European Capitals of CultureΠοιειν Και Πραττειν - create and do

Culture and Economy - Joanna Sanetra Szeliga



Culture and Economy – a possible dialogue about new policy measures

In the past years many cities have chosen cultural and art projects as ways of stimulating development and urban regeneration. One of the most known examples is the regeneration of Bilbao, including such flagship projects like the Guggenheim Museum, the Euskalduna Congress and Music Hall, which turned a crumbling industrial centre into a flourishing city ready for the new millennium challenge. Another great example here would be Glasgow, which is one of the few European Capitals of Culture associated with broad transformation and successful culture-led regeneration programme – to some extend a benchmark for all the other cities. The presentation will try to answer the following questions in this context. What makes some cities more successful than the other in implementing culture-led development plans? Why in some cities cultural events have a great impact on the development? In the case of Kraków, unlike Glasgow, the title of European Capital of Culture had little influence on the city’s condition. What went wrong? In the first years of Polish membership in the EU there were 217 culture-related projected financed within the European structural funds. What could contribute to their success? One of the answers would be municipalities having a coherent plan for a city’s development including all sectors and their awareness of the delicate culture and heritage problems.


Culture and economy - a possible dialogue about new policy measures


Recent years showed an increasing interest in culture in an economic context, culture used as a tool for regional and city development. A number of examples could be cited where culture has been used as a way to attract tourists or even investors to raise the level of life of the inhabitants.

Owen (2002) claims that hallmark events, also in the domain of culture, are important redevelopment tools utilized by entrepreneurial governments. In the past many cities have chosen cultural and art projects as ways of stimulating development and urban regeneration. One of the most known examples is the case of Bilbao (Murzyn 2002) where a strategic redevelopment plan, including flagship projects such as like the Guggenheim Museum, the Euskalduna Congress and Music Hall, turned a crumbling industrial centre into a flourishing city ready for the challenges of the new millennium.

Another example worth mentioning here is Glasgow, which is one of the few European Capitals of Culture associated with great transformation and successful culture-led regeneration programme – to some extend a benchmark for all the other cities (e.g. Garcia 2005, 2004). Culture was a very important component of the redevelopment of this ex-industrial city in decline, including building a new concert hall and other art space that attracted large number of tourists.

Both cases were followed by discussions concerning the real beneficiaries of the change, of the transformation as well as negative opinions on the final outcomes. (e.g. Mooney 2004). Nevertheless, one might draw a conclusion that the culture becomes a more and more important tool in the development process.

The newly developed attitude towards culture results in the need for a greater analysis and possibly the creation of policy measures considered in two aspects. On one hand, bearing in mind the role culture can play in the economic development, it would appear that there should be measures introduced that facilitate the creation and implementation of development strategies that would include culture as a tool to achieve the development goals. On the other hand, if there is an increasing agreement on the beneficial role of culture as a development factor, there should be financial schemes introduced that would facilitate cultural projects.

This article will present a preliminary analysis of two examples of cultural endeavors – Kraków 2000, the European City of Culture and the European Structural Funds allocated to Poland in the period of 2004-2006. The analysis will be done in the context of the awareness and the attitude of the government towards using culture as a tool for development as well as the policy measures employed to implement them. The EU financial support for Poland over the years included the pre-accession support (PHARE and ISPA), structural funds support (since 2004) and the Community programmes. Chosen examples seem to have one of the greatest potentials of being a drive for development. As the both cases are associated with the EU cultural policy the article briefly comments on this to introduce the subject.

Culture and economy from the EU perspective

No earlier than 1991 and the Maastricht Treaty was culture taken into consideration by the European Communities. The Article 151 of the Maastricht Treaty introduced the obligation of analyzing cultural aspects in any action of the Community, also including the economic or social provisions. Nevertheless, the European institutions, including the European Commission’s Directorate General for Education and Culture did not seem to take into the account the socio-economic aspect of the cultural and creative sector for quite a long time. The first Community programme in the field of culture that to some, however limited, extent included this aspect was the Community Framework Programme Culture 2000 (2000-2006). One of its goals, listed as a seventh one, was an “explicit recognition of culture as an economic factor and as a factor in social integration and citizenship” (Decision establishing Culture 2000 programme, 2000). The succeeding programme, Culture (2007-2013), does not include economic goals (Decision establishing Culture programme, 2006). The first study in this field commissioned by the Directorate General for Education and Culture was not done until in 2005-2006.

