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Belgium 2030, the first candidate cities online

Brussels, Atomium Brussels, Atomium

Cities that want to apply to become European Capital of Culture, usually, but not always,  decide this ten years earlier. For example, Matera decided to apply in 2010 to be European Capital of Culture in 2019. Six years before the title-year the selected host Member States publish a call for applications, usually through their Ministry for Culture. Cities interested in participating in the competition must submit a proposal for consideration.

The submitted applications are reviewed against a set of established criteria during a pre-selection phase by a panel of independent experts in the field of culture. The panel agrees on a short-list of cities, which are then asked to submit more detailed applications.The panel then reconvenes to assess the final applications and recommends one city per host country for the title. The recommended city will then be formally designated as European Capital of Culture.

For Belgium and Cyprus, which will express the European capital of culture in 2030, the call should be launched by their respective governments in 2024. But some cities have already been moving for some time to be ready for the appointment.

EcocNews has tried to understand which cities in Belgium have already expressed their willingness to participate in the competition at the moment.

Antwerp was nominated european city of culture in 1993. Brussels has already been designated European Capital of Culture in 2000 alongside Avignon (France), Bergen (Norway), Bologna (Italy), Helsinki (Finland), Krakow (Poland), Prague (Czech Republic), Reykjavik (Iceland), and Santiago de Compostela (Spain). In 2000, the European Capital of Culture was exceptionally celebrated in nine cities. Bruges was nominated in 2002 along with Salamanca (Spain) and Mons in 2015 together with Plzen (Czech Republic).

At the moment it seems that five cities in Belgium are planning to apply for European culture capital for 2030: Brussels, Ghent, Kortrijk, Liege and Leuven. In 2017 Charleroi also launched his candidacy (here), but it does not seem that any progress has been made in recent years.

Three cities, among the five that are currently candidates,  have already set the organizational machine in motion: Brussels, Ghent, Kortrijk. While Leuven seems more committed, at the moment, to the issue of climate change.

In fact, Leuven is one of the 100 cities selected by the European Commission out of 400 cities for the mission "100 smart and climate neutral cities by 2030". With this mission, Europe supports selected cities with expertise and (financial) resources on their trajectory towards climate neutrality by 2030. Leuven has been selected for Belgium along with Brussels, Antwerp and La Louvière. But it is possible that Leuven makes this mission coincide with that of the European capital of culture (Other information here).

Liège had already tried to apply to become European Capital of Culture in 2015. A lot of expectations were created around that candidacy from the community and from cultural and creative associations. Then, however, while the car had already started, someone extinguished all desire, igniting a lot of controversy. At that time there was talk of a solution determined by a political compromise in favour of Mons, which in effect became the European capital of culture in 2015. Today it seems to try again even if there are still no concrete signals on the network. (Read here

The cities of Brussels, Ghent, Kortrijk appear much further ahead.

Brussels has opened a website and social channels regarding the candidacy project.

“Becoming the European Capital of Culture in 2030 and remaining so: with as many Brussels residents as possible, we want to continue on this path over the next decade. But our dream goes further: we want to make this vision a reality, beyond the institutional and cultural fragmentation of our city. We hope to transform Brussels even deeper with artists, thinkers and culture as the driving force, but not only that. If we turn artistic experimentation, super cultural diversity and rich multilingualism into assets shared by young and old alike, Brussels will be better able to meet tomorrow’s great urban and global challenges. This is how we want to become a capital for all Europeans: a laboratory for intercultural and multilingual coexistence, but also for the ecological, democratic, social and decolonial revolutions that await us”.

In the beginning, we work with a small operational team: assignment holders Hadja Lahbib and Jan Goossens and two employees, Maya Galle and Laura Loute.

Danny Opdebeeck, Francoise Tulkens, Eric Corijn and Asma Mettioui form our board of directors". Other information here.

Ghent is also moving forward. An information site is online and a second forum with the community will be held on May 31st to build the candidacy project.

“Our city has many resources up its sleeve to become the European Capital of Culture in 2030! Meanwhile, the Gent 2030 and "30 of 2030" process team are working hard to develop a concept for our application. Do you want to know firsthand the direction of the concept of our application? Make a note of May 31 in your diary! Then we would like to welcome you that evening in the UFO auditorium in Ghent! You can register for this event soon ”.https://cultuur.stad.gent/nl

The project appears to be followed by Idea Consult which is building a real application platform (read here).

“The City of Ghent is going all out for the title of European Cultural Capital in 2030. It is about more than the title. The city also wants to develop a strong project through culture that tackles the challenges and seizes the opportunities for the city. The opportunities and challenges were mapped out via a broad exploratory survey that IDEA Consult carried out this spring among more than 400 key figures. The final report of this survey is the working material for the next phase, in which an overarching concept is developed for the candidacy. This second phase starts now and runs until June 2022. Afterwards, in a third phase, a first 'bid book' will be prepared, which will be submitted in 2024.

For Ghent 2030, a separate structure will be set up later on in the form of an 'externally autonomous agency' (or EVA vzw) with extensive structural involvement of stakeholders from the public, profit and non-profit sectors in both the General Assembly and the Board of Directors.  This structure secures, manages and guards the business, organisational and content-related framework within which Ghent 2030 must take shape, but gives the project team all the room it needs to take concrete form.

The formal founding of this EVA association is planned for May or June. Shortly afterwards, a Ghent 2030 team will be set up in phases to coordinate and concretise the further preparation of the Ghent 2030 candidacy in direct consultation and cooperation with as many actors and sectors as possible.

Kortrijk is also proceeding with the construction of a participatory application project with the community and is already online with a platform.

“DURF is an experimental model of space and cooperation in the Kortrijk region where as many people as possible work together on creative solutions to today's challenges. An ecosystem of daredevils and operators who work from trust and freedom, from ownership and innovation, from respect and involvement, from audacity and fun.

With FARE and DARE: concrete projects, many small ones, but also larger joint projects (such as Prototype23, CH2030) together form an accelerator towards the future that we dare to dream of. We therefore see the Capital of Culture as a driving force towards the future. Concrete experiments because we believe that by doing you learn more. Failure and time are essential parts of this adventure ”.

Other information here.








Serafino Paternoster

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

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