Great news for Galway, Limerick and the Three Sisters of Waterford, Wexford and Kilkenny, as each city has been shortlisted to proceed to the next selection stage for European Capital of Culture 2020. Unfortunately, Ireland’s only other entrant, Dublin, did not make the shortlist and has been eliminated from the runnings.
The European Capital of Culture is an initiative that has been running since 1985. Previously, Dublin has held the title in 1991 and Cork in 2005. Two cities in Europe hold the title each year. In 2020 there will be one winning city from Ireland and one from Croatia. The prize for winning is €1.5 million.
The announcement of the shortlist was made on Friday 20 November in Dublin Castle by Steve Green from the competition’s selection and monitoring panel. He emphasised that all four entrants did a wonderful job.
“Our decision is not based on what the city is now, it’s based on the programme that was presented to us and what is intended to be carried out, that’s the key element of it,” he said.
Labour councillor Rebecca Moynihan, chair of Dublin City Council’s arts committee, acknowledged that the panel made its choices based on the bid book submitted as part of Dublin’s application. But she also felts there was another factor involved. “Dublin already had a capital of culture,” she said. “I think that went against us.”
The three shortlised cities will receive reports from the panel and will have up until mid-2016 to create the final draft of their applications. The expert panel will then convene again to make their final decision, which is expected to be announced in July.
As for Dublin, the application process wasn’t an entire waste of time. Dublin City Council arts officer, Ray Yeates, said, “we got an awful lot out of doing it; we have a whole new vision for culture now in the city that we developed throughout the bid.”
He also expressed the feelings of deep disappointment at having been eliminated. “It’s hard because we were so keyed up; it was kind of like x-factor waiting for the results, having said that, we wish all of the other cities well and would love to work with them in the future.”
The Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, Healther Humphreys, gave her congratulations to Galway, Limerick and The Three Sisters. She said that Capital of Culture Initiative presented a unique and important opportunity to showcase a city, bringing with it an unprecedented focus at local, national and international level. “It will allow the winning city, and Ireland as a whole, to put our best cultural foot forward,” she said.
Though the three successful entrants have celebrated their victory for winning the shortlist, they will once again be knuckling down to to the work at hand and continuing in their efforts to build the best programme possible for next years final judgment.
In Croatia, the shortlisted cities, picked form nine entrants, are Dubrovnik, Osijek, Pula and Rijeka.
This year’s Hosts of the title of European Capital of Culture are Wroclaw, in Poland, and San Sebastian in Spain.