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Esch2022: The European Capital of Culture draws a balance

By Press release Mercoledì, 24 Maggio 2023
Esch 2022, The night of the culture Esch 2022, The night of the culture

A total of 512,000 visitors, mainly from Luxembourg (60%) and France (27%), attended the 1,351 events and the corresponding 3,145 cultural activities that took place as part of the European Capital of Culture project in the years leading up to and during the title year itself, as well as in its closing phase at the beginning of 2023.

The wide-ranging, multifaceted cultural and music festivals for a broad audience, for which Esch2022 was initially conceived in cooperation with thousands of partners, had a particularly strong response in terms of visitor numbers. Each of the approximately 160 project partners that emerged from the public call for projects in 2019 had numerous partners of their own – especially the Esch2022 municipalities, public cultural institutions as well as associations or foundations. In total, 1,789 artists were an active part of the programme, of which more than 600 have a residence in Luxembourg and more than 400 have a residence in France.*

Following the official handover of the title of European Capital of Culture in Athens in January 2023 to the current holders in Europe and the subsequent handover from the “Capitale européenne de la culture 2022 asbl” to the Luxembourg and French municipalities that jointly bore the title of European Capital of Culture 2022, the final balance of Esch2022 was now presented at the Artiston Theatre in Esch-Alzette. Complementing the preliminary balance sheet with initial figures and information on the project’s legacy, as well as the presentation of the results of three studies in cooperation with Ilres, which were presented at the end of February, the presentation now included the results of the reports of the approximately 160 project partners, their experiences and assessments, as well as comprehensive statistics, e.g. on visitors. The presentation included speeches by the Minister for Culture, Sam Tanson, and the President of Esch2022, Georges Mischo, as well as Jacques Maquet, Quality and Impact Research Coordinator Esch2022.

The quantitative and qualitative results presented are the fruit of the work that has been carried out since 2018. They were determined on the following basis :

  • Statistics from the database produced in collaboration with Philippe Robin, a consultant in statistical engineering, which includes all statistics on cultural activities on the Esch2022 territory.
  • Data from the project management platform developed by the Cultural Programme Department of Esch2022 and managed by Mélanie de Jamblinne de Meux.
  • Results of a vast survey carried out among all Esch2022 project leaders, developed by Esch2022 and The Impact Lab
  • Statistics from various studies carried out by Ilres, Statec and Luxembourg for Tourism (LFT)

The presentation is attached to this news including graphs and evaluations and covers the following topics:

Esch2022 and its cultural programme

Balance and analysis of the components of the cultural programme
Visitor numbers and participation in the Esch2022 cultural programme

Esch2022 statistics and results

Results of the survey among project partners
The project partner’s legacy

Esch2022 and its other facets

Tourism and sustainable development
Press and media

Esch2022 and its legacy

in relation to cultural institutions and territorial development
in relation to the project partners’ activities, which will be carried on
Culture brought closer to residents and visitors

The overarching goal of this sustainable project was to strengthen inter-municipal and cross-border cooperation in the south of Luxembourg as well as in the east of France in the long term. New networks and concepts helped to remix the local culture – even on an international level and beyond the borders of the region. Culture was brought closer to the people in the Minett region, both thematically and geographically, through well-known as well as newly created locations or spaces that were reclaimed for cultural purposes. Each municipality has actively contributed to Esch2022, not only as a project partner, but also as a strong partner for other project partners. The first elements of the Esch2022 legacy were already published in a factsheet at the end of January. This last press conference complements this collection of facts (see charts 58 - 62 in the presentation, amongst others) and gives a deeper insight into how Esch2022 has created an added value for the project partners – well beyond the budget as well as beyond the year 2022.

The tourism sector has also allegedly benefited from Esch2022, which is not only reflected in the impressive figures, especially in post-Covid times, such as the increase in arrivals of tourists (+23%) and overnight stays (38%) in 2022 compared to 2019 (preliminary data from Luxembourg for Tourism (LFT)). In addition, inter-municipal projects along the Minett Trail, the augmented reality app discovARminett, the virtual reality tour Timetravel Belval, and products such as the Minett Cycle, with three cycling routes, offer added value to residents and visitors alike as they discover the region.

Challenges and benefits

The health crisis not only had a significant impact on the preparation and cultural practices of Esch2022 by all stakeholders in the different sectors; the crisis had a particular impact on public participation throughout the entire project. Despite these challenges, the project partners’ balance sheet is positive: when asked about the benefits of Esch2022, the most frequently mentioned aspects are the cooperation at local or international level, the organisational and professional development, and the increased visibility of their project. Moreover, they claim to have acquired a wide range of personal competences and professional skills, especially through the opportunity to work on a larger scale. More than 70% of the projects had a cross-border or international dimension, and 90% involved artists "from other countries". Further results can be found in the appendix.

*estimated data in the reports of the project partners (see chart 33 in the presentation).