One of the two cities titled European Capital of Culture 2027 has been announced. Liepāja, in Latvia, will hold the title alongside a currently undecided city in Portugal. The city is on the coast of western Latvia, and has historically been an important port city.
Liepāja’s theme for their year is “(un)rest”. Liepāja is seen as a birthplace of wind, which is a source of rest and unrest. The concept is based around the contrast between the feist force of creativity and overwhelming peace. They framed their application around five points:
Whilst Liepāja provides some insight into these points on their website, we’ll have to wait until 2027 to see them in practice.
In the context of the Russian war of aggression against Ukraine, European Capitals of Culture become all the more relevant.
Mariya Gabriel, European Commissioner for Innovation, Research, Culture, Education and Youth
Daugavpils, Liepāja, and Valmiera were all candidates for the final round of selections. Between the 9-10th May, a panel of independent experts examined the bids from the final three. In total, Liepāja beat out 8 other Latvian cities for the title.
Mariya Gabriel, European Commissioner for Innovation, Research, Culture, Education and Youth, said:
“After Riga in 2014, Liepāja will be the second city in Latvia to host the European Capital of Culture title in 2027. Hosting a European Capital of Culture is a unique opportunity for a city and its surrounding area to bring culture right to the heart of their communities and for their citizens to discover the rich diversity of cultural expressions existing in the European Union and beyond.
In the context of the Russian war of aggression against Ukraine, European Capitals of Culture become all the more relevant. They are an illustration of the EU’s willingness to create a union between peoples defending the values we cherish, i.e. peace, solidarity, freedom of speech or respect for the others.
I hope that Liepāja will take reap all the long-term cultural, economic and social benefits that the European Capital of Culture can bring.”
Most years, two European nations are offered the opportunity to put forth cities for the title. In 2027, the other city will be in Portugal. The Portuguese shortlist currently features Aveiro, Braga, Evora, and Ponta Delgada. The winner for the Portuguese selection will be based upon a mix of criteria, such as “cultural and artistic content”, the “European dimension”, and “capacity to deliver”. Similarly, the EU is keen to avoid a cultural ‘boom-and-bust’, meaning that cities have to consider long term impacts too.
The title is announced so far in advance to provide the cities with enough time to plan properly and develop infrastructure – which, if managed correctly, can provide social and economic benefits long into the future. More and better cultural infrastructure helps local communities, as well as inspiring visits from elsewhere. The prestige of the title often cultivates a better global image, which can help cities to market themselves to tourists. European Capitals of Culture are an opportunity for long-term benefits.
In 2028, a third nation will be offered the chance to nominate a city, bringing it up to 3 capitals of culture for that year. The other country will be not from the EU – an EFTA/EEA country, a candidate country or a potential candidate to EU membership.
What does a European Capital of Culture in 2022 look like? European public service channel Arte presents Esch-sur-Alzette, in Luxembourg:[German language]