Following the European Parliament’s proposal on the future of the European Capital of Culture – ECoC project from the year 2020 until 2033, in July 2012, the Department of Culture of the City of Rijeka included the candidacy for the ECoC 2020 title as one of the most important strategic goals of the Strategy of Cultural Development of the City of Rijeka 2013 –2020.
On 17 April 2013, the Rijeka City Council adopted the Strategy, by virtue of which the City of Rijeka officially announced its candidacy for the organisation of the European Capital of Culture 2020.
Following the Decision of the European Parliament and the Council (16 April 2014) on establishing a Union action for the European Capitals of Culture for the years 2020 to 2033, one Croatian and one Irish city will become a European Capital of Culture for the year 2020. This allowed the Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Croatia to publish the Call for submission of applications for the European Capital of Culture for the year 2020 in the Republic of Croatia on 11 June 2014.
The deadline for submission was set for 17 April 2015, followed by presentations in front of the independent panel of experts. The Panel’s decision to short-list four Croatian cities also concluded the first phase of the candidacy process. The Panel consists out of ten international and two local experts and will decide on one Croatian and one Irish city that will hold the title of the European Capital of Culture in the year 2020.
The Panel concluded that three Croatian cities, along with Rijeka, match the ECoC initiative criteria: Dubrovnik, Osijek and Pula. These four cities have to prepare new bid books by the end of 2015 based on recommendations and evaluation of the Panel. Submission of the second bid book will also be follwed by presentation in front of the Panel and Panel’s visit to the candidate cities. The Panel’s decisions on which Croatian and which Irish city will hold the title of the European Capital of Culture in 2020 are expected in the first half of 2016, followed by formal designation by respective ministries of culture.
The European Capital of Culture action is an initiative of the European Union which aims at highlighting this richness and diversity as well as common cultural aspects in Europe with a view to contributing to bring the peoples of Europe closer together and improve mutual understanding. The initiative also fosters the contribution of culture to the long-term development of cities in accordance with their respective strategies and priorities.
We see this initiative as a unique opportunity to increase both the scope and diversity of the cultural offer and the topicality, international recognisability and relevance of the city. This is also an opportunity for Rijeka to re-examine its own cultural and urban identity and find new identity and identification footholds, which will not face the past, but be filled with the wish to create new city contents and values.
Rijeka is applying for the title of the European Capital of Culture in order to motion wider processes that will open the doors to the future of the city and the entire region. One of the main preconditions for the realisation of that goal is the developed awareness on the driving force of culture, understood in the broad sense of the word, as well as the readiness of most residents of Rijeka and the Primorje – Gorski kotar County to become actively involved in project preparation and implementation. This is precisely the idea of the European Capital of Culture.