The European Capital of Culture is one of the best-known and longest-running initiatives of the European Union. The main aim of the project is to highlight the diversity of cultures in Europe, celebrate the cultural features Europeans share, and foster the role of culture in the development of cities.
The impact of the project on the development of local culture and art is substantial but has also long-term implications on boosting tourism, creative industries, and other spheres of social and economic life. Cities with the title of the European Capital of Culture thus gain an excellent opportunity for the overall regeneration and transformation of their city and the surrounding region.
Since 1985, the title of the European Capital of Culture has been awarded to more than 50 cities across the European Union. In 2026, this title will be held by one Slovak and one Finnish city.
How is the European Capital of Culture selected?
The selection of the winner of the competition from all registered Slovak cities will take place in two phases – with the deadline for submitting the first application by 31 October 2020 and subsequently revised application by 31 August 2021. The winning city will be selected by a commission of independent international experts.
This application (the so-called bid book) describes in detail the specific intention of the city’s development, the planned cultural and artistic program, the management structure, etc. Each application must be based on a strong cultural program with a strong European dimension.
The main criteria for assessing applications will focus on:
- Contribution to the long-term cultural strategy
- Cultural and artistic content
- European dimension
- Capacity to deliver
The European Capitals of Culture are selected and formally appointed four years before the current year of the title, in the case of Slovakia at the end of 2021. Although this seems like a relatively long time, the experience of past cities shows that this period is needed for proper planning and preparation of a comprehensive year-round event.