The European Commission has hired consulting firms Ecorys and CSES to undertake an ex post evaluation of the European Capitals of Culture. In the coming months, the consultants will review how Riga and Umeå have managed their year-long cultural programme and quantify its socio-economic impact.
The European Capital of Culture (ECoC) was launched in 1985 by the European Commission, with the objective of promoting European culture. Athens was the first title-holder city in 1985, followed by Florence and Amsterdam, and since then more than 40 cities have been designated, including the UK-cities Glasgow (1990) and Liverpool (2008). As part of the programme, each designated city develops a one-year cultural programme and organises a series of cultural events with a strong European dimension.
To support cities with the development and execution of their cultural programme, they receive roughly €1.5 million of funding from the European Union (EU). Against the backdrop of this investment, the EU annually evaluates the ECoC initiative, to understand the impact of a city’s approach on economy and society, but also to gain insight in focus areas for future designations. To review the cultural programme’s of Riga (Latvia) and Umeå (Sweden) – the two European Capital of Culture for 2014 – the EC* has hired Ecorys, an international management consultancy, and the Centre for Strategy and Evaluation Services (CSES)**, a UK based research firm specialised in economic policy.
The consultants will in the coming months evaluate three main factors. Firstly, they will review the impact on each city’s social and economic development, as well as the benefits to the cultural and creative sector. Secondly, Ecorys will assess the specific local approach to implementing ECoC: how was the programme rolled-out during the year? Lastly, the advisors will, based on the findings of both cities and past experiences, identify best practices, to ensure that future cities can benefit from the lessons learnt along the way. The evaluation, which will be made publicly available by the EC in the summer of 2015, will be conducted through a mixture of city visits, interviews and data collection.
Ecorys and European Capital of Culture
For Ecorys, the project review is common ground. Since 2007, the EC has brought in its expertise to review the performance of European Capitals of Culture.
* The project has been commissioned by the ‘Directorate-General for Education and Culture’.
** The Centre for Strategy & Evaluation Services (CSES) was established in 1999 by former consultants of Ernst & Young's Economics Group. CSES consists of a team of 14 advisors and is based in Otford, Kent.