Together with the Netherlands, Malta will be responsible for hosting The European Capital of Culture in 2018. The aim of the 25-year-old event is to ‘bring about the promotion of cultural excellence and will encourage localities to put culture at the heart of development and innovation. It will prove that culture is essential to city life, regeneration, education, the economy and social inclusion.’
Pioneered by former actress and then Greece’s minister of culture Melina Mercouri, the first city designated for the annual project was Athens in 1985. Since then, the initiative has consistently kept up its attempts to revitalise the cultural life of cities across the continent, the most recent title-holders being Essen, Istanbul and Pecs in 2010, with Tallin (Estonia) and Turku (Finland) taking on the responsibility this year.
During an info day held at The Exchange Buildings in Republic Street, Valletta today, Parliamentary Secretary for Tourism, the Environment and Culture Mario de Marco stressed that while 2018 may seem a long way away, it is actually a very short amount of time, given the challenges and responsibilities that come with being a European Capital of Culture.
De Marco characterised the initiative as “an important cultural tool” that has the potential to effect concrete urban transformation, apart from acting as a cultural showcase. The fact that not every city succeeds in its attempts is a reminder that there is, unfortunately, “no concrete measure of success” in this regard because “each city has a different story to tell,” and it is fruitless to compare previous candidates, de Marco said.
De Marco also made clear that Malta is looking forward to being involved in similar, future initiatives beyond 2018.
Speaking of how Malta could benefit from hosting the annual imitative, de Marco flagged up how it could stimulate an increased commitment in the cultural sector while placing culture high on the economic agenda. In this regard, de Marco was keen to stress that the cultural economy in fact makes up 4 to 5% of our GDP, a lot higher than what is popularly perceived, and that the initiative would continue to promote this boost.
De Marco stressed that the initiative’s success depends largely on a balanced, combined approach between “top and bottom”, and that engaging both political and business authorities for support is a must.
Find out more at https://secure2.gov.mt/ECOC/home?l=1.
Author: Teodor Reljic