In Europe as a whole, the cultural and creative sector accounted for 2.6% of the GDP in 2003.
Being European Capital of Culture is a unique opportunity for regeneration and promotion – to improve the city and the way it is perceived, to boost their creativity and to change their image. The event:
- was rated as the most beneficial cultural event for cities in terms of development by 80% of respondents in a survey of people who had managed such years (see the Palmer report)
- boosts the number of visitors to the city during the year and in the following year. On average on the 1995-2004 period, the number of overnight stays rise by 12% in the year itself.
- can generate a return of €8-10 for every €1 invested, according to estimates from experts in the field. Thus the event can contribute significantly to growth and employment.
- can also promote social inclusion and intercultural dialogue. Some Capitals have managed this through imaginative community outreach programmes and effective use of volunteers.
With regard to budgets, the following figures relate to European Capitals of Culture 1995-2004:
- Total operating expenditure – €8m-74m
- Total capital expenditure – €10m-220m
- 77% of funding comes from public sources
- 13% from private sponsors
For further information, see:
European Cities and Capitals of Culture – “Palmer Report”, 2004
Benefits are not automatic. To get the most out of the year, cities must ensure the event is well-managed from start to finish, and avoid certain pitfalls:
- National and local stakeholders must honour their commitments, both during the preparation phase and the year itself.
- Local authorities must be aware of potential problems – criticism, disappointments, political risks, financial difficulties – and the risk of a poor return on public investment if the event is poorly managed
- Strong cross-party political backing is needed for the planned event, and for key staff (managers and artistic directors). This helps to ensure financial stability and continued commitment in case of a shift in political power at city or national level.
Not all applicant cities are selected, but the past has shown that all cities seriously preparing a proposal reap the benefits of a new way of thinking about culture in the city. By mobilising stakeholders in the area, thinking about cultural policy and identifying potential partnerships, a new impetus can be given to the city's cultural life.