European Capital of Culture Info Day


A well-attended Information Day on the European Capital of Culture for Malta in 2018 was held on Friday 4th March 2011¸ at the Malta Chamber of Commerce¸ Enterprise and Industry in Valletta. It was addressed by Dr. Mario de Marco¸ Parliamentary Secretary for Tourism¸ the Environment and Culture¸ Jacqueline Pacaud from the Directorate General for Education and Culture at the European Commission and Mary McCarthy¸ Director of Programmes and Deputy Director for Cork¸ the European Capital of Culture for 2005. It was introduced by Caldon Mercieca¸ Culture and Audio Visual Co-ordinator at the Parliamentary Secretariat for Tourism¸ Culture and The Environment.

Dr. de Marco underlined the fact that the winning bid for the title of European Capital of Culture has to tell its story in its own particular way. Malta’s will include both its Euro-Mediterranean dimension and the involvement of its citizens. Moreover¸ he stated that the regulatory framework of the cultural sector is being revisited in order to ensure and support an integrated framework of cultural infrastructure. What are being targeted are not just physical buildings¸ but the actual governance structures. These changes will integrate cultural objectives within wider social and economic obligations. This requires the participation of both the public and the private sector. There is the need to place culture high on the national agenda¸ and among the top tiers of economic regeneration. The draft cultural policy¸ for example¸ already spells out the need of consolidating cultural activity as an important facet within Malta’s economic potential.

Mme Jacqueline Pacaud explained what the European Capital of Culture project consists of. This project gives rise to the most visible European cultural events in scale and scope¸ and publicises the cultural excellence of a city. Projects should build on a city’s roots and identity but also focus on their European dimension. Projects have to be forward-looking and involve different stakeholders across a city’s society. The title can only be given to one city which can involve the region around it. Moreover¸ if a member state only presents one bid¸ there is no guarantee that it will be successful¸ because that bid will still have to fulfil all the established criteria and show that it can deliver a successful and sustainable programme.

Ms Mary McCarthy illustrated the process for the European Capital of Culture in 2005 in Cork in Ireland. She described it as a long ‘conversation’ that went on over a number of years. She stated that it was a long and tortuous process¸ but very valid to go through since culture helps a city realise and achieve its full potential. Ms McCarthy insisted that the project should not only be seen as a tourist extravaganza¸ but that it needs to pose the basic questions to the host community such as what it can mean for its citizens¸ and how it can be used to shine a spotlight on the community’s cultural strengths. She also said that a great European Capital of Culture Project is one which evolves a great vision¸ one which is authentic and honest to itself and is therefore distinct from that of other cities that have held the title.

During question time¸ it was highlighted that all the mayors of Malta and Gozo are supporting a joint bid led by Valletta and that this proposal has obtained cross-party support. T