The debate on the European Capital of Culture (ECoC) has recently revamped in Italy. This policy annually awards the title of Capital to one or more competing cities in Europe so to deliver multiple cultural initiatives during one year of celebrations. It has been a fertile ground for discussion between experts and policy makers of different fields of expertise, but there has been somehow limited debate under the urban planning perspective. The programme seems extremely interesting for urban research: it has invested some 50 cities throughout Europe during the last 30 years and it is expected to go on for at least another 20 years. In this sense, it is possible to conduct longitudinal investigations regarding the evolution of the ‘European city’ along the program as well as the roles of and expectations towards cultural policy in general and in relationship to urban planning in particular. Besides providing the evidence for reflecting and learning about the European cities involved, this program allows one to see the local implications of the circulation of the same program across Europe, the related economic and political interests and urban effects. Given this great richness, this special issue of Urbanistica can only broach few questions out, for further research and debate to systematically deepen them. The most pressing issues are, in our opinion, two. The first relates to the ideas of ‘European city’ that are involved with the ECoC framework and implementation experiences. While recognizing the wide variety of results, through the program ECoC one can potentially read how the ‘contemporary European city’ was imagined and planned by local and European policymakers the past thirty years. The second potential contribution refers to the long term effects and urban products of the ECoC program (cultural facilities and places, …). These two issues are deeply intertwined and relevant for our understanding of the European cities and the papers face them from different angles. The paper by Davide Ponzini and Zachary Jones introduces basic references and figures regarding the ECoC and it proposes an overview of several examples for exploring relevant meanings of ‘European city’ in the ECoC, among which: the city as a mere stage for mega-events, the city as a system to be improved and regenerated by cultural policy, as the place for cultural diversity to flourish and finally as the center of broader regional systems. The planning for the city to transform and to accommodate the cultural mega-event and tourism, the generation of new cultural facilities and places compose the second core issue, which is addressed thanks to a broad and long-term set of examples. The paper concludes by highlighting some of the most pressing research and practice challenges of planning mega-events in European cities, looking beyond ECoC. The second paper by Olivier Sykes and Jonathan Brown takes into consideration two typical positions with reference to culture-led regeneration: 'boosterism' and 'critic', calling for more contextualised and realistic understanding of the values and shortcomings of the ECoC. Thirdly, Sampo Ruoppila analyzes the case of Turku 2011, showing the ECoC’s urban effects under three interconnected perspectives: cultural policy-making and governance, population accessing cultural events and activities and the processes of place-making related to the ECoC experience. A critical overview of the six shortlisted projects for the 2019 ECoC in Italy is provided by Massimiliano Nuccio. This set of projects, in his view, shows a clear political economy of cultural mega-events, benefitting ‘pro-growth’ coalitions and rent-seeking actors mostly at the expenses of taxpayers. Zachary Jones’ interview with Franco Bianchini draws on the case of the winning candidacy of Matera 2019 more general considerations regarding ECoC and the meanings the ‘European city’ has in its planning and implementation. The contribution of the study of the ECoC under an urban planning perspective can enrich the debate among urban and cultural policy experts, economists and others. The aspiration of this issue in Urbanistica is also to highlight the evidence and rationales for the programming of other mega-events such as the Olympics, Expo, World Cup, which often have problems in relating to existing places and functions and in generating new parts of cities which are sustainable after the conclusion of the event. The unintended urban and social consequences of regeneration of Genoa in the 2000s, Turin’s oversized regional infrastructures for the 2006 Winter Olympics are eloquent evidences. Today the challenges for our country are multiple, not only the ones of Matera 2019, but of the legacy of Expo 2015 in Milan and eventually the 2024 candidacy of Rome for the Olympics. The way planners and cultural policy-makers envision and transform the ‘European city’ matters and this should be critically discussed in such important occasions.
|Titolo:||Meanings, Urban Products and Urban Forms in the European Capital of Culture Programme|
|Data di pubblicazione:||2016|
|Appare nelle tipologie:||01.1 Articolo in Rivista|