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Minister Humphreys Announces Competition for European Capital of Culture 2020

Dec 17, 2014
  • Minister secures Government agreement to hold open competition for Irish city to host European Capital of Culture 2020
  • Opportunity only arises every 15 years
  • Designation will provide opportunity to showcase Irish culture and boost tourism
  • Winning city will benefit from increased cultural profile

The Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, Heather Humphreys, has today (Wednesday, 17th December) announced an open competition for the selection of an Irish city as European Capital of Culture 2020. Under the programme, two cities are designated a Capital of Culture each year. In 2020, Ireland will share the designation with Croatia.

The competition will be organised by the Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht. Decisions on the short listing and selection of the European Capital of Culture will be made by an International Panel of ten experts appointed by the European Institutions. Ireland also has the option of appointing two individuals to this Panel; Minister Humphreys intends to invite submissions for these positions in the New Year.

Interested cities have 10 months in which to make an application. A shortlist will then be drawn up, and the shortlisted cities will have a further 9 months in which to develop and refine their applications. The winning city will be named in mid to late 2016, leaving at least three years to prepare for the year of designation in 2020. The European Union provides funding of €1.5 million for the winning city by way of the Melina Mercouri prize.

Speaking today Minister Humphreys said:

"The European Capital of Culture provides Ireland with a wonderful opportunity to showcase our culture and all that it entails. The opportunity to host the Capital of Culture only comes around every 15 years or so; indeed, we are not expected to be offered this chance again until 2034. So I am delighted to have secured the support of my Government colleagues to announce the competition, which will run over the next year and a half.

"I know there is already considerable interest from a number of Irish cities, and I have no doubt that the competition will be intense. For the winning city, 2020 will be a year when it can revel in the European spotlight. The designation will allow the cultural profile of the winning city to be promoted at EU level and internationally. This will have a positive impact on economic activity, jobs and tourism.

"The 2014 Irish City of Culture is drawing to a close this month in Limerick. It has been widely acknowledged that the year of events has been a major success, which I saw for myself when I visited the city in October. There had been an expectation that the next Irish City of Culture would be held in 2018. However, due to the level of Exchequer funding which would be required, and so as not to dilute the importance of the European Capital of Culture in 2020, it has been decided to defer the next Irish City of Culture.

"The level of Exchequer funding needed for the successful host city in 2020 is not yet finalised. I have provided the Government with an indicative figure of €15 million, and once the nomination process has concluded firmer proposals on the level of Exchequer funding required will be brought to Government. It is expected that roughly 60% of the funding will be required in 2019, with the balance in 2020. However, I do not envisage the Exchequer providing more than half of the cost of the event, and any city which vies for the title must have the capacity to put together a strong funding package at local level.

"A dedicated section is being set up on my Department's website, where information and application forms can be accessed. My Department is also liaising with the European Commission, which will hold an information day in Dublin in January. I would like to wish all cities planning to bid for the coveted title of European Capital of Culture 2020 all the very best."