“Since the first edition of the European City of Culture in 1985 in Athens a great deal has been published about the programme, the candidates and the cities. This archive aims to bring as many records together for the benefit of researchers, candidates and those interested in cultural policy and cities.
The programme has changed considerably over time. The objectives, the scope and the processes are now, in the 2020s, far different from the early days or indeed from the 2010s.
At its core is the “European Dimension”. A strange term but in brief it means that an ECOC is not only an opportunity for a city to highlight and celebrate its own culture but to raise the awareness of its own citizens of the diversity of cultures in Europe. This objective makes the ECOC stand out compared to the increasing number of national city of culture titles coming in its wake.
The changes reflect over 30 years development and awareness of the roles culture can play in a city´s wellbeing and prosperity. They also reflect how the scope of culture has evolved. It now encompasses the creative industries, the arts in social settings and urban regeneration. It is no longer a simple, although large, arts festival.