On the 25th October 2019, the Interreg Europe project ECoC-SME held its first Open Seminar in Matera, Italy. It was titled “European Capitals of Culture as drivers for local development” and it was organised in cooperation with Materahub, Fondazione Fitzcarraldo, the Matera 2019 Foundation and the TraCEs – Cultour Is Capital project (funded by the European Commission under the COSME programme).

Over 60 people participated in this event from all over Europe, including representatives of former, current and future European Capitals of Culture, and experts, businesses, policy makers and practitioners who work in the fields of cultural and creative industries, regional and community development and related research.

During the morning session, ten speakers discussed various aspects and some concrete cases that indicate the importance and the potential of culture and CCI in generating – often new avenues for – the social and economic development in places and regions that have for long faced some sorts of structural and/or geographical disadvantages. Paolo Montemurro from MateraHub, member of the ECoC-SME partnership as well as Project Manager in the Cultour Is Capital project, presented these two projects indicating possibilities for synergies. Berndt Fesel, representing the European Creative Business Network, introduced Ruhr 2010, which was actually the first ECoC in the history of the programme that placed Creative Industries in its focus.

Michaela Halasz from Creative Industries Kosice talked about the transformative power of the ECoC title in case of the Kosice 2013 project: not only transforming spaces and triggering new economic activities but also making people feel more positive about their city and their future. Victor Yankov presented Plovdiv 2019 and its legacy. Rosella Tarantino and Emmanuele Curti from the Matera 2019 Foundation put the event’s host city and its project in the spotlight. Rosella discussed the emerging legacy of the ECoC project and underlined the importance of the involvement of, and co-creation by, local organisations, communities, citizens to the sustenance of this legacy. Emmanuele talked about cultural heritage and cultural tourism and introduced the notion of “temporary citizens” and its notable implications to the place and its society when actually implemented in Matera 2019. Emma Taveri, CEO of Destination Makers, which is partner in the Cultour Is Capital project called attention to the potentials of ECoC to promote transformative tourism, which in turn, has great potentials in shaping and stimulating both the people and the destinations involved in many beneficial ways.

Taking a broader look at the European Capitals of Culture programme, Franco Bianchini (University of Hull) analysed the possible ways and the difficulties of measuring and evaluating its multifaceted impacts on the cities and regions involved, and Aiva Rozenberga, program manager of Riga 2014 and member of the international jury of the programme’s selection panel, explained the complexities of a successful ECoC candidacy. Finally, Francesca Imperiale, representing ENCATC, the European network of cultural management and policy, emphasized the need for interregional exchanges between ECoCs, introduced a dedicated capacity-building programme in the make.

In the afternoon, the seminar continued with thematic group discussions about three topics: transformative tourism, opportunities for CCIs, and how positive and sustainable legacies of the European Capital of Culture can be ensured. Results of these parallel workshops were shown and discussed in the closure of the event.

Introduction of and presentations by the speakers, outputs of the three thematic tables and some graphic notes on both sessions produced by Vito Battista are downloadable at https://www.interregeurope.eu/ecoc-sme/library/#. Also, about this event can be browsed in a folder found under the same address (or see the Library section of this website).