The European Capital of Culture : Aims, expectations, outcomes and cooperations in relation to this high profile mega event

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For a long time, culture and economy have been seen as two completely separate entities. Over the years, however, they tend to be seen complementary to each other, where culture can be of great value in the economy. Richard Florida’s books about the creative class have brought an intensified focus on cities and regions in this relationship. Here, culture has become more widely deployed to achieve regional development. The situation raises questions about what caused this shift in thinking about culture and economy and how cities are applying this fresh knowledge in their policies. This research therefore focuses on one single event which cities use for applying culture in their policies, namely, the one-year mega-event of the European Capital of Culture (called ECOC). Over the last decades, global competition has increased, with the result that place – and city marketing are more and more seen as necessary tools for cities to attract activities and visitors. The title of ECOC is seen as the third most important event which can take place in Europe, after the Olympic Games and the World/European Championship of Soccer. The ECOC was initially designed as an event lasting for a month and was purely based on cultural exchange, promoting cultural diversity and highlighting richness of cultures in Europe. Over the years, the event evolved into a whole-year event that is used for all sorts of development. It is now seen as an opportunity for urban regeneration, improving creativity inside the city and the overall image of the city. As a result, the ECOC is starting to look like an unique opportunity as big city marketing tool. Hence, the event is used as a catalyst in which culture plays an important role. Although the title of ECOC was initially given to a particular city, in most cases the location of the cultural programme has spread beyond city boundaries into suburbs and the surrounding regions. With the prospect of the Netherlands possibly hosting this event in 2018, several cities and regions are working on their bid books. Two of them are further explored in this study: Brabantstad (a cooperation of five Dutch cities in the province of Noord-Brabant) and Maastricht (known as MCH, a cross-border cooperation with partners from the Euregio Meuse-Rhine).
Faculteit der Managementwetenschappen