European Commission, Culture, education and youth
On 20 January European Commissioner Androulla Vassiliou will participate in the opening ceremony of "Košice 2013 – European Capital of Culture" at the historic State Theatre.
The opening events will take place on 19 and 20 January and will kick off a year-long cultural programme which will profile Košice as the crossing of old routes between East and West. The launch events will take place at various locations in the city, including the State Theatre, the Steel Arena, the Podium as well various clubs, restaurants and cultural venues.
The European Capitals of Culture is the one of the EU's best known cultural initiatives. Its aim is to promote and celebrate Europe's rich cultural diversity and heritage, as well as to promote mutual understanding and intercultural dialogue. The European Capitals of Culture are also an opportunity for cities to boost tourism, jobs and growth, and to transform their image.
A successful Capital which embeds culture as part of a long-term development strategy can bring significant long-term cultural, economic and social benefits. On average it leads to a 12% increase in tourism and millions of visits to cultural events, with strong benefits for the retail, hotel and catering sectors. The initiative can also be a catalyst for regeneration and new cultural infrastructure, as well as promoting new skills for cultural operators and strengthening a city's cultural vibrancy and international outlook.
Since 2010, each European Capital of Culture meeting the commitments it made at the selection stage receives the Melina Mercouri Prize, worth €1.5 million. In addition, many Capitals benefit from additional funding from the European Regional Development Fund.
This is the first time that a Slovak city has held the title. It is an opportunity for Košice, its region and Slovakia as a whole to be in the international limelight for what promises to be the largest cultural project in the history of the country.
Since 1985, more than 40 cities have been designated European Capitals of Culture.
Androulla Vassiliou, the European Commissioner for Education, Culture, Multilingualism and Youth, will give a speech at the opening ceremony at the State Theatre of Košice together with Richard Raši, Mayor of Košice, Marek Maďarič, Slovakia's Minister of Culture and Zdenko Trebuľa, President of the Košice Region.