Wednesday

28th Jun 2017

Focus

Barroso launches Portuguese Capital of Culture against backdrop of budget cuts

  • Guimaraes and Slovenian city Maribor are sharing the Capital of Culture title in 2012 (Photo: Valentina Pop)

Portuguese city Guimaraes launched the start of its year as European Capital of Culture (ECOC) on Saturday (21 January) against a backdrop of budget cuts which threaten to derail the success of the event.

The city celebrated its event with a sparkling lights and art display hosted by European Commission President Jose Barroso. Speaking at the launch, Barroso said that "without culture, Europe has no direction".

Dear EUobserver reader

Subscribe now for unrestricted access to EUobserver.

Sign up for 30 days' free trial, no obligation. Full subscription only 15 € / month or 150 € / year.

  1. Unlimited access on desktop and mobile
  2. All premium articles, analysis, commentary and investigations
  3. EUobserver archives

EUobserver is the only independent news media covering EU affairs in Brussels and all 28 member states.

♡ We value your support.

If you already have an account click here to login.

Both Guimaraes and Slovenian city Maribor, with whom it is sharing the Capital of Culture title, have had to cope with dramatically reduced budgets owing to government spending cuts.

Guimaraes, which becomes the third Portguese city to have the Capital of Culture title, following Lisbon and Porto, has seen its culture budget cut by €20 million owing to national austerity measures following Portugal's €80 billion bail-out from the EU/International Monetary Fund. The city's budget for the year is €111 million, of which €25 million has been allocated for cultural programmes. Maribor has also seen its budget gradually cut from €71 million to €30 million.

Although the title of European Capital of Culture is hotly contested as cities compete for the publicity and additional structural funds which have traditionally been used for regeneration, both countries will be anxious to avoid the same fate as Vilnius and Tallinn.

The Baltic capitals, who were Capitals of Culture in 2009 and 2011 respectively, suffered from large budget cutbacks leading to the cancellation of nearly 50 percent of the scheduled events and long delays for the payment of artists.

As the two cities wrestle with budget cuts, the spotlight remains on the commission's Creative Europe project, which would increase direct funding for the Capitals of Culture programme from the EU budget from €400 million to €490 million between 2014 and 2020.

The commission's proposal - which also intends to bring all EU culture headings, including the Capitals of Culture, under a single heading worth €1.8 billion - is currently awaiting approval from national governments and MEPs.

In its communication in November, the commission emphasised the financial success of the ECOC programme noting that host cities had been able to raise an "eight-fold leverage effect on generated revenue, triggering between €15 million and €100 million euros in extra investment."

Liverpool's year as European capital of culture in 2010 has been cited by commission officials as a model for other countries to follow, with research for Liverpool University indicating that the programme brought in an estimated €9.6 million in extra revenue for the city.

The cities to hold the title have been selected up to 2015, with the commission currently in the selection process for 2016-2018. In 2013, France's Marseille and Slovakian city Kosice will take the title.

EU countries ponder massive increase in arts spending

The European Commission's plan to launch the world's largest ever cultural funding programme is to be tested in coming weeks as EU states ponder if they want arts spending to go up 37 percent.

Pressure mounts on EU cloud deal as deadline looms

The European Commission is under pressure to keep to its self-imposed September deadline to publish an EU cloud computing strategy, as new evidence revealed widespread public confusion about it.

Slovenia and Croatia reignite border dispute

Croatia said it would not apply a ruling to be delivered by the international arbitration court on Thursday. Slovenia appeals to the EU to pressure its neighbour.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. EU2017EEGet the Latest News from the 2017 Estonian EU Council Presidency @EU2017EE
  2. International Partnership for Human RightsEU-Kyrgyzstan Human Rights Talks Should Insist on Ending Reprisals Against Critical Voices
  3. European Free AllianceEFA Is Looking for a New Intern
  4. Malta EU 2017Conservation of Atlantic Tunas: International Measures Become EU Law
  5. European Healthy Lifestyle AllianceCan Statin Therapy Interfere With a Physically Active Lifestyle?
  6. EPSUOn Public Services Day, Stop Austerity! Workers Need a Pay Rise!
  7. EGBAOnline Gambling: The EU Court Rejects Closed Licensing Regimes In Member States
  8. World VisionFaces of Today, Leaders of Tomorrow: Join the Debate on Violence Against Girls - 29 June
  9. ECR GroupThe EU Must Better Protect Industry from Unfair Competition
  10. Malta EU 2017Better Protection for Workers From Cancer-Causing Substances
  11. EPSUAfter 9 Years of Austerity Europe's Public Sector Workers Deserve a Pay Rise!
  12. UNICEFEU Trust Fund Contribution to UNICEF's Syria Crisis Response Reaches Nearly €200 Million