European Capitals of CultureΠοιειν Και Πραττειν - create and do

Third European Cultural Capital Report 2011

Robert Palmer and Greg Richards along with Diane Dodd have completed the Third European Cultural Capital Report with a clear indication on what it depends if a city wishes to implement successfully events as part of the programme by which a general public is transformed into an audience interested in European cultures.

For a preview of the book see:

Robert Palmer and Greg Richards are doing very important research work. It has been along a concern of Robert Palmer that ECoC cities even after they have received the designation do not take the time and invest enough in the programme. Thus it is interesting on how they develop further this idea in the Third Report. They explain that the programme is the best way of making visible the concept and by which it becomes possible to transform a general public into a specific audience which does follow and participate in the events. Building an audience is an integral part of the success story of any ECoC city and this advise should be heeded.

What seems to be a common concern of all, namely the increasing trend towards over commercialization, that is already noticeable in artists beginning to resist the commodification of culture. It is equally of interest that Wroclaw 2016 subscribes to that end. It is a matter of how to stay authentic and not pretend to do more than what can be handled. That was the essence of my presentation I mentioned already when attending this conference dedicated to a cultural capital in the making i.e. Sonderborg 2017. Alone the complexity which cities have to deal with nowadays can send anyone on a heads and tails spin without knowing where the flipped coin shall land. Certainly the composition of the jury along with some attempts to influence heavily the outcome from the side of the national governments does not make it easier.

I think also that the liaison and cultural cooperation between cities not only during the same year, but from year to year, is essential to ensure some continuity. It was something the ECCM network attempted to do in terms of former, current and future ECoC cities. You might be interested in my write up as to the reasons for the collapse of the ECCM Network as it illuminates as much the problem of retaining the legacy of Melina Mercouri as the ECoC concept has to be adopted to the changing needs.

Robert Palmer addressed the problem directly last March at the meeting in Brussels when he stated that there is a danger of these cities to be transformed into cultural industries with the communication budget for public relation exercises alone going proportionally up at the expense of some real investments in the arts and in authentic cultural developments. We need to return to cultural contents which do communicate directly and by themselves just as good novels, exciting theatrical performances and real experiences of cultures in dialogue which can make a difference in what is perceived as being substantial rather than a mere event with some powerful visual effects meant to impress the media. (for the article about the ECCM collapse see

Hatto Fischer

Athens 7.1.2011

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