Since 1 January 2022, three cities in Europe hold the title of European Capital of Culture for one year: Esch-sur-Alzette, in Luxembourg, Kaunas in Lithuania, and Novi Sad in Serbia. Such title of European Capital of Culture gives cities the chance to boost their image, put themselves on the world map, promote sustainable tourism and rethink their development through culture.
1.Promoting EU culture since 1985
In 1985, the then Greek Minister of Culture, Melina Mercouri, initiated the European Capital of Culture initiative. It has since become one of the most high-profile cultural initiatives in Europe. The selection process of cities is based on a cultural programme that must have a strong European dimension, including promoting participation and active involvement by city inhabitants, communities and contributing to the long-term development of the city and its surrounding regions.
“During the pandemic, culture was vital in our societies. It enabled the circulation of ideas and brought our communities closer together, beyond borders. This is exactly the ambition of the European Capitals of Culture initiative, which comes back in force in 2022 with three dynamic title-holders”, said European Commissioner VP for Promoting our European Way of Life, Margaritis Schinas.
2. Expanding life experiences
The Commission picked Esch-sur-Alzette, Kaunas and Novi Sad to harness the full potential of culture to enrich life experience and showcase many positive impacts in terms of social integration, territorial cohesion and economic growth.
A successful Capital of Culture is a capital that is open to the world, illustrating our Union’s willingness to promote culture as a driver for peace and mutual understanding worldwideMariya Gabriel, EU Commissioner for Innovation, Research, Culture, Education and Youth
3. Empowering the youth
The nomination of European capitals to promote culture also intends to be an inclusive tool to reach out, in particular the younger generation, while empowering them to become an actor of positive changes in the further development of cities across the EU.
After Luxembourg city in 1995 and 2007, this is now the turn of Esch-sur-Alzette, the second largest city in the country, to be crowned European Capital of Culture. Esch2022 wants to celebrate the history of a cross-border region located in the heart of Europe. Its cultural programme will tell the story of its evolution from the industrial age based on the steel industry until today’s knowledge society and its future potential in the era of digital revolution.
Kaunas is the second city in Lithuania to hold the European Capital of Culture title after Vilnius in 2009. During the interwar period, Kaunas was Lithuania’s capital city. It has now come back under the spotlight as an innovative, culturally vibrant European city. Its modernist architecture, which received the European Heritage Label, will get renewed attention and host many cultural events along the year 2022.
6. Novi Sad: Embracing the Balkans
Unlike Esch-sur-Alzette and Kaunas, Novi Sad is the first European Capital of Culture in Serbia. The yearlong cultural programme of Novi Sad aims to further connect the city’s and region’s cultural community and inhabitants with the EU and reinforce their links with the rest of the Western Balkans area.
The Serbian programme includes more than 1,500 cultural events and 4,000 local, national and international artists. It is based on eight thematic arches addressing issues of European relevance, such as migration, peace, multiculturalism and the role of women in art and youth culture.