An independent commission of international experts decided on 28 August in Tallinn that the Capital of Culture 2024 from Estonia will be Tartu; in addition, one city from Austria and one European city that does not belong to the European Union will bear the title.
“In 2024, an Estonian city will again become the European Capital of Culture. If it was Tallinn in 2011, then now it is Tartu’s turn to be the centre of attention for a whole year,” Tibor Navracsics, the European Commissioner for Education, Culture, Youth and Sport, said in a statement.
“The title of European Capital of Culture provides an excellent opportunity to enliven the city’s cultural life and bring culture and cultural heritage home to the people. It also provides an opportunity to introduce the city and its cultural values to visitors from Europe and the rest of the world, as well as to value the cultural differences on our continent.”
The European Capital of Culture has been chosen since 1985. It has become one of the European Union’s most impactful undertakings in the cultural field, which provides cities and towns with additional funding, encourages them to set long-term goals and increases the number of tourists, the Estonian ministry of culture said in a statement.
A strong cultural programme with an European dimension
The competition for the European Capital of Culture 2024 started in November of 2017. By the deadline in October of 2018, the Estonian towns of Kuressaare, Narva and Tartu had filed applications. After the pre-selection round was completed, the candidates remaining were Narva and Tartu.
The Estonian government will support the implementation of the Capital of Culture programme to the same extent as the local government and other financial sources, with a maximum amount of €10 million. The European Commission will award the Melina Mercouri Prize, in the amount of €500,000, to the Capital of Culture.
The applications were assessed by a 12-member independent commission of international experts. The candidate cities had to prepare a strong cultural programme with a European dimension that would promote participation by both the city and surrounding vicinity, as well as attract visitors from the entire country and the rest of Europe.
The other capitals of culture to be declared by November
In addition to Estonia, one city from Austria, as well as one from either a European Free Trade Association country (Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, Switzerland), an EU candidate country (Albania, North-Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia, Turkey) or possible candidate country (Bosnia and Herzegovina or Kosovo) will bear the title of European Capital of Culture 2024. The winner from the last group will be announced on 25 September, and the Capital of Culture from Austria will be made known on 12 November.
This year’s European capitals of culture are Matera in Italy and Plovdiv in Bulgaria. In 2020, the title will go to the port city of Rijeka in Croatia and Galway in Ireland. In 2021, the titleholders will be Elefsina in Greece, Timisoara in Romania, as well as Novi Sad in Serbia. In 2022, it will be Kaunas in Lithuania and Esch-sur-Alzette in Luxembourg. In 2023, there will be one Capital of Culture and it will be in Hungary.
Read also: Berk Vaher: Tartu shares arts of survival with Europe for 2024.
Cover: Tartu Town Hall Square.