The announcement that Galway was to be awarded the designation of European Capital of Culture for 2020 (together with Rijeka in Croatia) was greeted with excitement and enthusiasm in the city – and especially in its university, National University of Ireland, Galway.
The University Network of European Capitals of Culture (UNeECC) has supplied the opportunity to reflect upon the relationship between Capitals of Culture and universities – and it has also deepened that relationship, providing a forum to consider how Capitals of Culture can transform cities and the people living in them. In place of the annual University Network of European Capitals of Culture conference, we invited interdisciplinary contributions to an online special issue that would include written and audio-visual contributions from a variety of fields. This online special issue is an opportunity for us to learn more about how the Capitals of Culture in Ireland and Croatia have adapted their programmes and to understand better the pan-European responses to the impact of the pandemic on artists, cultural workers, local communities, and universities. Our aim is to define and examine how the global pandemic effected European cities, culture, and education. What future for our cities and our lives can we collectively envisage?
Introduction to the University Network of Capitals of Culture by Flora Carrijn, UNeECC Director.
Noel Buttigieg and Dane Munro: Covid-19 and Empty Meeting Grounds.
What happens when the ‘magic’ attached to an annual public festival is recast in social distancing, medical masks replace carnival face coverings and small gatherings are a sign of success? Buttigieg and Munro interviewed locals in Malta about how traditions celebrated in ancient architectures of city space accommodated the challenge of 2020.
Pilar Alderete Diez: Language Learning as a Creative Process: New identities in European Spaces.
What is it like to live in multiple places both physically and in your imagination? What is it like to learn a new language and to find the words to tell the stories of the self and the city that you have arrived into and left behind? Proyecto EstudiantELE is an award winning Galway-based project that gives individual lived voices to these deeply personal experiences. Here Alderete Diez lets us listen into fourteen new worlds forming.
Adriana Galvani: Homage to Ezio Bosso from Bologna, City of Music and European Capital of Culture.
Looking back to Bologna’s Capital of Culture celebrations in 2000 and buildng from Émile Durkheim’s works, Galvini examines the value of the ECOC as an opportunity to celebrate major aspects of cultural arts practice and European architecture as central to the creation of a sustainable tourism connective with an enhancement of shared community identity, improved quality of life and community recognition.
Christian Lamour & Niklas Schulz: How cultural Third Places affect urban development in the European Capital of Culture region of Esch2022.
What happens when the development of a ‘cultural third place’ at a border crossing reveals multi-lingual contrasting visions of urban regeneration through cultural development for local authorities and regional strategic planning? The project that is underway for ECoC 2022 Esch/Alzette in Luxembourg is examined through a myriad of interviews, conversations and on the ground research contextualised by the complexity of a Capital of Culture located in a cross-border urban region which is normally characterized by the daily commuting of 200,000 Belgian, French and German residents who head mainly towards the agglomeration of Luxembourg-City, which is located 20 kilometres away from Esch/Alzette.
Anna Puhr: Leuven as potential European Capital of Culture 2030: Strategies to include needs and changing cultural preferences of international residents over time.
In the lead up to Leuven application as European Capital of Culture for the year 2030, Puhr reflects on a research project key to the bid that aimed to understand the cultural preferences of the international communities residing in Leuven. The case study of the city of Groningen was a foundation for local community interviews, considered as it is an exemplary case of sustainable minority integration of international communities in urban culture and future planning.
Antonella Santoro: Matera beyond the euphoria of 2019: economic and social scenarios of city’s legacy and the Covid-19 impact.
Seasonalized tourist flows, cultural tourism targets, new technologies and internationalisation: the 2018 Capital of Culture in Matera for its economic tourism is here viewed as needing a longer term plan to encompass the local works of entrepreneurial intergenerational projects and the creation of new spaces as “an incubator for cultural and creative enterprises”.
Karsten Xuereb: The impact of COVID-19 on the cultural sector in Malta.
The author asks local questions about the interdependencies of culture and the arts to the social fabric of a societies health care, social welfare, housing, the environment and education. Taking the longer view of the political and social fall-out of Covid, how can the intricacies of cultural eco-systems be supported outside of the basic economics of performance determined by tourism?
Philosophical discussions about Herbert Marcuse, Marina Garcés, Zygmunt Bauman and Italian sociologist Carlo Bordoni are embedded here within international and pan-European anxieties about political economics and the ethical sustainability of cultural arts practices and the creative industries.
Nataša Urošević & Luka Krivošić (Pula Croatia): Reimagining Cultural Capital: in search of a virtual European Dimension.
Taking Rijeka as a case study and drawing on interviews conducted with ECOC project managers, Nataša Urošević & Luka Krivošić (Pula Croatia) argue in Reimagining Cultural Capital: in search of a virtual European dimension that existing models of European Capitals of Culture as mass year-long cultural festivals are economically unsustainable especially for those cities operating within crisis conditions on the European periphery, where local communities have very specific social and economic problems. The touristic fluidity that forms a key economic dimension of ECOCs must be re-envisaged to take account of the increasingly “immobile and jobless participants, closed beyond national borders, in search of a virtual European dimension.”
Curating Galway: Student Submissions
- Laura Brincat — I Hate This Digital World | Reflections on the Project
- Hugh Murphy — In Our Image
- Emiy Noe — Just a Jump
- Ananya Rajoo — A Digital Viewing of 'The Deepest Shade of Green'.
- Merve Yimaz — Galway - A city that brings joy.
Conversations with the special issue editors, Patrick Lonergan & Catherine Morris about European Culture, Politics & Education
Special Issue Launch Webinar
Hosted by Moore Institute Director Dan Carey, this webinar explores the topic of Capitals of Culture: how can universities engage in practice-based arts research and teaching? What are the challenges for Capitals of Culture amidst a global pandemic? Is what we want of cities changed forever? What role do culture and the arts play in the development of local, pan-European, and international networks of solidarity?
- Flora Carrijn, Provost of KU Leuven, who heads the Board of the University Network for European Capitals of Culture
- Patrick Lonergan & Catherine Morris, co-editors of the University Network of European Capitals of Culture Spring 2021 special issue: European Capitals of Culture: The Art of Reimagining
- Sean Ryder, Head of the School for English and the Creative Arts, NUI Galway
- Eithne Verling, Director of the Museum of Galway
- Ananya Rajoo is an artist from Kerala, India, currently based in Galway, Ireland producing projects with a focus on cultural heritage. She is currently pursuing an MA in Creative Arts: Producing and Curation from NUI Galway.
- Karsten Xuereb, who led preparations for the European Capital of Culture in Malta (2011-2017)
Chair: Daniel Carey, Moore Institute, NUI Galway