European Capitals of CultureΠοιειν Και Πραττειν - create and do


Whenever the press catches on to something, for sure this is going to be repeated over and again as sometimes one thing sticks, while many others things just vanish as if they have never come into existence.

In the case of Stavanger2008, the most often repeated quote is following statement by the head of Stavanger's Culture organisation, and who is a Scottish journalist and former violinist, namely Mary Miller. She said of the bid: "When I first arrived, I thought, why does this place need to be European Capital of Culture? It's an extraordinarily precious place, almost like a little utopia. It is a massive investment in people. You look at this pristine country, in many senses the chief enemy here is that it is as good as it is."

A press review needs to be done in a very systematic manner. Also there will have to examined the difference between local, regional and national press in Norway, and then compared with what international coverage the European Capital of Culture received. There are cases when the press hardly noticed what was going on e.g. Patras 2006. For this reason, Bob Scott of Liverpool put a great emphasis upon every future ECoC having in place a well worked out communication and public relation concepts. As a result, it pushed that category of the budget up to 20% of the total budget.

To this has to added the official proclamations not only of the city of Stavanger or of the Norwegian government, but as well of the European Commission. These official declarations serve a double purpose: legitimization of the project and informing a wider European audience through the press in Brussels. Especially in the case of the EU Commission, it becomes obvious that they praise things what Stavanger has achieved without naming those details which contradict such a positive appraisal. But it is the rule of the game not to expose when it is something official. That has determined the language the European Commission has adopted in all matters. 

However, by 2010 this had become a critical point. As mentioned when covering the 25 Years of Success: Presentation of ECOC in Brussels, March 23 - 24, 2010 Bob Palmer mentioned in his presentation the increasing problem he has with an increase in spin doctor like reports issued by ECoCs. 

Of interest is as well that the press find it difficult to report since they need to cover two European Capitals of Culture, and then link them somehow, even if they have hardly anything to do with one another. There were very few cooperations between Liverpool '08 and Stavanger2008. As a matter of fact that two European Capitals of Culture take place within the same year, that is itself an issue in need to be discussed in future. Moreover, the EU Commission has added the possibility of adding a third city outside the EU membership after 2019. It seems the EU Commission contradicts its own warning not to inflate the title for then the significance of this project loses in value.

 HF 24.1.2015

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