What is ECoC?

The European Capital of Culture is a cultural project and title that has been awarded to competing cities since 1985 by the European Commission, which are required to prove that they consider culture an important aspect of their development and transformation. The European Capital of Culture (ECoC) project provides financing for the cultural development of the city that is awarded the title from European public, national, regional and local funds, as well as contributions from sponsors.

By becoming the European Capital of Culture, Rijeka has been inscribed on the list of about 60 European cities that have held the title so far, such as Marseille, Linz, Essen, Graz, Dublin, Liverpool, Athens, Rotterdam, Genoa and many others. Rijeka is also the first Croatian city to hold the title.

What is the purpose of this project?

The basic idea behind this project is to connect European citizens by introducing and learning more about the cultural diversity of the countries that make up the total wealth of Europe. The cities holding the title have had and will always have the opportunity to proudly present their locations, customs and events. However, over time, the project has progressed beyond merely focusing on the celebratory year and has enabled the long-term development of culture in European cities holding the title.

This includes the development of long-term cultural projects, such as festivals and events, the construction of cultural buildings and investment in education during the preparations for the celebratory year… Many things are created that will continue to exist in the city even after it no longer holds the title. This is a way for the European Commission to embed culture in the long-term development of cities.

What values are associated with the Rijeka 2020 European Capital of Culture project?

  • This large-scale European project ensures the recognisability of the country and the city that holds the title of European Capital of Culture at the European and global levels. This project embodies the belief and understanding that the European countries are an integral part of European cultural diversity.
  • The long-term implementation of this project makes Europe stronger through the field of culture, while its citizens become more familiar with each other and form a closer connection.
  • Artists from the country that holds the title of European Capital of Culture have the opportunity to present their work in front of the European cultural audience, as well as establish fruitful cooperation with fellow artists from Europe and the rest of the world who will come to the city that holds the title of European Capital of Culture.
  • The project does not just represent Rijeka and the region, since it is a national project that ensures the recognisability of all of Croatia in Europe and the rest of the world. This will increase the visibility of Croatian citizens on the cultural map of Europe as they become an integral part of cultural diversity.
  • The European Capital of Culture project in Rijeka has its own specific characteristics. Immediately after submitting their candidacy, Rijeka approached the project taking into account its transformation as much as the context of the future cultural offering of the city.

How does the title of the European Capital of Culture benefit Rijeka and Primorje-Gorski Kotar County?

  • It should be noted that this project will allow Rijeka and Primorje-Gorski Kotar County to use European funds for the construction of cultural buildings in the former industrial complex of the Rikard Benčić factory, thus permanently becoming an art neighbourhood in Rijeka. Citizens will be able to further enjoy the cultural content provided in these facilities even after 2020, when they can attend a top-notch cultural programme that offers a unique experience.
  • Cultural events that will continue in Rijeka even after 2020 are also being developed as part of the project, including the Tobogan Children’s Festival and Porto Etno, a festival that celebrates worldwide music and cuisine.
  • Several training programmes in the fields of cultural event organisation, cultural production etc. have been organised for citizens from Rijeka and the region, so that festivals, concerts, exhibitions, open-air plays etc. could be successfully organised and held there even after 2020.
  • The citizens of Rijeka became involved in the project and proposed different ideas for improving life in the city, which would then be financed from the European Capital of Culture fund. This allows the citizens to assume an active role in developing Rijeka and the aforementioned projects to continue after 2020.
  • The incomes of local and regional hospitality proprietors, renters and tourism workers will grow as a result of the increasing number of visitors in Rijeka and the region in 2020 and subsequent years. Children, young people and students will be given the chance to develop their own creativity, receive training in the field of culture and participate in the advancement of creative industries. Members of cultural associations and organisations are involved in the 2020 celebratory programme, either as active participants or attendees, and establish valuable cultural cooperation that will continue to have an impact on cultural development. By becoming involved in the project as sponsors, entrepreneurs and businesspersons will enhance the visibility of their companies and showcase their businesses to Croatian and European citizens.
  • The young people employed by RIJEKA 2020 d.o.o. are cooperating with all the cultural institutions in Rijeka and various other associations and partners in the preparation and organisation of programmes in 2020, when Rijeka will hold the title of the European Capital of Culture. Rijeka will be placed in the European spotlight that year by offering its citizens – as well as Croatian and European citizens and the numerous tourists and guests – a plethora of attractive, large- and small-scale cultural and entertainment programmes that cater to all tastes, ranging from the eye-catching opening ceremony, open-air plays, major exhibitions and festivals, conferences dealing with a variety of topics, concerts and films to interesting layouts of public spaces in the city and the opening of refurbished cultural buildings.

Rijeka ECoC in numbers

Through the Rijeka 2020 – European Capital of Culture project, Rijeka aims to upgrade the scope and the variety of its cultural offer, expand the access to and the participation in culture, reinforce the capacities in the culture sector and its ties to other sectors, and improve the international visibility and profile of the city and the region.