European Capitals of Culture is an EU funded initiative that provides support to cities for a yearlong celebration of art and culture. This initiative is strongly consolidated, as it was developed in 1985 and has, to date, been awarded to more than 60 cities across the European Union (EU) and beyond.
Six years before the title year, the selected host Member States publish a call for applications, usually through their Ministry for Culture. Cities interested in participating in the competition must submit a proposal for consideration. European Capitals of Culture are formally designated four years before the actual title year. This long period of time is necessary for the planning and preparation of such a complex event. It is also the time needed to embed the event in a longer-term cultural strategy, to significantly engage with the citizens, to make the necessary European connections and to ensure the right infrastructure is in place.
Latvia and Portugal will both host a European Capital of Culture in 2027. Latvia published its call in August 2020, Portugal published its call in November 2020 and will have its pre-selection meeting in early 2022; after other 10 months the final title will be assigned.
During the presentation ceremony of the management body of Aveiro 2027 https://aveiro2027.pt/en/, Carlos Moedas stated his conviction that Aveiro will be the city chosen as the European Capital of Culture, for having “something that differentiates it from all other options: it’s extraordinary link between art, science and innovation”.
José Pina, Aveiro’s ECOC Executive Committee leader, Cultural Advisor of the mayor and Director of Teatro Aveirense, declared that ASC, will represent a fundamental asset for the candidacy.
In particular, he underlines the importance of “artistic and creative skills for young pupils”, developed through the numerous initiatives launched in the framework of the UIA funded project, such as the Tech Labs.
“Our strength in the Tech industry might be decisive, ‘cause the city combines in its strategic plan technology with art and culture, by design. Tech is a competitive factor and a vocation for our territory: it’s an economic engine for SMEs and NGOs; also, the academic presence in the city with laboratories and research centers will be extremely valuable and it’s something that belongs to Aveiro’s tradition and DNA. We want to be one of the most important cities in Portugal for tech and for the art-tech domain”.
In its ECOC application program, the executive committee underlines how the STEAM education is strongly supported and try to bring into the project all the experience gained with the tech labs, the approach tested and adopted with the students in the tech domain; also, public events such as the light festival and art in the public space is underlined. The Aveiro tech week represents a big legacy, and all these programs and initiatives combined together are strategic areas that will be supported and pursued in the future as well.
The executive committee is working together with Andre Costa, Head of Economic Development and Entrepreneurship Division of Aveiro City Council, ASC project manager and also member of the Aveiro ECOC board commission; moreover, a number of professionals in the ASC’s team share, on daily bases, experience and contacts with the Aveiro ECOC team, creating powerful positive mixes, putting together strengths and energies and, above all, sharing and capitalizing the acquired knowledge.
Finally, in terms of international relations, the Aveiro ECOC team is taking advantages from the networking of ASC team: they are working together with several cities in building the program for the candidacy, for example with the city of Oulu, in Finland, that won the title for 2026. Oulu is helping the city of Aveiro on projects based on the art tech domain, such as the PRISMA Light festival and also on projects with schools, with the ERASMUS program and in the environment domain.