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Portugal 2027, A journey among the 12 candidate cities: Aveiro

Aveiro Aveiro Photo by Pixabay

Ecocnews continues its journey among the 12 Portuguese cities that are candidates for European capital of culture for 2027. We asked all the application teams three same questions. After Leiria, Ponta Delgada, Evora, and Braga today EcocNews makes a stop in Aveiro.

Aveiro is a city and a municipality in Portugal. In 2021, the population was 80,880,in an area of 197.58 square kilometres. It is the second most populous city in the Centro Region of Portugal (after Coimbra). Along with the neighbouring city of Ílhavo, Aveiro is part of an urban agglomeration that includes 120,000 inhabitants, making it one of the most important populated regions by density in the North Region, and primary centre of the Intermunicipal Community of Aveiro and Baixo Vouga.

The old town centre, with its Art Nouveau and Romanesque architecture and "gondolas" (barcos moliceiros once used for collecting moliço seaweed) plying the Ria de Aveiro canals, is referred to as "The Venice of Portugal" in some tourist brochures.

Important tourist attractions are the Arte Nova (Art Nouveau) architectural designs and tiles of some buildings that were created in the early 20th century,the Art Nouveau museum, the Aveiro Museum (Museu de Aveiro, formerly the Mosteiro de Jesus convent with exhibits of King Afonso V's daughter, Santa Joana), the 15th century Aveiro Sé or São Domingos cathedral and the Church of Jesus (Igreja de Jesus) with its beautiful architecture. The nearby beaches, Costa Nova and Barra, attract many visitors in warm weather; they can be reached by bus from Aveiro. Other sites of interest to tourists include the Carmelite Church and the Misericórdia Church built in the 16th century.

In July 2018, they have started to prepare a local cultural strategy for culture. It’s an open and participative process that will assess, listen and reflect about the cultural policies that will guide the city until 2030. This strategic map will support Aveiro’s future bid for European Capital of Culture.

What is the title of your first bidbook?

Our project wants to bring a paradigm shift in different aspects of Aveiro’s community life, based on four key dimensions: Culture, Nature, Tech and Soul. That’s why, since the very beginning, we use the slogan “And it will change everything”. The cultural programme uses of the four elements of nature metaphor and their connection with the city of Aveiro landscape and history: The earth brought salt to be harvested and clay to be moulded into ceramics which then was formed into tiles by fire; the ocean and rivers brought fish and trade, and the climate and atmosphere nurtured a delicate and fertile ecosystem. Yet, it was another element - Culture - that made this combination meaningful.

Today, a culture shift is underway not only in Aveiro, but throughout Europe and the entire planet. It is demanding a new balance within and between the elements through a focus on cohabitation, inclusion, tolerance, and justice. We believe Aveiro can be a springboard for Europe, where culture and creativity will be the core ingredients for a more sustainable, democratic, cohesive, and resilient future together: as Aveirenses, as Europeans, and as Human beings.

How are you involving citizens in this journey? 

Throughout the application, we have taken great care to ensure that local people and communities have been with us on our quest to create more engaged and cohesive communities. And we are continuing to do so by seeking a snowball effect, #OnePersonAtATime. First, our bid is a joint initiative of both the Municipality of Aveiro, CIRA – Aveiro Intermunicipal Committee, the University of Aveiro (UA) and AIDA-CCI – Commercial and Industrial Chamber of Aveiro, and they are all represented in Aveiro’27 Strategic Council and Executive Committee. Civil society is also represented through our Advisory Board, holding 10 different groups with key stakeholders, and a wide variety of local and regional organizations connected to culture, healthcare, environment, education, academia, industry. They were all invited to build a common vision for Aveiro 2027 by participating in workshops, meetings, forums, and public presentations.

The initiative #LetsGoTogether (#VamosJuntos) allowed us to put in place a participation project for local citizens and communities, especially youth and marginalized groups. It actually started new dialogues between the city actors and developed a collective process of reflection, exchange, and collaboration that is mirrored in our program. We have also opened a call for ideas and projects and more than 100 were submitted by local, national, and international citizens and organizations.

With our communication channels and campaigns so far, we gave voice to the local communities and encouraged citizens to actively participate in the bidding process, enlightening their ideas, motivations, reflections, and work. Our digital channels invited people to contribute with ideas, apply for calls, volunteer, or become digital activists by helping to spread Aveiro 27’s word within their (social) networks. Not only we have asked locals to meet us but we have also met them on the ferryboat, at local festivals and events, and by keeping an active presence in public spaces (through advertising campaigns), in their homes (with our newsletter “Jornal do Amanhã” (meaning Journal of Tomorrow) and on the radio, TV and other media channels. Our main quest is to keep bringing people on board, #OnePersonAtATime.

What objectives do you intend to achieve?

The European Capital of Culture will provide us with an exceptional living laboratory to test and redevelop the new elements which we believe are fundamental for the contemporary and future European cities and regions: Sustainability, Democracy, Cohesion, and Resilience. Culture and Creativity will be the key to ensuring a positive change, as well as a bottom-up and consistent approach to long-term development beyond 2027. Crucially, Aveiro 2027 will celebrate shared European and Transatlantic culture, heritage and diversity, and influence in the urban, economic, and social developments of Aveiro, as well as its international profile.

We aim to empower a creative sense of imagination in the way Aveiro works, testing and improving new ways to express ideas, forging new alliances between culture and other sectors and to reach out the public in a way that attracts the many and not the few. This will boost the way how we connect to people, how it will influence the way we shape and carry out the cultural and artistic programme 2027and promote a positive change in creative ways.

More information here

Serafino Paternoster

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

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