Culture on its own as an area of intervention of the European Regional Development Fund appears only in the financial perspective 2007-13. There are such projects as investments in culture, including protection, promotion and preservation of cultural heritage and the development of cultural infrastructure in support of socio-economic development incorporated in the document (Regulation No 1080/2006 on ERDF). In the years 2000-06 the list of key intervention areas comprised culture only together with tourism with the emphasis on the latter. In the European Commission proposal for Cohesion Policy dated July 13 2006 (Communication SEC (2006) 928) there are key issues for regional development listed. It is proposed that the emphasis will put on accessibility and mobility, access to service amenities (including new technologies), natural and physical environment and culture. It is understood in the document that cultural policy that promotes vibrant culture based on suitable facilities makes cities more attractive to citizens, workers, businessmen and visitors and it strengthens the pride and identity.

Moreover, the Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament, the Council, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions on a European agenda for culture in a globalizing world from May 10, 2007 (Communication SEC (2007) 570) puts among its objectives the promotion of culture as a catalyst for creativity and innovation in the context of the Lisbon Strategy for jobs and growth. President of the European Commission, José Manuel Barroso on the day of the adoption of the Communication said that “culture and creativity are important drivers for personal development, social cohesion and economic growth. Today’s strategy promoting intercultural understanding confirms culture’s place at the heart of our policies.”

The case of Kraków 2000 – the European City of Culture

Kraków was designated to be a European City of Culture in 2000 together with eight other cities: Avignon, Bergen, Bologna, Brussels, Helsinki, Prague, Reykjavik and Santiago de Compostela. Being a European City of Culture meant most of all the obligation to prepare a cultural programme for the whole year that would bring people from the member states closer together, promote the culture of the city and region and bring out the cultural diversity of Europe to the fore – i.e. pursue the goal of the initiative (Resolution of the Ministers 1985). Among the aims of the European City of Culture (later called European Capital of Culture) initiative there was never economic or social development included, even if some of the cities bearing the title took this opportunity to implement development strategies based on culture.

Kraków, however, chose the following aims of the 2000 Festival to be implemented (Program Kraków 2000 2001):

§               presentation of cultural heritage and modern creativity;

§               presenting Kraków as a meeting place between the West and the East;

§               creating new institutions, cultural activities and events of international quality and importance as well encouraging existing cultural institutions;

§               encouraging participation in cultural events and activities;

§               reflection on the spirit of contemporary Europe with its rich roots including the Judeo-Christian culture;

§               opening attractive ways of spiritual and intellectual development for the young generation;

§               promotion of cultural achievements and presenting an attractive Kraków and Poland to a tourist.

Clearly the economic aspect of cultural activities was not considered while preparing the program of the Kraków 2000 Festival. In the opinion of Bogusław Sonik (Interview with B. Sonik, 2007), director of the Kraków 2000 from the end of 1996, development through culture was not intended which is clearly reflected in the name of the event – Festival Kraków 2000 (“festival” means focusing on arts). This attitude was confirmed by D. Glondys (Interview with D. Glondys, 2007), a director of the culture department in the municipality at the time of preparing the application for the title. The main idea behind the application was the city promotion and marketing. In her opinion in the middle of the 90s in Poland no one in the municipality considered the role of culture in the development process as vital. Although the designation for the title of the European Capital of Culture concerned in the first place the city itself, the document of city’s development strategy prepared by the municipality did not mention the designation for the title at all. Nevertheless, it has to be stressed that cultural objectives as such were placed very high in the rank of the strategy goals in the document.

