these are equally diverse. All three cities are, for instance, involved in the joint Temporary City project. Projects such as the "Karawane" or "move to 10" are taking place as part of the TWINS initiative. The RUHR.2010 programme is not only enhanced by such trilateral projects, but also by innumerable bilateral collaborations. Apart from this, there are also contacts with other European Capitals of Culture which are participating in various projects. These are currently Linz 2009, Turku 2011, Marseille Provence and Košice 2013.

At the national European level, the Netherlands is the closest cooperation partner of RUHR.2010. The Dutch cultural and creative scene can therefore also be experienced as part of more than 50 projects large and small taking place in the Ruhr Metropolis during 2010. Countless artists from our neighbouring country will be participating in the larger RUHR.2010 projects. In addition, Dutch cultural institutions and cities as well as Dutch artists and creative minds are developing a colourful programme of their own involving theatre, music, fine arts, landscaping and architecture, design and the creative industries by closely cooperating with local partners from the Ruhr. The Dutch, who are themselves guests of the Ruhr region, will also be creating some unusual dwellings and will thereby temporarily be playing the role of the host – or rather the role of the "guest host" – see "GastGastgeber". The Consulate General of the Netherlands in Düsseldorf, with which RUHR.2010 has been cooperating for a number of years, offers an overview of all these projects on

RUHR.2010 thinks, speaks and acts internationally and is hoping to continue to do so after 2010."


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