The fourth meeting report | Debrecen, May 2019

Thank you for joining our fourth Culture Next meeting!

After the meetings in Cluj, Romania, and Aveiro, Portugal, it was Debrecen’s turn to host the fourth meeting of the network. 13 cities have joined an intensive program of discussions, presentations, working sessions and site visits in the beautiful city of Debrecen.

Meetings are among the current main activities of the network, and take place twice a year. While the first meeting in September 2017 aimed to establish the network’s profile, the next network meeting, which took place in Cluj in May 2018, focused on selecting priority areas, conceiving joint projects and platforms for cooperation between the member cities. The third network meeting was hosted by Aveiro, ECoC candidate for Portugal in 2027.

Our fourth meeting in Debrecen focused on the topic of cultural tourism and was organized by the Secretariat of the network – Cluj Cultural Centre and VisitDebrecen, our local host that we would like to thank for their effort in making the meeting so interesting and full.

Our special thanks go to Franciska Papp, Gábor Gődény, for making us feel home in Debrecen and providing a perfect context for our work. Also, our thanks go to Dr. Diána Széles (Vicemayor of Debrecen in charge of Tourism, Youth and Civil Society), Szabolcs Komolay (Vicemayor of Debrecen in charge of Culture) and Tamás Szentei (Head of the Cultural Department of Debrecen’s Mayor’s Office) for making this meeting possible.

We are excited to say that every meeting is a proof that the network is growing bigger and stronger, and are very happy that new cities joined our efforts to build an alliance of organisations and people committed to implementing and advocating for culture-led urban development.

Please read through our short report of the meeting and scroll through some of the main ideas and topics that we have been working on in Debrecen.

The fourth Culture Next meeting will take place in Debrecen, Hungary (May 23rd-26th)

The fourth Culture Next meeting will take place in Debrecen, Hungary on May 23rd – 26th, 2019.

The meeting in Debrecen includes working sessions, networking and membership activities, as well as a programme dedicated to exploring the local context,  and focuses on two main topics which we will approach in discussions and working sessions:

  1. Cultural tourism – a topic relevant for the local context in Debrecen and which will be approached in a public event and the local exploration visits (to be defined)
  2. Guidelines for culture in the cities – for which we will dedicate specific discussions and a working session aiming to formulate a draft proposal for an international guideline for culture as local development.

14 cities have already confirmed their participation in the meeting:
Debrecen (HU), Cluj-Napoca (RO), Eleusis (GR), Aveiro, Faro and Braga (PT), Klaipeda, Plunge and Neringa (LT), Gdansk (PL), Dublin (IR), Oulu (FI), Belfast (UK) and Nürnberg (DE).

There is no attendance or membership fee for the Culture Next network meetings. Travel and accommodation costs are covered by every participant city for their delegations.

If you want to get in touch with Culture Next or are interested in joining the talk that brings us together, check out the agenda of the meeting or register below.

Nine cities have participated at the 3rd meeting of Culture Next in Aveiro, Portugal

Aveiro (Portugal) hosted the third meeting of Culture Next – the network of candidate cities for the European Capital of Culture

Representatives of 9 cities from Portugal, Lithuania, Romania, Hungary and United Kingdom participated to the third annual meeting of Culture Next, the network of candidate cities for the European Capital of Culture (ECoC). The meeting was hosted in the city of Aveiro, Portugal and brought together representatives from the cultural sector and public administrations of member cities – including three cities from Portugal, which will host the ECoC title in 2027: Aveiro, Braga and Faro.

Since 2017, there have been two Culture Next meetings – both in Cluj-Napoca, in September 2017 and May 2018. During 1 and 2 October 2018, Aveiro hosted a network meeting, becoming the first city-host member of the network.

The event was an excellent opportunity for participants to meet the local professionals and to visit organizations, venues and cultural events in Aveiro and in the region: Aveiro Museum, Teatro Aveirense, Orquestra Filarmonia das Beiras, VIC – Aveiro Arts House, the historic complex of the Vista Alegre porcelain factory or Creative Science Park, a hub and design center of the University of Aveiro.

The agenda of the meeting included workshops for network members and experts, discussions and planning sessions of the network activities for the next 2 years.

Within the program, a public discussion on the topic ”Cultural Development of Cities – sharing good practices” was organized at Aveirense Theater. The speakers in this public discussion were Mattjis Maussen (independent expert) and Ștefan Teişanu (Director of the Cluj Cultural Centre) and more than 60 representatives of the cultural sector, the public and private sectors from Aveiro attended to this event.

As a result of the meeting, network members developed the activity plan for the next two years within Culture Next. This plan includes with priority the elaboration of a capacity building program for the members, formulating an international standard of cities which are using culture for urban development, and attracting new members on the network.

At the same time, the following meetings of the network were scheduled for May 2019 in Debrecen, Hungary (candidate city for ECoC in 2023), and in September 2019 in Klaipeda, Plunge and Neringa (candidate cities for the ECoC title in 2022).

Culture Next meeting in Aveiro (PT) | October 1st – 2nd, 2018

The third meeting of Culture Next. Candidate Cities Network, will take place on October, 1st and 2nd, 2018, in Aveiro, Portugal.

While the first meetings of the network, that took place in Cluj-Napoca, aimed to establish the network’s profile and priority areas, the current meeting aims to focus more on creating concrete collaborations and build a space for exchange and collective work between the members. Also, we take the opportunity for being hosted by Aveiro to focus on local challenges and explore the project that the city is preparing for the bidding process for the Aveiro’s candidacy to the ECoC title in 2027.

