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The European Capital of Culture launched in April

Oulu is strongly involved – The 2026 European Capital of Culture will be selected from Finland

One Finnish city will become the 2026 European Capital of Culture. The Ministry of Education and Culture will launch a search for cities in April. The application deadline ends in May 2020. The second 2026 European Capital of Culture 2026 will be selected from Slovakia.

The European Capital of Culture event is one of the most popular actions of the European Union. It highlights the value of cultural life in the winning cities. The European Capital of Culture programme promotes the richness of art and culture and the similarities of European cultures. The winning cities have the opportunity to develop its activities culturally, socially and economically. A European panel of experts selects the European Capital of Culture. The official appointment will be made by the Ministry of Education and Culture in the summer of 2021.

"It's great that many cities have already shown interest in the European Capital of Culture event," says Minister Sampo Terho.

According to Mr. Terho, the search phase already gives the city an opportunity to engage in wide cultural discussion, to highlight its strengths and characteristics and to understand how it wants to develop culturally.

"We want a long, more than one year-long search period to give cities of all sizes the opportunity to get excited and enter the competition."

Now the third European Capital of Culture in Finland will be selected, two of which have already held the Capital of Culture title with Helsinki in 2000 and Turku in 2011. This year, the title of European Capital of Culture is held by Matera, Italy and Plovdiv, Bulgaria.

Application Period Lasts Over a Year

The Ministry of Education and Culture will publish a call for applications in April 2019 and hold a press conference on the rules and content of the application. The deadline is May 2020.

An independent 12-member European expert panel evaluates the applications. Experts are selected from a list of independent art and culture experts maintained by the Commission and Finland will appoint two experts to the panel.

The selection process has two phases: the jury will select the first batch of applications in June 2020. These selected cities will then be able to improve their applications before the jury's second evaluation in spring 2021.

The expert panel recommends one city as the European Capital of Culture. The Ministry will designate this city as the European Capital of Culture in the summer of 2021.

After the selection is made, the expert panel will follow the preparations by the city and provide support and advice until the beginning of the European Capital of Culture year.

The Selection Process Based on EU Decision

The European Capitals of Culture are governed by the European Parliament and Commission Decision No 445/2014 / EU. Finland is now implementing the decision for the first time because the selection procedure for 2000 and 2011 was based on a previous EU decision. The biggest differences between the procedures are that a European panel of experts decides the selection.

The evaluation of applications is based on the criteria of the above-mentioned EU Decision, including: cultural and artistic content, variety and diversity of the activities, cultural strategy of the city, development plans of the cultural and creative sectors, the scope and quality of activities, credibility of project implementation, participation and project management.

The financing of the European Capital of Culture event consists of funding from the city and its partners (potentially nearby towns and cities, companies and communities), the Commission and national funding. The decision on the amount of national funding has not been decided yet. The Commission will award the Melina Mercouri Prize of EUR 1.5 million to a designated city. In addition, cultural events and projects based on European cooperation under the European Capital of Culture year can seek support from the EU's Creative Europe Program. 

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