European Capitals of Culture - Regional Development and Culture

Tue 8, October 2019
12:30 - 13:30 CET

European Capitals of Culture (ECoCs) is one of the most successful programmes in the EU, promoting cultural diversity in Europe and contributing to the long-term development of cities and regions. Running since 1985, over 60 different European cities and regions have hosted the title year.

This session "Regional Development and Culture" will examine how opportunities associated with the ECoC model can provide an exceptional model for using culture as a tool to drive long-term societal innovation and growth – and how practitioners and policy-makers can work more closely to map this. Four cities/regions will be present to discuss their experience in preparing and delivering European Capitals of Culture in different contexts across four years: 

  • Aarhus 2017 (DK)
  • Leeuwarden 2018 (NL)
  • Matera 2019 (IT)
  • Galway 2020 (IE)

Experts from these cities/regions will explore the significant local development potential of cultural methodologies in terms of the relationships between the urban centre and the wider regional/rural hinterland in the context of the ECoC programme and its legacy. 

The session will be introduced by Mairead McGuinness, Vice-President of the European Parliament.



David Minton, Director, North Western Regional Assembly, Ireland.
Marilyn Gaughan-Reddan, Head of Programme, Galway 2020, Ireland.
Nienk Hoepman, Opgavemanager Kultuer & Gastfrijheid, Leeuwarden-Fryslân 2028, Netherlands.
Rosella Tarantino, Development and Relations Manager, Matera 2019, Italy.
Lene Øster, Senior Advisor and Dept. Head of Culture, City of Aarhus/ Aarhus 2018, Denmark.
Q&A on presented theme
The Future of the EU and the roles of the Regions and Cities
East-Jutland, Galway, Leeuwarden, Matera
English (EN)

Session summary

The session discussed in detail the advantages of European Capitals of Culture and the contribution the initiative can have on regional development. 

The panel was hosted by the Northern and Western Regional Assembly and introduced by Mairead McGuinness, MEP and Vice President of the European Parliament. She introduced the session, highlighting the benefits that culture can bring to regions. 

The regions present at the session included Aarhus 2017, Leeuwarden 2018, Matera 2019 and Galway 2020 - all European Capitals of Culture have programmes in their respective regions. 

The legacy that European Capitals of Culture can bring to a region is significant - culturally, in developing the sector, socially in creating engagement with culture and participation in cultural programmes that citizens would not have engaged with previously and economically in terms of visits to a region and potentially infrastructure where this is part of European Capitals of Culture. 



Take away message

Legcay is important for European Capitals of Culture and should not start post the European Capital of Culture year but at time of submission of the European Capital of Culture bid. This should be closely linked to cultural strategies and ambitions of the city and region for culture and regional development.