The Danish city of Aarhus has been awarded the title of European Capital of Culture 2017. Looking through the application which the city submitted to the EU commission there are several good examples of how culture is seen as instrumental to other agendas. The theme of the Aarhus bid is Rethink – to reconsider how we do things at an institutional level across our European cities.
In the introduction to the application they write: “Arts, culture, and the creative sector can be part of the solution”.
Furthermore they write: ”We see Aarhus 2017 as laboratory for next practice, a European laboratory where arts and culture are key to addressing many issues. We commit our city and region to this agenda as a manifestation of how arts, culture, and the creative sector can be part of the solution. The EcoC must not celebrate European ideals and present European diversity, it must also provide a platfom where issues can be confronted together and cross sectoral alliances across many kinds of borders and divisions can ideed provide a way forward”
It is thus seen for the city and the event of European Capital of Culture in itself becoming an instrument rather than just being an end in itself.
This is very concretely tied in with the objectives for the event:
- Objective 1: ”Aarhus 2017 will support the long term development and also underpin the significance of arts and culture. The cultural programme will contribute to a strengthening of the diversity of European culture.”
- Objective 3: ”Aarhus will employ creativity, innovation, knowledge and experiementation to fuel human development and economic growth”
The evaluation of the whole event will be take place through dedicated research centre which will be set up at the University of Aarhus.
The evaluation will work at three levels:
Macro – overall effect on strategic goals
Meso – specific themes and selected communities – connected to greater investment and innovative strategies
Micro – bids from individual researchers within a framework set out by the university research centre.
I think this is a wonderful way of tying in hard assessment project deliverables with experimental assessment of other outputs.
Overall the Aarhus 2017 application is a very good example of how culture can be used for wider community and city development.