As mentioned before, the goals of the festival Kraków 2000 did not include economic ones nor did it mention investment in the cultural infrastructure. Kraków, however, had lacked for many years a large concert hall with more seats than the existing philharmonic hall (817 seats) or the largest theatre in Kraków (about 500 seats). The designation for the European City of Culture title could have been a great possibility motivating the creation of such an establishment. However, both proposals, to build a concert hall seating 2,000 spectators that would be a part of the long-planned Music Theatre or a multipurpose hall (for the Festival events and them for sports events, congresses, exhibitions, fairs) that could be constructed in 6 months, were not implemented. B. Sonik (Interview with B. Sonik, 2007) emphasizes that Kraków authorities tended not to think in economic terms when it came to culture. Investment in cultural infrastructure, especially building new one, was rather rare. D. Glondys (Interview with D. Glondys, 2007) blames frequent political changes and personnel reshuffling in the central and regional authorities in both cases, while J. Purchla (Purchla 1998) sees as a reason for the investment failure lack of enough emphasis on the architectural aspects nor on investments in the cultural sphere in the Festival’s programme itself. The city’s activities in that sphere should have been more focused around the designation to be able to take promotional advantages of the title. Moreover, Purchla thinks (Interview with J. Purchla 2007) that instead of organizing a five-year cultural festival[1] the same financial means should have been allocated in creating some long-lasting cultural infrastructure.

However, both investment projects mentioned above were included in the municipal strategic document on the Kraków development (although without mentioning the designation for the European Capital of Culture) (Strategia rozwoju 1999: 1-9) It proves true the words of D. Glondys (Interview with D. Glondys 2007) that there was no strategic plan linking all the domains of city life to the organization of the festival. It does not mean that any investment was not done – both in cultural and other sectors. But they were all planned separately by the municipal departments responsible for each domain. There was no coherent plan combing all the forces in order to prepare the city in all aspect to be a European City of Culture.

The same lack of coordination of action plans and the designation for the title of the European City of Culture could be observed in the case of renovation of monuments. In 2000 over PLN 63,88 M was spent on restoration and construction works. More than 2/3 of the amount was spent on complete renovation works. The works conducted included renovation of the floor of the Wawel Castle’s courtyards and conservation of the gates to the St. Mary’s Church on the Main Market Square (Raport o stanie miasta 1999, 2000). In 1999, the year of final preparation for the European Capital of Culture festival, funds were directed to several projects, including adaptation of a former tram depot from 1900 for the needs of the newly established Museum of Municipal Engineering. The seat of the Cultural Information Centre was renovated. The public space in the city was also refurbished – illumination of the monuments in the Old Town, parts of the green belt, a park called the Planty situated in the place of the old city walls, was renovated. Again, in the opinion of the interviewees quoted above, the renovation strategy of those years failed to include the European City of Culture event as motivation for any works in the this field.

Additional analysis of the number of visitors and tourists (visitors staying overnight) to Krakow in 2000 as well as the income of the municipality in 2000 puts in doubt success of the Kraków 2000 Festival regarding its influence on the city’s development[2].


Structural funds and culture in Poland

A few years after hosting the European City of Culture in Kraków, Poland started its preparation for benefiting from the European Structural Funds[3]. The Ministry of Culture participated actively in the preparation of the National Development Plan, a document that would be a base for negotiating the Community Support Framework with the European Commission. Taking the example of Portugal and Greece, the only countries in 2000-2006 that had a separate operational programme devoted just to culture and heritage, the Ministry tried to convince its government partners of the importance of culture in the development and include special priorities for culture in the operational programmes.

Consequently, the following programmes included the possibility of supporting cultural projects: Integrated Operational Programme for Regional Development, Sectoral Operational Programme Restructuring and Modernisation of the Food Sector and Rural Development, Sectoral Operational Programme Improvement of the Competitiveness of  Enterprises, Sectoral Operational Programme Human Resources Development. There was a variety of different types of projects possible within these Programmes ranging from building and renovating cultural infrastructure and restoring cultural heritage monuments to protection of rural heritage, development of art schools and information society infrastructure as well as supporting culture industries.

The most important Programme was the first one mentioned above. In the years 2004-2006 298 projects were supported amounting to PLN 1,546 mln (EUR 387 mln). 94 of them (amounting to PLN 953 mln) were co-funded within the Priority 1.4 Development of tourism and culture which was the main priority including culture directly.

