In what was largely a formality, European Union culture ministers approved on May 19 the naming of Plovdiv as European Capital of Culture 2019, a move that was a sequel to a decision by an international jury in September 2014.
The EU culture ministers’ meeting at which the decision was taken was attended by Bulgaria’s European Commissioner Kristalina Georgieva, who is vice-president of the EC, and by Plovdiv mayor Ivan Totev, who was to sign an agreement with the EU on his city’s capital of culture status.
The international jury chose Plovdiv over Sofia, Varna, Veliko Turnovo, Rousse and Bourgas.
In 2019, Plovdiv will share European Capital of Culture status with the Italian city of Matera.
Plovdiv will be the first Bulgarian European Capital of Culture.
Under the motto “Together”, Plovdiv will highlight its multicultural aspect, including its Roma communities, and create new opportunities in creative and cultural industries for local inhabitants, a European Commission media statement said.
Plovdiv will receive 20 million leva (about 10.2 million euro) in state funding up to 2019. Of this sum, it is envisaged that 1.5 million will be paid out in 2015.
Matera will be the fourth Italian city to hold the title of European Capital of Culture, after Florence in 1986, Bologna in 2000 and Genoa in 2004, the European Commission said.
With the slogan “Open Future”, Matera aims to use this as an opportunity to show how culture can help build a better and more inclusive Europe for the future, the statement said.
Both cities now have nearly four years to prepare for the title-year.
This will involve working with the cities’ inhabitants and their creative, social and economic communities and ensuring the full support of the respective regional and national authorities.
Over the past 30 years, more than 50 cities have been European Capitals of Culture.
Croatia and Ireland are the next in line to host the event in 2020. Croatia’s shortlisted candidate cities will be announced on May 29, to be followed later in the year by the announcement of the Irish shortlisted cities.