S9 - The ‘European Capital of Culture’ initiative and the new urban challenges

Organisation: DEFFNER Alexis / BOGIATZIDES Nicolo / PSATHA Eva

Key-words : European Capital of Culture (ECoC), Cities, Cultural policies, Creative Europe

The European Capital of Culture is one of the oldest and one of the most popular urban European initiatives. Since its first adoption in 1985, more than 50 cities across the European Union have been awarded the title.  According to the European Commission, the ECoC initiative aims to highlight the richness and the diversity of cultures in Europe, while increasing the sense of belonging in a common cultural area that European citizens (should) have. Although the ECoC institution was conceived, planned and implemented when the idea of the so-called ‘European Ideal’, as mentioned today, was arising, it is more than obvious that the aforementioned aims are still well-timed. In an era of transition that affects the European structure socially, economically and politically, the establishment of the common European identity is always pursued.

Shifting the point of examination on the cities’ level, the objectives of the ECoC initiative are equally ambitious. Regenerating cities, enhancing their image, both in the eyes of the residents and internationally, boosting tourism and fostering the contribution of culture to the development of cities, are among the opportunities that cities seem to claim when bidding for the event (https://ec.europa.eu). These opportunities are sequent to the urban policies that are being observed globally. As cities increasingly seek to improve their internal and external image, they have extensively used culture asa local economy stimulant and as a vehicle towards urban regeneration. Such policies are usually followed by place marketing and branding techniques, in an attempt to attract new residents, visitors and investors.

The new urban challenges are followed by a scientific debate, concentrating on the search for new theoretical and methodological tools, capable for planning, evaluating and researching new urban strategies, policies and trends. In this context, the proposed special session aims to bring the ECoC initiative into the focus, examining the double role that plays –and that can play under the new conditions- both for the hosting cities and for European Culture. The issues will be addressed from the perception of theorists, practitioners and the administration.