The conference includes working sessions, networking and membership activities, as well as a programme dedicated to exploring the local scene, as you will see in the agenda below.

See the agenda of the meeting here:

The Second Meeting of Culture Next Network in Cluj-Napoca, Romania

On May 4 and May 5 Liberty Technology Park in the Romanian city of Cluj-Napoca hosted Culture Next, the European Capital of Culture Candidates Cities Network.

The special guest of the conference was Pier Luigi Sacco, Professor of Cultural Economics at IULM University in Milan, Senior Researcher and Visiting Scholar at the Harvard University, and Special Adviser to the European Commissioner for Culture and Education. Professor Sacco delivered a key note speech on: Making an Impact through Culture – from Economic to Social Value Creation.

15 cultural managers from Aveiro (PT), Cluj-Napoca (RO), Debrecen (HU), Eleusis 2021 (GR), Klaipeda (LT), Leeds (UK) and Plunge (LT) and 100 cultural experts and business people from Cluj-Napoca took part in the meeting.

The Impact of Culture in Cities

Culture Next aims to gain wider European acknowledgement of culture as a factor for sustainable development. The Network encourages European cooperation between its member cities and their culture-driven local development programmes.

Sacco presented the results of one of his recent Harvard studies, showing that cultural participation has an essential role in the psychological well-being of individuals and communities. The research shows cultural participation as the second most influential aspect for psychological well-being in today’s society, exceeded in importance only by diseases, and surpassing the perceived impact of income, age, education, jobs and geography.

European cities can benefit from including culture in their strategies, as culture not only enhances citizen well-being, but also facilitates social cohesion and social innovation, stimulates new entrepreneurship, adoption of sustainable energy solutions and regeneration of derelict urban areas and raises the international profile and positioning of cities.

About Culture Next

Co-founded in 2017 by seven European cities, former or current candidates for the European Capital of Culture title, Culture Next supports cities to implement culture-driven urban development programmes and policies, building on the experiences, participatory processes and collaborations established during the European candidacies. The network also makes a contribution to the ECoC programme legacy, by facilitating the implementation of more ECoC programmes throughout Europe, independently of the results of the competition.

In 2018, Culture Next starts working on a capacity building programme for the member cities. Aveiro (Pt), Cluj-Napoca (Ro), Debrecen (Hu), Eleusis 2021 (Gr), Klaipeda (Lt), Leeds (UK) and Plunge (Lt) take turns in hosting meetings of the Network and use these meetings to showcase their cultural programmes, develop European partnerships and access international knowledge on their topics of interest.

The next meeting of Culture Next will be held in Aveiro, Portugal, in September 2018.

More details on

Cluj Cultural Centre is an independent cultural organisation working for the social transformation and sustainable development of Cluj-Napoca and Transylvania.

The Centre was established as a legacy project of the City’s candidacy for the European Capital of Culture title in 2021. Cluj Cultural Centre supports the cultural sector to partner with the local civil society, the business sector, the academia and the public administration, as well as with a wide range of European partners, in innovative and transformative projects. The Centre’s membership is made of 70 cultural institutions and organisations, universities, business clubs and clusters, civil society, local and regional administration forum.

Cluj-Napoca and Aveiro will host the next two conferences of the newly founded European cultural network

Representatives of the cultural sectors from Eleusis (Greece), Aveiro, Braga and Guimaraes (Portugal), Klaipeda and Plunge (Lithuania), Košice (Slovakia), Leeds (UK) and Cluj-Napoca, Timișoara, Târgu Mureș, Baia Mare, Alba Iulia and Sfântu Gheorghe (Romania) met in Cluj-Napoca to set up a European network around the topic of culture for urban development.

„Cluj-Napoca acknowledges the role of culture in the urban, social and economic development. We are the city having the highest cultural vitality in Romania and in our local development strategy culture is defined as a strategic element that connects the three pillars of urban development in Cluj: innovation, university and participation. We are looking for European ally cities that have the same focus as us and we made an open invitation to co-found a European network that will support re-thinking culture as a strategic factor in urban development across the continent”, says the director of Cluj Cultural Centre, Ștefan Teișanu.

The invited cities are current or former candidate cities for the title of European Capital of Culture. These cities have already proven their commitment to the idea of social and urban transformation through culture and have already set up large cultural programmes with this purpose, therefore cooperation between them can be fostered easily.

Kelly Diapouli, Artistic Director of Eleusis 2021 European Capital of Culture (Greece): ”We are willing and interested to contribute to the development of this network, as we believe that culture is indeed a transformative force in cities. With more and more cities making efforts to rethink the role of culture in their urban development, to connect them in a joint European project is not only a possibility, but also a must.”

Carlos Martins, former General Director of Guimaraes 2012 European Capital of Culture (Portugal): ”I salute this initiative. There are hundreds of European cities that were or are now bidding for the title of European Capital of Culture. All these candidacies build an immense portfolio of cultural projects that can make significant contribution to city development across Europe.”

Before the end of the year, the network will make its plans public and will invite other cities to join. The administrative activities and the general secretariat will be hosted in Cluj-Napoca (Romania). Starting with 2018, two annual conference and a capacity programme will give the members chances to debate and work together on common projects. In 2018, the conferences will be help in Cluj-Napoca (Romania) in May and Aveiro (Portugal) in September.

Emil Boc, the Mayor of Cluj-Napoca, Steve Green, the former chairman of the European Capital of Culture panel and András Farkas, the executive director of the European Network of Youth Capitals, attended the conference as guest speakers.

The conference was organised by the Cluj Cultural Centre and the Municipal House for Culture, with the support of Cluj-Napoca Municipality.