European Capitals of CultureΠοιειν Και Πραττειν - create and do

Developments 2012 - 2017



Since the designation (Aarhus was selected over Sonderborg), Trevor Davis has disappeared. Judging from the official website, the Mayor of Aarhus has taken over directly. Something similar is reported with regards to Wroclaw where the philosopher Adam Chmielewski, responsible for the write-up of the bid, departed at the request of the mayor, although the latter was a former Ph.D. student of the Professor for Philosophy.

The concept of Aarhus has taken on a more definite character insofar as it is less a cultural and much more a city development project to be characterized by multiple non cultural urban projects.


Of course, the ECoC history is full of similar stories as to how easily artistic directors are dropped from one day to the next. Very few manage to stay on board for the entire duration of the project, and even less stay on after that one decisive year is over. Here Eric Antonis of Antwerp '93 is a true exception. Also Bob Palmer and as of late Ulrich Fuchs have proven once the support of the mayor / Municipal Authority has been gained, a successful implementation based on a thought through compromise between cultural and political aspirations can be realized.

Repeatedly the jury would recommend that the city should not wait to hire an artistic director. (see Wroclaw 2016, but also Valletta 2018). If this is not the case, how then do cities make sure the artistic and cultural programme is shaped by a person capable of shaping and then seeing through the programme. If culture takes on value by being consistent over time, then this takes on an extra note of urgency if cities do not follow up the recommendation by the jury.

Of interest is to see what happens when cities wish no longer appoint or hire one single artistic director, but engage a coordination team or a team of artistic coordinators with emphasis on the ability to work together. By this is meant a wish to demonstrate something similar to cultural management and cultural planning. It follows the notion of cultural cooperation in the fields of the arts, but from an official point of view since it will involve agreements with other political authorities at local, regional and even national level. 

Of interest is here what Bob Palmer and Greg Richards write in their Report of 2009:


They conclude the following:

"It would be wrong to suggest that any one model will gurantee success or be free of problems, but it is extremely useful to study what happened in each city." (2)

The Report 2009 contains a list of examples:

- Luxembourg 2007 had a broader coordination model

- Sibiu 2007 chose Christian Radu who came from the event management sector

- Liverpool 2008 lost its original artistic director and hired instead Phil Redmond (television producer) to be Deputy Chair of the Liverpool Culture Company. He was made responsible for the Creative Direction while two 'executive producers' were responsible for the cultural programme.

- Vilnius 2009 opted for a programme director but did not hire an artistic director

- Linz 2009 had Martin Heller as Artistic Director (the exception)

- Essen / Ruhr 2010 adopted a coordination based management model with 4 Operational directors and two general directors

- Istanbul 2010 had nine directors with small advisory boards


In the Report 2009, it is also stated that "the programming management model is only one element of a larger governance question of ECoC." (3)

Of interest is that Aarhus University has taken on board this specific recommendation:


hf (20.10.2013) 29.10.2014

1. Bob Palmer / Rae Associates, Greg Richards (2009) European Cultural Capital, Report Issue 2. PUblished by Atlas (Association for Tourism and Leisure Education), p. 33

2. op. cit., p. 33

3. op. cit., p. 33


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