27 European cities met in Elefsina during June 9 and June 11 for the 9th conference of the Culture Next network. Designed as a space for exploration, the meeting offered the participating cities opportunities to connect with the Eleusis 2023 cultural programme and with relevant European networks and initiatives.

This was the first conference of the network ever hosted in a current European Capital of Culture. Elefsina was the first ECoC awarded city to see the potential and the urgency of supporting not awarded cities in the implementation of their programme and now they proved it once more. Current and former candidates, awarded or not, we believe that all the ECoC cities should put their programme into practice. Culture can really make a difference for us all – Ștefan Teișanu, Culture Next Secretary General

Just before its own meeting, Culture Next participated in the Culture Action Europe conference dedicated to the Culture for Health initiative, for the workshop ”Care cities: Enhancing Urban Well-Being through Culture”, designed to offer a quick overview on current endeavours and future possibilities to include the well-being component in local cultural strategies. On the same day, the Board and the Executive Team of Culture Next had their periodical Management & Policy Meeting, to discuss

June 10 was the public day of the Culture Next Conference, hosting cities presentations, an introduction to the Culture Next Plan, keynotes and workshops from external guest and visits to cultural events and venues in Elefsina. Beatriz Garcia from the University of Liverpool and the Centre for Cultural Value was the keynote speaker of the conference, with a presentation of the impact of the European Capital of Culture programmes, before Marta Llobet (UCLG Committee on Culture) and Fanny Bouquerel (Roberto Cimetta Fund) delivered two dedicated workshops: ”A cultural boost in the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals” and respectively ”International mobility today”.

June 11 was dedicated to members’ training and internal discussions on network projects and network development. Some of the Culture Next member cities that have been successful in bidding for ECoC (Trencin and Oulu), in implementing ECoC programmes (Elefsina and Leeds) and in setting up legacy organisations (Leeuwarden and Galway) prepared workshops to transfer these experiences to others.

Culture Next would like to thank to Mayor Argyris Oikonomou, Eleusis 2023 CEO Nana Spyropoulou, Eleusis 2023 Artistic Director Michail Marmarinos and Eleusis 2023 Director of Cultural Traning Angeliki Lampiri and the entire Elefsina team for their warm welcome and their contribution to the network throughout the years.

Other two Culture Next conferences will take place this year in Belfast (September 12-14) and Leeuwarden (November 22-24).

Culture Next has 30 member cities, and other cities can join as observing members after they take part in at least one conference of the network. All current activities of Culture Next are co-funded by the European Union through the Creative Europe project.