What is the European Capital of Culture?

The European Capital of Culture (ECoC) is a European Union project that was established in 1985 and has since become one of the most important cultural initiatives in Europe. The project celebrates Europe's common cultural roots, as well as cultural diversity in individual EU member states. It aims to bring European citizens closer together, create a stronger sense of European belonging and promote cultural life in cities. The award is given by the Council of Ministers of Culture for a period of one year, but the city can continue to use its title after its expiration. The ECoC title is an opportunity for the awarded city to social and economic development, urban renewal, strengthening tourism and creating new jobs. The positive impact of the project is often transferred to the entire region.

How does it actually work?

All EU Member States can participate in the ECoC project, and from 2019 onwards, candidate countries and potential candidate countries as well. Each year, two to three countries hosting the ECoC are nominated, considering 28 Member States means that each country hosts the ECoC once every approximately 14 years.
The selection process for cities that receive the title of European Capital of Culture has two stages. Six years before the year of the ECoC, the Member State shall publish a call for applications. Cities wishing to take part in the competition must submit their proposals for evaluation. The submitted applications - bid books are assessed according to established criteria by a group of independent European and national cultural experts. In the second round, shortlisted cities are asked to submit more detailed applications based on that jury will select one city to receive the ECoC title in the host country. The selected city should have the potential to organize a comprehensive event with a pan-European scope and strategy with a long-term impact on local economic, social and cultural development.
The European Capitals of Culture are officially designated four years before the year of the event. This long time is necessary for project planning and preparation. The planning process is monitored by the local selection board and the European Commission, which also play the role of preparation adviser.

Why is the title of European Capital of Culture beneficial?

Originally, the title of European Capital of Culture was awarded to cities with a rich history and cultural offer, but now the title is more about an opportunity for cultural development and structural change in the award-winning city. The ECoC awarded city is gaining considerable attention at the state and international level, which goes beyond the year of the ECoC, and allows the city to change its image and initiate changes.
It is clear from previous projects that the awarded cities experienced an increase in tourism, which persisted even after the end of the project. The ECoC also contributes to the cohesion of the local community, and creates a sense of pride and belonging in the region. Thanks to this, the project brings long-term benefits not only for culture, but also for the social and economic development of cities and their surroundings.
An example from the Czech Republic is Pilsen, which received the title of European Capital of Culture in 2015. The main benefit of the event was a significant increase in the interest of local people in cultural activities and their participation in cultural events in the city, at the same time a more diverse range of community activities involving various target groups was created. The city also welcomed a record number of tourists, which continued into the following years.

When will the project take place in the Czech Republic?

The Czech Republic will again host the European Capital of Culture in 2028 together with France. The deadline for applications to the first round is set for September 2022, the final selection of the winner will take place in 2023. The city of Liberec will run for ECoC 2028. The other known candidates are currently Brno, Broumov and České Budějovice.
Prague (2000) and Pilsen (2015) have received the ECoC title in the Czech Republic in past years. Both cities enjoyed significantly higher attendance from the Czech Republic and abroad.