Examples can be multiplied of co-funded cultural projects that are to have a beneficial effect on a city’s or a region’s development. One of the projects supported was a revitalization of the Zamość Old Town listed on the UNESCO World Heritage List. This included conservation, renovation and modernization of buildings, introducing new functions in the monument premises, reconstruction of the fortress wall and refurbishment of the public space. The unique space of the Old Town enables the development of not only cultural and artistic life but also providing attractive leisure time for the inhabitants and tourists as well perspectives for further economic growth (Financing culture 2006, 27).

Arguably, both central and regional authorities learned to appreciate the role of culture in the development. In the current financial perspective, 2007-13 culture is included in 6 sectorial operational programmes and 16 regional ones. One of the priorities of the Sectoral Programme “Infrastructure and Environment”, priority 12 “Culture and cultural heritage”, with the budget of EUR 576 mln is dedicated solely to the domain of culture and cultural heritage. It offers the possibility of implementing large projects (most of them over EUR 5 mln) in the sphere of cultural infrastructure, while smaller cultural projects could be supported within one of the 16 regional operational programmes.

In order to help Polish cultural operators to benefit from the EU resources for culture (mainly the structural funds but also the Community programmes, such the Culture 2000 Programme, INTERREG III etc.) the Ministry of Culture established a special programme called “Promesa” ( or a “promise” of the minister of culture) that offered financial resources to cover an organizer’s own financial contribution to the projects supported by the EU programmes and funds). The programme is be continued also in the new financial perspective of 2007-13.


It is difficult to resist the conclusion that a large cultural event of the Kraków 2000 Festival had a rather small impact on the city’s economy. To some extent it is understandable as in the programme of the event the economic goals were not emphasized. The largest problem, however, seems to rather be a lack of coherent strategy in the municipality that would focus on taking advantage of the event and not treat it as one-time cultural project with no long-term impact. This attitude of not recognizing the importance of culture in terms of the city’s development could be found surprising in a city that claims to be the cultural and heritage capital of the country. It does not mean that culture was not supported at that time by the local and central authorities – it was; however, never with an aim to foster development. The attitude of the municipality is clearly mirrored in the document of the city’s development strategy prepared in 1999 which did not mention the designation for the title of the European City of Culture. Generally speaking, one could venture a conclusion that in economical terms, Kraków 2000 could not be considered a successful example of a European City of Culture. What failed here were the policy measures, or rather lack of them, while implementing the European City of Culture.

The case of using the structural funds for culture in Poland in 2004-2006 seems to prove that once the value of culture is learnt by the officials, programmes and strategies are created to support  the implementation of such projects. Introducing “Promesa” programme is one of the policy measures needed to assure at least a modest rate of successful applications to the European Union financial resources.

Broadly speaking, there still seems to be the need for a dialogue on the policy measures that would help produce and then implement cultural strategies and projects contributing to the use of culture, arts and heritage as important factors of development.



Central Statistical Office, Regional Databases (viewed: September 2007).

Cogliandro G. (2001) European Cities of Culture for the Year 2000. A wealth of urban cultures for celebrating the turn of the century. Final report. Association of the European Cities of Culture of the year 2000 (typescript copy).

Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament, the Council, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions on a European agenda for culture in a globalizing world SEC(2007) 570

Commission Staff Working Document. Annex to the Communication from the Commission to the Council and Parliament. Cohesion Policy and cities: the urban contribution to growth and jobs in the regions (COM(2006) 385 final)


Decision No 508/2000/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 14 February 2000 establishing the Culture 2000 programme.

Decision No 1903/2006/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 12 December 2006 establishing the Culture programme (2007-2013).

Finansowanie kultury z funduszy europejskich w Polsce w latach 2004-2006 [Financing culture from the European funds in Poland in 2004-2006]. Ministerstwo Kultury i Dziedzictwa Narodowego. Departament Strategii Kultury i Spraw Europejskich. Warszawa 2006

Garcia, B. (2005) De-constructing the City of Culture: The long term cultural legacies of Glasgow 1990. Urban Studies, Vol. 42, no 5/6.

