Our third project workshop continued with the thematic discussions on maintaining the legacy of European Capital of Culture (ECoC) programme, and interregional learning from good practices.

What’s next after ECoC year?

From the Leeuwarden experience, it is important to record and show to politicians the positive economic impacts of the ECoC, to convince them about the rationale of continuation – and also, to start thinking together with other stakeholders about the legacy before the event year, as during the intensive ECoC programme there would be no resources and time to do so, and legacy actions should follow right after the event year.

An important challenge is to keep creative people in the region following the ECoC year – positive vibes and good community environment are crucial factors in this. How to keep this up after ECoC?

Matera has realised maybe with some delay that legacy needs SMEs especially and more specifically, since they had focused more on community activation, i.e. to achieve a positive shift in mentalities among the people in the region, which they have been very successful.

An institutional challenge is to get the public sector motivated to continue the financing of the ECoC Foundations/Associations who are in charge of preparing and coordinating the event, yet usually have mandate only for maximum 1-2 years if any length of continuation after the event year. This poses a challenge especially to Rijeka, and is expected to be problematic in other cities and regions affected by the economic crisis resulting from the pandemic.

It is often forgotten that the knowledge and innovations brought by artists and creative individuals triggered by the big event is an important resource to build legacy on; however, for this it is important to support the creation of mentorship networks, opportunities for peer-to-peer learning and transfers of experience and ideas both on a domestic scale but most importantly internationally across the ECoC regions.

Human as a crucial resource

ECoC does not entail just culture, but also social and economic impacts. Ultimately, ECoC projects are citizens’ projects. When confronted with a Pandemic, i.e. COVID-19, we, the citizens, form a resilient and resourceful force. Training of young people, inherently, shows great potential impact as an ECoC legacy.

Amidst the crisis, identifying the middle ground and finding innovative solutions is still achievable through all-inclusive dialogues. Matera’s good practice “Open Design School” has inspired Timisoara in this regard. The city of Matera created a networking platform for its local artists; where they can share and inspire each other and find solutions to their problems. This initiative shows great piloting potential for other artist communities in the partner cities.

The role of local resilience to reviving ECoC programme was also voiced by Rijeka and Kaunas partners – titleholders in 2020 and 2022, respectively. Mrs. Irena Kregar Šegota, the new CEO of Rijeka 2020, announced that the future actions will rely on domestic audiences and artists.

Read more: ECoC in times of Corona: Rijeka 2020

Startup simulation via “Launch Game” 

Launch Game sparks great interests for the Kaunas partners, who were already planning and discussing practicality with the Leeuwarden team during the discussions, such as on how to bring the event online for social-distancing participants, and how to distribute each counselling session wisely so that the advisors grasp a comprehensive idea of the startups, enough to provide thought-through advice.

For Rijeka partners, Launch Game is both an interesting example of creative technique to generate and evaluate business ideas, and a realistic case of concrete, SME-related good practice. Interregional exchanges of good practices – through Interreg Europe platform, and first-hand through the thematic discussions in our project workshop, is a great way to access new knowledge and get inspired by other regions.

The discussion also clarified the focal attention of Launch Game: the simulation aims at providing an overall picture of starting a business from scratch, the legality required and the resources offered in Leeuwarden and Friesland. Therefore, concentrating on smaller strategic pieces of the business that takes times to be properly refined, such as coming up with a business model or consumer profiling, will not be practiced in the events.

So far, past Launch Game events placed a heavy focus on the IT sectors. With Leeuwarden partners, it was discussed that Launch Game could, with small changes, be utilised to enhance cross-sectoral cooperation, e.g. creating new kind of business or products. An additional programme tailored for the culture and creative industry (CCI) was already under development. There is also going to be a Launch Game app which will make the use of it even easier.

Read more: Transforming tourism after the Pandemic

Photo credit: Grad Rijeka