An independent commission of international experts decided that the Capital of Culture 2024 from Estonia will be Tartu. In addition to the Estonian city, one city from Austria and one European city that does not belong to the European Union will bear the title of European Capital of Culture 2024.
The European Capital of Culture has been chosen since 1985. It has become one of the European Union’s most impactful undertakings in the cultural field, which provides cities with additional funding, encourages them to set long-term goals, and increases the number of tourists.
“In 2024, an Estonian city will again become the European Capital of Culture. If it was Tallinn in 2011, then now it is Tartu’s turn to be the centre of attention for a whole year. The title of European Capital of Culture provides an excellent opportunity to enliven the city’s cultural life and bring culture and cultural heritage home to the people. It also provides an opportunity to introduce the city and its cultural values to visitors from Europe and the rest of the world, as well as to value the cultural differences on our continent,” said Tibor Navracsics, the European Commissioner for Education, Culture, Youth and Sport.
The competition for the European Capital of Culture 2024 started in November of 2017. By the deadline in October of 2018, the Estonian cities of Kuressaare, Narva and Tartu had filed applications. After the pre-selection round was completed, the candidates remaining were Narva and Tartu.
“I’m glad that we had a truly strong competition in the final found. Both cities, Narva as well as Tartu, did a very thorough job. Although the winner has been declared, the application process itself provided the cities that participated an excellent opportunity to highlight the importance and role of culture in the development of their city and region more broadly. Therefore, it’s always a good idea to develop good projects further and to carry them out,” said Minister of Culture Tõnis Lukas.
The Estonian government will support the implementation of the Capital of Culture programme to the same extent as the local government and other financial sources, with a maximum amount of €10 million. The European Commission will award the Melina Mercouri Prize, in the amount of half a million euros, to the Capital of Culture. The applications were assessed by a 12-member independent commission of international experts.
The candidate cities had to prepare a strong cultural programme with a European dimension that would promote participation by both the city and surrounding vicinity, as well as attract visitors from the entire country and the rest of Europe. The programme should also have a permanent impact on and assist in the city’s long-term development. The cities must always show that they have the support of the local government and the ability to carry out the project. European institutions and agencies named ten representatives to the commission, including three from the European Parliament, three from the Council of Europe, three from the European Commission, and one from the European Committee of the Regions. The Estonian experts Anu Kivilo and Mikko Fritze participated in the work of the commission as the Estonian experts.
“The candidacy forced the community to look inside itself and to assess its opportunities and capabilities. I wish Tartu continued strength, because the realisation phase is about to begin that will definitely be labour-intensive, but will be rewarded with the benefits and attention that is related to being part of Europe’s sphere of interest,” noted Toivo Riimaa, Deputy Director for International Relations at the Association of Estonian Cities and Rural Municipalities.
In addition to Estonia, one city from Austria, as well as one from either a European Free Trade Association country (Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, Switzerland), an EU candidate country (Albania, North-Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia, Turkey) or possible candidate country (Bosnia and Herzegovina or Kosovo) will bear the title of European Capital of Culture 2024. The winner from the last group will be announced on September 25th, and the Capital of Culture from Austria will be made known on November 12th.
This year’s European Capitals of Culture are Matera in Italy and Plovdiv in Bulgaria. Next year, the title will go to the port city of Rijeka in Croatia and Galway in Ireland. In 2021, the titleholders will be Elefsina in Greece, Timisoara in Romania, as well as Novi Sad in Serbia. In 2022, it will be Kaunas in Lithuania and Esch-sur-Alzette in Luxembourg. In 2023, there will be one Capital of Culture and it will be in Hungary.
More information about the European Capitals of Culture is available on the European Commission website.