Brussels, 7 June 2013
European Capitals of Culture: EU panel recommends Riga and Umeå for €1.5 million Melina Mercouri Prize
The European panel in charge of monitoring preparations by the 2014 European Capitals of Culture, Riga (Latvia) and Umeå (Sweden), has recommended that the European Commission should award them the Melina Mercouri Prize in recognition of the quality of their preparations. The prize amounts to €1.5 million for each city.
Androulla Vassiliou, the European Commissioner responsible for Education, Culture, Multilingualism and Youth, said: "I congratulate both cities on their thorough preparations. The European Capitals of Culture initiative is one of the most successful schemes launched by the EU. For more than 25 years, it has been a catalyst for job creation, urban regeneration, tourism and for boosting the long-term development of the cities concerned. I wish both 2014 European Capitals of Culture the best of luck as they finalise their preparations for the start of what I am sure will be a very successful year."
As with all cities which have held the title of European Capital of Culture, Riga and Umeå have been assessed by a monitoring and advisory panel which ensures that their programme meets the criteria for the title and respects the pledges made by the cities before they were officially designated.
The cultural programme for the year must have a strong European dimension, reflected in the themes chosen and through the involvement of artists and cultural operators from different countries. The cities must also ensure that the event is attractive for the public and that it achieves a lasting impact by contributing to the long-term cultural and social development of the city.
The second and final monitoring meeting for the 2014 Capitals took place in Brussels in April. In its report, the panel recommends the cities for their preparations and states that the Commission should award both the Melina Mercouri Prize, which is named after the former Greek Culture Minister who inspired the launch of the European Capital of Culture initiative in 1985.
The European Capital of Culture is an excellent opportunity for the cities to change their image, to put themselves on the global map, attract more tourists, and to re-think their development through culture for the benefit of their residents. The title has a long-term impact, not only for culture but also in social and economic terms, both for the city and for the surrounding region.
Following Riga and Umeå in 2014, the future European Capitals of Culture will be Mons (Belgium) and Plzeň (Czech Republic) in 2015, Donostia-San Sebastian (Spain) and Wroclaw (Poland) in 2016, Paphos (Cyprus) and Aarhus (Denmark) in 2017, and Valetta (Malta) in 2018. A Dutch city will also be selected as European Capital of Culture in 2018.
European monitoring and assessment panel
The panel consists of seven members appointed by the European institutions. They are:
For more information
European Commission: Culture
Follow Androulla Vassiliou on Twitter @VassiliouEU