Garcia B. (2004) Urban Regeneration, arts programming and major events. Glasgow 1990, Sydney 2000 and Barcelona

Interview with Bogusław Sonik, director of Kraków 2000 (1996-2002), currently member of the European Parliament, on 13 October 2007.

Interview with Danuta Glondys, former director of the culture department in the municipality, currently a director of the Villa Decius Association, on 5 September 2007.

Interview with prof. Jacek Purchla, coordinator of the European Cultural Month in Kraków 1992 (1992), currently a director of the International Cultural Centre in Kraków, on 28 September 2007.

Kraków 2000 Festival Office web archive, (viewed: September 2007).

Kraków 2000 Festival Office webpage (viewed: September 2007).

Owen K. A. (2002) The Sydney 2000 Olympics and urban entrepreneurialism: local variations in urban governance. Australian Geographical Studies, 40(3).

Purchla J. (1998) Uwagi do projektów zainicjowanych i przedstawionych do oceny przez Biuro Festiwalowe Kraków 2000 [Remarks on the projects initiated and presented by Kraków 2000 Festival Office], (a note to the municipality).

Mooney G. (2004) Cultural policy as urban transformation? Critical reflections on Glasgow, the European City of Culture in 1990. Local Economy, 19:4, 327–340.

Murzyn A. M. (2002) Culture and urban revitalization. The case of Bilbao. In Yearly 2002, International Cultural Centre, Kraków.

Program Kraków 2000 Europejskie Miasto Kultury. Raport końcowy [Programme of the European City of Culture Kraków, Final Report] (2001). Biuro Kraków 2000, Kraków (typescript copy).

Raport o stanie miasta 1991-2005. [Report on the city’s condition 1991-2005], (viewed: September 2007).

Regulation (EC) No 1080/2006 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 5 July 2006 on the European Regional Development Fund and repealing Regulation (EC) No 1783/1999.

Resolution of the Ministers responsible for Cultural Affairs, meeting within the Council, of 13 June 1985, concerning the annual event 'European City of Culture' (85/C 153/02).

(1999) Strategia rozwoju Krakowa [Strategy for Kraków’s development], Zarząd Miasta Krakowa, Kraków.

Website on structural funds in Poland





Joanna Sanetra-Szeliga, absolwent Studiów Europejskich na Akademii Ekonomicznej w Krakowie. W latach 2002-2005 pracownik Punkt Kontaktowego ds. Kultury w Ministerstwie Kultury, od 2003 r. koordynator programu Kultura 2000 w Polsce, od 2005 Naczelnik Wydziału Spraw Europejskich w Departamencie Strategii Kultury i Spraw Europejskich Ministerstwa Kultury. Obecnie: na stanowisku specjalisty ds. pozyskiwania funduszy europejskich w Międzynarodowym Centrum Kultury w Krakowie. Trener Punktu Kontaktowego ds. Kultury przy Ministerstwie Kultury. Wykładowca akademicki.


Joanna Sanetra-Szeliga, graduate of the Cracow University Economics, major in European Studies. In 2002-2005 member of the Culture Contact Point in Poland staff (Ministry of Culture). Since 2003 coordinator of the Culture 2000 programme in Poland, since 2005 unit coordinator in the European Affairs Unit in the Department of Culture Strategy and European Affairs in the Ministry of Culture. Currently: European funds specialist in the International Cultural Centre in Krakow. CCP trainer. University lecturer.


Joanna Sanetra-Szeliga
Ośrodek Strategii i Komunikacji/Strategy and Communication Department
Międzynarodowe Centrum Kultury/International Cultural Centre
Rynek Główny 25
31-008 Kraków, Poland
tel. +48 12 42 42 802
fax +48 12 421 85 71

[1] When the title was received in 1995, the municipality decided to lengthen the celebration by preparing the festival events in all years preceding 2000.


[2] A broader analysis of the impact of the European City of Culture title on Kraków was presented by the author during a conference “Culture and the City” in November 2007 in Karlskrona, Sweden. Proceedings of the conference are planned to be published in 2008.

[3] Poland accessed the EU in 2004.

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