European Capital of Culture in Poland again

According to the decision of the European Parliament, in 2016 a Polish city, as well as a Spanish one, will be named with the European Capital of Culture title. The Ministry of Culture and National Heritage who coordinates the project on behalf of the Polish Government will announce the invitation for the candidate cities to submit their applications at the end of 2009. Which of the eight cities will be honoured with the prestige title for their solid contribution to cultural achievements and promoting heritage of the world’s civilisation?

Following the rules of the competition, the deadline of submitting the applications will be met 10 months after announcing the invitation. At the end of 2010 a short list of the cities which will qualify to the next stage of the competition will be published. The final meeting of the selecting commission will be held in the third quarter of 2011. The Council of Ministers of the EU is expected to announce the winning city in the second quarter of 1212. 

Annually there are chosen two European Union countries, from which the willing cities put forward their candidatures 9 years earlier. Among the submitted cities the commission chooses one from each country. The cities have to fulfil lots of regulations described in the legal documentation of the EU law, i.e. promoting one’s own culture through an institution of the Ambassador of Culture – a creator who is strongly connected with a city, international cooperation, emphasising European values, and creating artistic movements that promote a region. 

Those European cities that get the title of the European Capital of Culture have an opportunity to present throughout a whole year their historical and cultural heritage, as well as broadly understood promotion of the region and the country. Concerts, festivals and shows organized especially on this occasion attract an International audience. The title of the European Capital of Culture means not only prestige, but also financial profits for all the events are in 60 per cent covered from the European funds.  

The idea of integrating all the Europeans was presented during a session of the European Council in 13 May 1985 by the Greek minister of culture, Melina Mercouri. The initiative of the European Cities of Culture has taken on in Europe and, as a result, the first city that proudly borne the title was, thanks to the initiator of the idea, Greek Athens. 

So far, only one Polish city has been honoured with the title of the European Capital of Culture. It was Krakow in 2000. Also at that time the European Union nominated seven cities from the member countries and two from the countries that were preparing to join the EU in 1 May 2004: Polish Krakow and Czech Prague. Thanks to the title, Krakow has become one of the most attractive cities not only in Poland, but also in Europe. The foreigners have learned the name of that beautiful city and come back there on a regular basis recommending it to their friends. 

At present Krakow shares its experience and supports those cities that are contending and fighting for getting the title in 2016. On 26-27 January 2009 in the International Culture Centrum in Krakow, there will be workshops for authorities’ representatives of those Polish cities that are striving for the title of the ECC in 2016. The Minister of Culture and National Heritage, Bogdan Zdrojewski, took part in the Information Day and a press conference devoted to the matters of the European Capital of Culture 2016. 

The schedule of the workshops included lectures on procedures and important dates for submitting the applications, but also on the budged and promotion of the ECC. A crucial issue of the programme was the panel discussions with participation of the experts who sit in a board assessing the applications, and the representatives of those cities which were, are or will be the European Capitals of Culture. 

Gdansk, Lublin, Lodz, Poznan, Torun, Szczecin, Wroclaw and Warsaw declared their willingness to enter the project and have started the race for the laurels presenting however a differentiated level of the work progress. Right now Lublin, Lodz and Torun are the most engaged in preparations. Unofficially, they are considered as the strongest candidates.  Apart from Wroclaw, that submitted an application in December 2008, the cities are running their internet services. Notwithstanding the fact which of the cities will be presented with the ennobling title, Poland has already gained for the Europeans are continuously provided with information about the Polish heritage. The only open question is how effectively the Poles will manage to show the country in this important competition. 

Joanna Gulbinska

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