European Capitals of CultureΠοιειν Και Πραττειν - create and do

2nd Report Palmer / Richards

New Publication

European Cultural Capital Report 2


Robert Palmer and Greg Richards


Issue no. 2                            January 2009

This report is the second in a series of updates to the original Palmer Report, which was produced for the European Commission in 2004. A brief synopsis of the contents of the report is reproduced in the introduction of the report (see below). The report can be ordered online form ATLAS (



1          Introduction                                                                                                 5

2          Methods                                                                                                        9

3          News, trends and developments                                                           10

3.1             2008: Liverpool and Stavanger

3.2             2009: Linz and Vilnius

3.3             2010: Pécs – too little too late?

3.4             2010: Istanbul – new models for management?

3.5             2010: Essen for the Ruhr?

3.6             Future candidate cities

3.7             Programming trends

3.8             Regions as Cultural Capitals

4 The new ECOC selection process 37

5          Media coverage and marketing                                                              40

6          ECOC Legacies                                                                                          44

6.1       2005 – 2006: The lost years?


6.2       Sibiu – building pride in the city

7          Case Study - Impact of Luxemburg and Greater Region 2007      50

Aims and objectives

The budget

The cultural programme

Marketing and communications


Cultural spending

Tourism impacts

Business and employment impacts

Legacy of the ECOC

Comparing 1995 and 2007

Critical success factors


Overall assessment and lessons for other cities from Luxemburg 2007


8          Cultural capital clones - the Arab Capital of Culture             68

9          Bibliography                                                                                                72

10        Previous Report Contents                                                                       85

1       Introduction

The European Capital of Culture event (ECOC) is arguably one of the most successful EU cultural programmes, attracting increasing interest from policy makers, academics and the media every year. As more and more cities are involved in competing for the ECOC title, there is also a growing need for information about and evaluation of the event and the host cities. The European Union is giving the ECOC action significant attention. The bidding process, the selection of the short-list of candidate cities and the final selection of the winning city itself attracts substantial political and media attention. From 2009, the European Commission will be allocating increased funds to the ECOC programme, highlighting its importance as a major EU emblematic activity.


The European Cultural Capital Report aims to update the wealth of information contained in the original ECOC evaluation report (the Palmer Report) produced by Robert Palmer, Greg Richards and other experts for the European Commission (Palmer-Rae 2004). In doing so, it aims to provide essential information for those organising, implementing and evaluating the ECOC.


The ECOC programme has changed radically in terms of its aims, scope and scale in recent years. The expansion of the programme to the new Member States of the European Union in particular has brought a whole raft of new countries into the ECOC, and with it new visions and challenges. The 2007 ECOC in Sibiu was the first of the ECOC in the wave of new Member States admitted to the EU after 2004, even though the selection was made under the old rules. The Sibiu experience offers some interesting pointers for other new participants in the programme, and the event was recently evaluated in a report produced by Greg Richards and Ilie Rotariu (Richards and Rotariu 2008).


Given the scale and speed of change affecting the ECOC, this latest edition of the European Cultural Capital Report contains a news section, which reviews the latest developments in the bidding, selection and organisation of the ECOC. We review some of the key developments in the ECOC in present, future and candidate cities, looking at the way in which the event is being developed, organized and marketed.


One of the biggest changes has been the new system for selecting, monitoring and evaluating the cities, which is now coming fully into operation. Marseilles and Košice were recently confirmed as the ECOC for 2013 under the new jury selection system. We review the working of the new system in this issue.


The main case study for this edition of the European Cultural Capital Report is Luxemburg and Greater Region in 2007. Luxemburg is a particularly interesting case study because of the high degree of regional collaboration, involving links across international and language boundaries. Luxemburg was also hosting the ECOC for the second time in 2007, providing a unique chance to compare two events held in the same city.


The Luxemburg case also highlights the growing role played by regional issues in the ECOC, a trend highlighted by the 'takeover' of the Essen ECOC for 2010 by the wider Ruhr region.


There is also a growing body of research dedicated to the ECOC. The bibliography contained in the current issue of the European Capital Report lists 35 new publications identified since the previous issue, which itself listed 18 sources produced since the Palmer Report in 2004. Much of the growth is being stimulated by increased academic interest in the ECOC and its impacts.  There is a University Network of the European Capitals of Culture, which now comprises over 40 member universities from 20 countries.  Many new studies are being produced by academics linked to this network and by the wider academic community. There is also a growing number of reports evaluating the impacts of the ECOC, usually commissioned by the cities themselves. A large number of the recent publications on the ECOC are brought together in the bibliography at the end of this report.


It has also been decided that there will be no more ECOC outside the Member States of the EU in future. Stavanger (2008) and Istanbul (2010) will therefore be the last non-EU ECOC. In the meantime, however, the number of Cultural Capital programmes continues to expand (most recently with the announcement of the Cultural Capital for Flanders). In this issue we focus on the Arab Capital of Culture programme[RP1] .


