One of the success factors for past host cities has been their ability to involve cultural and socio-economic stakeholders and the local population. The event has to reconcile artistic standards with public enthusiasm.
Take advantage of others' experience
Especially those who have already prepared a Capital of Culture year. The Commission regularly organises info days and helps past, present and future host cities share good practice.
Plan a bottom-up process with stakeholders in the city
As early as possible, start working with local artists and arts organisations to identify and test mutually interesting project ideas. If these brainstorming sessions don't take place early on, many projects will never get off the ground.
Socio-economic bodies must also be involved from the very beginning.
This approach will also help build long term partnerships that will continue after the event.
An effective implementing body
The board of the body preparing the bid and the event must be able to take decisions quickly and consistently and finance projects.
In general, it is recommended to set up a specific structure dedicated to the event. People working it this structure have to be extremely experienced and competent to devise and implement such a big scale cultural event.
While it should have support from local authorities, its governance structure (board) must retain a certain independence.
There is no fixed rule regarding board members. In Turku (Finland - 2011) the national culture minister sits on the board - but in 2007 the Luxembourg board worked fine without politicians - just having a mix of stakeholders and civil servants. Certainly, successful host cities involve all stakeholders: national, regional, local and cultural.
On average, private sponsors contribute some 13% of the costs of the event (Capitals of Culture study (1995-2004)), though it can be as high as 30% (Stavanger, Norway, 2008).
Involve sponsors early – that way you'll be able to offer coverage over several years (preparation plus the year of the event).
It is also a good idea to persuade stakeholders to enlist artistic cooperation from abroad.
Summary of the 25 year anniversary conference [2 MB] on the European Capitals of Culture
The brochure: the road to success from 1985 to 2010 [8 MB]
European Capital of Culture for the years 2007 to 2019