European Capitals of Culture for This and Next Year Meet in Vienna


On 27th June, the high-ranking representatives of this year's ECoC cities and their guests met at Strandbar Herrmann on the banks of the Danube Canal in Vienna. The unprecedented event was attended by representatives of the European Capitals of Culture of Veszprém-Balaton in Hungary, Timisoara in Romania and Elefsina in Greece, who invited VIPs from the international diplomatic and Austrian tourism and cultural scene.

The aim of this year's "ECoC Trio" is to present the priorities of their programme series, take stock of the work done so far as the programme year approaches its halfway point, and look ahead to find further cooperation frameworks for future collaborations. The choice of a venue on the banks of the Danube Canal, as well as the choice of a "halftime" date, was of symbolic importance for the organisers. The Danube, a river that connects many countries, histories and cultures of Europe, is a symbol of European unity. The message that emerged from most of the contributions was the desire to create tourist experience areas through cooperation and joint cultural projects, and that the best practices of the ECoC cities are the best way to contribute to this. The event, which lasted the whole evening and was attended by more than a dozen diplomatic missions, was an excellent opportunity for diplomats, cultural tourism operators and representatives of the ECoC cities to exchange views and ideas for the future.

The surprise guests of the evening were representatives of the Austrian city of Bad Ischl / Salzkammergut region, next year's Capital of Culture. The Salzammergut2024 project is preparing to take on the title of Capital of Culture with a similar concept as Veszprém is doing this year together with Lake Balaton Region. The main focus of the projects is to provide an optimum experience space through the creative expression of culture, where local residents and visitors alike can have a good time. It is the search for sustainable solutions and the combination of these solutions that makes the success of the ECoC cities' projects, to sum up the lessons learned from the panel interviews, which were organised in three blocks during the evening. In addition to delicious drinks and snacks, the spirited music of the Ősze Jazz Trio set the mood for lively and convivial discussions and exchanges on a pleasant summer evening. At the end of the event, the raffle offered valuable prizes, inviting the lucky winners to the Veszprém-Balaton region, Timișoara and Elefsia.

Over 150 participants registered for the event, which was initiated by Veszrém-Balaton2023 and the Hungarian Cultural Institute of Vienna (Collegium Hungaricum), and co-organised by the Romanian Cultural Institute of Austria and the Tourist Representation of Greece in Austria. The main sponsors of the evening were the Hungarian Tourism Agency / Visit Hungary and sustainable solutions specialist Blitzblank GmbH. The Veszprém-Balaton region was represented by Chief Adviser Can Togay, International Relations Manager Júlia Bucz from Veszprém and Balázs Kovács, Special Representative of VEB2023 for Austria and Southern Germany from Vienna. The panel discussions of the summer "ECoC Halftime Party" in Vienna, which attracted considerable media interest, were moderated by Márton Méhes, Director of Collegium Hungaricum Wien, together with Balázs Kovács. In the diplomatic and political session, Gábor Mayer, Hungarian State Secretary for Regional Development, spoke about the potential of the regional development dimension of the ECoC projects. On the Austrian side, the event was marked by the presence and contributions of Ernst Woller, President of the Provincial Parliament of Vienna, Martin Eichtinger, Special Envoy and Coordinator for Austria's Neighborhood Policy, and Elisabeth Schweeger, Intendant of the Salzkammergut2024 Cultural Year.


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