The continuing expansion of the ECOC idea and its popularity with cities is arguably due to the success of the basic model, which enables cities to use a major cultural event as a multifaceted policy tool. The Palmer Report identified some of the main reasons why the model is so successful, including the high degree of leverage exerted by both the cities and the European Commission as a result of the programme. In general, the cities enjoy a boost in their cultural funding as a result of regional and national government investment, and the European Commission invests a fraction of the total budget (in spite of the recent decision to triple the level of funding to €1.5 million per city).


The event has also been very successful because it can embrace a whole raft of policy aims, from cultural development to urban regeneration, social cohesion and image change. The history of the event shows that in general the cities have tended to load the event with a growing number of policy aims and expectations, which makes the business of evaluating the ECOC and its outcomes all the more crucial.


In spite of its success, almost all ECOC experience major problems. There is a recurrence of difficulties in relation to governance, leadership, management, financing and public relations. Many cities have been able to ‘hide’ internal difficulties from the public. In other cases, although the local media have focused on problems and crises, the ECOC organization can maintain control of its external image outside the city, by maintaining large expenditure on advertising, and media relations. It is essential to remain rather cautious about making judgments on the basis of second or third party reporting.


Nevertheless, the ECOC has  been seen as a major opportunity to change the image of cities, and/or to put them on the European map. Although in the past the emphasis has tended to be on the projection of an external image, cities seem to be paying more attention to the internal identity of the city as well. Successful ECOC in this respect will tend to be those who can use the ECOC to develop the identity of the city and increase its meaning for its citizens while at the same time projecting an external image which is compatible with, and which enhances its internal cultural identity.


The authors

Robert Palmer has been an independent cultural adviser who worked regularly on international projects and assignments. He has worked in the cultural sector for more than 20 years, and has advised the European Commission, Council of Europe and 10 different European Cultural Institutes on cultural matters. In 2004 he directed the evaluation team which produced the Palmer Report on the European Capitals of Culture for the European Commission. His experience as the Director of two Capitals of Culture – Glasgow in 1990 and Brussels in 2000 – made him uniquely qualified for the job. He had previously been the Director of Cultural Affairs for the city of Glasgow, with responsibility for managing a process of arts-led regeneration for the city over a ten year period, of which Glasgow's designation as Cultural Capital of Europe formed a part. He was the director of Brussels 2000, which involved the development and management of a large and complex programme of cultural projects. He acted as a consultant for more than 10 candidate cities since the year 2001.


He is a member of the Boards of various arts institutions and international festivals, the Chair of European arts juries and is asked regularly to be a speaker at international cultural conferences and workshops. The main themes of his work concern creativity, cultural policy, cultural mapping and planning, cultural development in cities, festivals and events, and he has current projects in Europe, North America and South-East Asia. He has been given various awards in recognition of his work. Currently, he is the Director of Culture, Cultural and natural Heritage of the Council of Europe, based in Strasbourg, France.

Greg Richards has been involved in researching and evaluating the ECOC programme for the past ten years. He has conducted research during a number of ECOC events, including Rotterdam (2001), Porto (2001), Salamanca (2002) and Sibiu (2007), and produced the evaluations for both Luxemburg and Sibiu in 2007. He also organised an international cultural event as a project in the Sibiu ECOC, and is currently undertaking a long-term monitoring project for the city. He has also published widely on the impacts of the ECOC and was a member of the Palmer Report team in 2004. In 2005 he was appointed to the international jury for the selection of the 2010 ECOC in Hungary. He has presented analyses of ECOC data in a wide range of international events, including congresses organised by the European Union, the World Tourism Organisation, the European Federation for Arts and Heritage and the International Festivals and Events Association.


Greg also directs the ATLAS Cultural Tourism Research Project, which has collected over 40,000 visitor interviews at cultural attractions across the world. He has written a number of texts on aspects of cultural tourism, including Cultural Tourism in Europe, Cultural Attractions and European Tourism, Cultural Tourism: Global and local perspectives and Tourism, Creativity and Development. He is currently a senior partner with Tourism Research and Marketing in Barcelona ( and a Reader in Geography at the University of the West of England, Bristol.


Publication details


This publication is produced and distributed by the Association for Tourism and Leisure Education, and the report and others related to the ECOC, cultural tourism and other subjects can be obtained from


The normal price of the ECOC Report is €60. Discounts are available to purchasers of Issue 1 of the ECOC Report, as well as members of ATLAS.


ECOC research


Details of this and other ECOC research activities conducted by Bob Palmer and Greg Richards can be found at






[RP1]Are you aware that in addition to the Arab Capital of Culture, there is also an Islamic Capital of Culture. Check website for ISESCO (Islamic Organisation for Science, Education and Culture. If we require, I can easily get information about the Arab and Islamic capitals

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