European Capital of Culture. What Does That Mean?

Skopje is one of the cities selected by the European Commission to be the European Capital of Culture for the year 2028. It will share this prestigious designation with České Budějovice in the Czech Republic and another city in France, which will be revealed in December 2023.

European Capital of Culture is a prestigious initiative organized by the European Union. Its primary aim is to promote and celebrate the rich cultural diversity and heritage of Europe. Each year, one or more cities from Europe are selected to participate in this program. These chosen cities are granted the unique opportunity to showcase their cultural heritage, contemporary arts, and a wide range of cultural activities on the global stage.

The “European Capital of Culture” initiative brings several benefits to the city selected for European Capital of Culture:

  • Cultural Enrichment: It celebrates and promotes the city’s cultural wealth, heritage and contemporary art, enriching the cultural experiences of residents and visitors.
  • Tourism Support: The host city attracts tourists, which boosts the local economy by increasing visitor numbers and their expenditures within the city.
  • Economic Growth: The initiative can stimulate economic development by generating employment opportunities within the cultural sector, attracting investments in infrastructure, and supporting cultural industries.
  • Urban Renewal: European Capital of Culture can facilitate urban renewal, leading to improved city infrastructure and enhanced quality of life for its residents.
  • International Visibility: The title brings international recognition and draws the world’s attention to the city’s cultural scene.
  • Intercultural Exchange: Encourages intercultural dialogue, cooperation, and fosters mutual understanding among diverse communities.
  • Community Engagement: European Capital of Culture involves local communities in cultural activities, increases city pride and participation.
  • European Identity: Reinforces the idea of a shared European identity by celebrating common values and cultural heritage.
  • Long-lasting Legacy: Many of the cultural and economic improvements made during the title year have a lasting impact on the city and its residents.
  • Global Networking: Cities designated as European Capitals of Culture have the opportunity to connect with other cultural centers, facilitating global networking for artists and cultural institutions.

The holder of the application for Skopje is the public institution “Universal Hall,” and the project is financed by the City of Skopje. Several projects from different areas were proposed at the public procurement: cultural heritage, digital culture, protection of the natural environment, urban planning, cultural education, cultural and creative industries, international collaborations (visits, residencies, etc.), social inclusion of marginalized groups, etc. But, we will have to wait until 2028 to see which of these will be realized.

Here is the list of future European Capitals of Culture along with the corresponding years:

  • 2024:
    • Tartu, Estonia
    • Bad Ischl, Austria
    • Bodø, Norway
  • 2025
    • Nova Gorica/Gorizia (joint bid), Slovenia/Italy
    • Chemnitz, Germany
  • 2026
    • Trenčín, Slovakia
    • Oulu, Finland
  • 2027
    • Liepāja, Latvia
    • Évora, Portugal
  • 2028
    • České Budějovice, the Czech Republic
    • To be announced on 13/12/2023, France
    • Skopje, Macedonia
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