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Portugal 2027, A journey among the 12 candidate cities: Ponta Delgada

"9x9 Artist-in-residency Ching-Yu Cheng in Lagoa do Caldeirão, Corvo Island "9x9 Artist-in-residency Ching-Yu Cheng in Lagoa do Caldeirão, Corvo Island Photo by Andreia Silva

EcocNews begins a journey among the 12 Portuguese cities competing to become the European Capital of Culture in 2027. We asked all the application teams three same questions. Let's start with Ponta Delgada, Azores.

Ponta Delgada is the largest municipality and economic capital of the Autonomous Region of the Azores in Portugal. It is located on São Miguel Island, the largest and most populous in the archipelago. As of 2021, it has 67,287 inhabitants, in an area of 232.99 square kilometres (89.96 square miles).

The city's candidacy project is called Azores 2027, because it reflects the involvement of the entire archipelago in the application project  to strengthen cultural cooperation and capacity between the nine islands, through a participatory process, involving the Azorean community.

About the projects: 9 Islands in Conversation, The Azores 2027 coordination team carried out sounding board meetings throughout the archipelago aiming to meet with artists and cultural stakeholders and to promote encounters with the community. Hand in Hand, A pilot project of Azores 2027 that aimed to challenge people, informal groups and associations from various areas to present small cultural, social and educational projects. 9x9 - Artists are Islands, Islands are Artists, a pilot programme for Artists in Residency across all creative disciplines on the nine islands of the Azores that was intended for Portuguese and international artists living in Portugal in its mainland and autonomous regions. It was also appealing to artists from Latvia, who will host the European Capital of Culture event with Portugal in 2027.

What is the title of your first bidbook?

Human Nature is the concept of Azores 2027 - the bid project for Ponta Delgada, Azores, the European Capital of Culture. Nature means place, while Human means Culture. Human Nature aims to create a new dynamic in Ponta Delgada and the Azores, starting from the intimate relationship between Azorean Culture and Nature, taking Culture as a form of communication and as a tool to implement archipelagic thinking. Culture is the best way to abolish borders, unite places and blur dichotomies between center and periphery or between the islands and mainland. Using the most diverse artistic languages and cultural practices, the project intends to create bonds of affection and proximity and give new forms to our coexistence, promoting cultural co-creation, cooperation, participation, inclusion, sustainability and decentralization. The project aims to transform the Azores into a mirror of Europe: where there are 27 member states, there are 9 islands united in diversity, each one being part of a larger unit, working cooperatively to strengthen their Cultural Capacity and move from monoculture to cultural diversity

How are you involving citizens in this journey?

Azores 2027 ignited from a civic movement titled “For an ECoC in the Azores in 2027”, a manifesto signed by more than 800 people from the local population and civil society trusting this project to be a catalyst for change through culture. Azores 2027 takes a bottom-up and community-led strategy through Sharing Imagination, Community Building and Exercising Responsibility through Co-Creation. We did Open Door sessions in our Ponta Delgada downtown office to listen and clarify this project, and took this discussion to markets, museums, gardens, public swimming pools and theatres. We did labs to project the future together, connecting stakeholders from culture, environment, urbanism, human rights, education, and tourism. We went island-hopping in all islands of the Azores, held public focus group sessions and went to schools to devise our Archipelago of the Future.

We kept an active presence in TVs, newspapers, website (www.azores2027.eu) and social media platforms with strong engagement and a sense of belonging. We humanized this journey by: inviting an Ambassador to represent the candidacy on each island and encouraging the population to contribute to the programme; creating an Advisory Board and a Committee of Honour formed by more than 100 people who contribute to the regional, national and international affirmation of our purpose. We created three pilot programmes in partnership with other institutions to empower citizenship, participation and own implementation of initiatives: Hand in Hand, a microcredit programme to support nine projects favouring collaboration between islands and municipalities, the rapprochement of generations, practices of inclusion, sustainability and storytelling; 9 Neighbourhoods, a digital participative portal with interviews, profiles of artists, chronicles, island suggestions and a collection of clouds; 9X9 - Artist in residence Pilot Programme, a collaboration with Arquipélago - Contemporary Arts Centre and Part’Ilha - Cultural Association, across all creative disciplines on the nine islands of the Azores, hosting Portuguese and Latvian artists for projects with strong focus on audience outreach and community involvement. We are nowhere but the beginning.

What objectives do you intend to achieve?

Azores 2027 intends to promote the Azores’s cultural and artistic potential and increase its international visibility; showcase a cultural archipelagic experiment involving different communities, taking the islands as stages through an open to all, cooperative European-dimensioned cultural programme; create a movement of cultural exchange, democratic participation and mutual understanding extending a bridge to Europe and The Azorean diaspora; develop a programme that provides a clear artistic theme and framework, yet remains independent, elastic, transformable and open to suggestions; reach new audiences through new ways of participation that empower, give voice, include, produce knowledge and turn culture accessible; value our geography, history and heritage, a European outermost region, whose culture stems from its direct relation to nature; take artistic practices to nature and bring nature to art embracing responsibility and protection of nature, in line with the international goals of sustainable development; make space for culture at the heart of public spaces and strengthen ties of identification between society and culture; increase cultural, creative and transformative tourism in the Azores, and work towards making this increase and quality of experience permanent.



Serafino Paternoster

Ecocnews Founder, Journalist, repentant jazz guitarist, music critic and film lover.

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