The chairperson of the European Capitals of Culture Expert panel announced on 10 May 2022 that the city of Liepāja has been recommended for the European Capital of Culture 2027 title in Latvia.
A panel of independent experts assessing applications from 3 short-listed Latvian cities recommended Liepāja following a two-day meeting.
Mariya Gabriel, European Commissioner for Innovation, Research, Culture, Education and Youth, said
After Riga in 2014, Liepāja will be the second city in Latvia to host the European Capital of Culture title in 2027. Hosting a European Capital of Culture is a unique opportunity for a city and its surrounding area to bring culture right to the heart of their communities and for their citizens to discover the rich diversity of cultural expressions existing in the European Union and beyond.
In the context of the Russian war of aggression against Ukraine, European Capitals of Culture become all the more relevant. They are an illustration of the EU’s willingness to create a union between peoples defending the values we cherish, i.e. peace, solidarity, freedom of speech or respect for the others.
I hope that Liepāja will take reap all the long-term cultural, economic and social benefits that the European Capital of Culture can bring.
The selection process for the Latvian city in 2027
In accordance with the Decision of the European Parliament and of the Council that governs the European Capitals of Culture action, there will be two European Capitals of Culture in 2027: one in Latvia and one in Portugal.
Regarding the competition in Latvia, the relevant Latvian authorities invited applications from interested cities in August 2020.
Nine cities submitted applications by the deadline of 4 June 2021: Cēsis, Daugavpils, Jelgava, Jēkabpils, Jūrmala, Kuldīga, Liepāja, Ogre and Valmiera.
The pre-selection meeting took place on 5-8 July 2021 and four cities were short-listed: Daugavpils, Jūrmala, Liepāja and Valmiera. They were given until 4 April 2022 to complete their applications. Between the two rounds of the competition, Jūrmala decided to withdraw its candidature.
The final selection meeting takes place on 9-10 May 2022.
A panel of independent experts examine the applications. 2 of the experts are appointed by the relevant national authorities and the remainder by EU institutions and bodies (European Parliament, Council, Commission and Committee of the Regions).
How cities become European Capitals of Culture
According to the current scheme for designating the European Capitals of Culture, the selection has 2 rounds
- a pre-selection round (following which a shortlist of candidate cities is drawn up)
- a final selection round approximately nine months later (one city is recommended for the title)
The selected cities are then officially designated by the Member State concerned.
The selection criteria state that cities should prepare a cultural programme with a strong European dimension, which fosters the participation of the city's stakeholders as well as its various neighbourhoods and attracts visitors from the whole country and Europe.
The programme must have a lasting impact and contribute to the long-term development of the city. The cities must also show that they have the support from the relevant public local authorities and the capacity to deliver the project.
The next European Capitals of Culture
Each year, two to three cities hold the title of European Capital of Culture. Alongside Liepāja, a city in Portugal (to be selected in December) will also hold the title in 2027.
The three European Capitals of Culture 2022 are Kaunas (Lithuania), Esch-sur-Alzette (Luxembourg) and Novi Sad (Serbia).
Other upcoming European Capitals of Culture are
- Veszprém (Hungary), Elefsina (Greece) and Timisoara (Romania) in 2023
- Tartu (Estonia), Bad Ischl (Austria) and Bodø (Norway) in 2024
- Chemnitz (Germany) and Nova Gorica (Slovenia) in 2025
- Oulu (Finland) and Trenčín (Slovakia) in 2026
Started in 1985, European Capitals of Culture have developed into one of the most ambitious cultural projects in Europe and one of the EU's most appreciated activities.
The goals of this initiative are more relevant than ever
- to provide Europeans with opportunities to learn more about each other's cultures
- to enjoy their shared history and values
- to experience the feeling of belonging to the same European community
- to develop European cultural connections and partnerships
- to underline the role of culture in the development of cities.