Frequently asked questions

What is the European Capital of Culture?

The European Capital of Culture is one of the most successful EU projects. It is a highly prestigious event; a kind of “Cultural Olympics”, bringing benefits for the inhabitants of the city and region to harvest not only in the given year but, most of all, in the years and decades following.

The “European Capital of Culture” project was launched with the aim of bringing citizens of Europe closer together. Based on this concept and impulse initiated by Melina Mercouri (Greek Minister of Culture), the Council of Ministers launched it in June 1985. Since then, this event has been greeted with growing success among EU citizens, judging from the number of visitors it has so far attracted. Its cultural and social-economical impact is also quite remarkable. In connection with the enlargement of the EU, two cities from two EU countries annually boast the title. The year 2015 is reserved for the Czech Republic and Belgium.

Why did Pilsen win?

  • it met the project evaluation criteria of the international jury
    • a European dimension – European ties and experience of the team members
    • the city and its citizens – active participation in the candidature and support of a wide range of agents representing various interests
    • the city made use of culture as a catalyst for development
    • the city found an excellent balance between cultural projects planned for the year 2015 and regeneration of the city
  • Pilsen has a great creative potential and tradition, while still needing a new impulse to create a home for contemporary art
  • it has what it takes to represent the Czech Republic in 2015 and can become an asset and inspiration for the EU
  • the title will help to solve even the more complex problems of the city such as integration of foreigners, motivation of students to stay or settle down in Pilsen and much more

What is unique about Pilsen?

  • the way it brings together new technologies with art (Techmania, Faculty of Art and Design…)
  • Adolf Loos architectural legacy (the highest number of interiors in Europe after Wien), both synagogues (Great Synagogue – the second largest in Europe)
  • Baroque architecture in the region: Jan Blažej Aichel Santini – monasteries in Plasy and Kladruby; Dientzenhofer – monasteries in Kladruby, Přeštice, Nepomuk…
  • inspiring personalities of Jiří Trnka or Ladislav Sutnar
  • an exceptionally friendly atmosphere – a synergy of the geographic location, human dimension and cultural tradition – natural encounters and merging of local inhabitants with visitors, immigrants and students
  • a firm base of culture events with a great potential (e.g. Theatre under the Pilsen summer sky, Animania, Pilsen Icons)
  • existing cultural vision of the city, participation of the public on developing the Culture Development Programme for the period up to 2019
  • an approved share of the city in the support of cultural activities of 9% of the budget
  • 1st class football team
  • …last but not least, the excellent beer of world renown!

What are the positive aspects of the project? Why did Pilsen win out over Ostrava in the competition?

Creative approach to all aspects of the city’s life can help transform its face substantially. Here we are talking about culture in the widest sense of the word; this is not merely about art, but also about the quality of life in the city, whether the citizens have freedom to create, participate on what’s going on in public space, influence the look of the city etc. The project opens up a wide range of new themes and is brave enough to face even pressing or controversial issues.

The Pilsen 2015 project is mainly aimed at helping cities that are likely to benefit from the project in the ensuing years as well. Pilsen is striving toward this e.g. with the plan of the multi-functional centre Světovar, which will bring to life the former barracks premises not only in the year 2015, but, thanks to the well-prepared concept of future use, it will serve the citizens as a community and cultural space in the long term.

The European dimension of the project is also important. Pilsen cooperates with more than 70 cities and towns in Europe and this cooperation is planned to develop and grow into the future.

Last but not least, a reason for our success was the enthusiasm of Pilsen’s inhabitants and passion of the team, which conceived the vision of the Pilsen 2015 project. The originality and ingenuity was also accentuated by the jury in its final substantiation of the decision.

What are the main ideas of the Pilsen 2015 project?

Fulfilling the vision of an open, cultural city (in all the senses of the word “culture”) is the main goal. The motto of the project is “Pilsen, Open Up!”, i.e. openness to new ideas, innovation, creativity and new streams of art geared toward its own citizens as well as Europe, including a strong programme of transparency. It is about opening up new space for minority genres and directions, multi-cultural society, inter-generation dialogue, connection of art and business, science and play, culture and education, art and technologies, creativity and relaxation, public space and art and the like.

Do you work with volunteers?

According to the experience of past ECoC cities, volunteers play a major role in project implementation. Local volunteers help at various levels, such as in the administrative, technical-organizational or communication departments of the project. Volunteers support and influence the project itself, be it local citizens or young European volunteers from other EU member states.

Our system of work with volunteers is part of a broader participation project called Pilsen 2015 Guardian Angels Club. The symbolism of the title lies not only in the protective and supportive role of the volunteer but also in the fact that the angel is one of the figures of Pilsen’s coat of arms. Guardian Angels support Pilsen as ECoC 2015 and take part in the successful implementation of this project and the further development of the city. Those who wish to become one can apply through our website here. The programme offers several different levels of engagement in the ECoC project and ensuing forms of collaboration.

The Guardian Angels Club wants to activate the largest possible portion of public – not only citizens of Pilsen and its surroundings but people from all over the Czech Republic and abroad. At present the Guardian Angels Club numbers approx. 200 officially registered project supporters and hundreds of further supporters included in our mailing list for sending email information about the ECoC project. In the year 2011 more than two dozen volunteers engaged directly in the implementation of the Pilsen 2015 projects, including the very highly beneficial help of students within the Erasmus Student Network at the West Bohemian University during the Europe Day conference. We also have efficient and long term cooperation with volunteers from Germany.

What is the Melina Mercouri Prize?

The city will have to deserve the prize by meeting 80 % of the commitments made in the project and by following the recommendations made by the selection panel and the monitoring committee. During the first informal monitoring of the project preparations in Brussels in November 2011, the committee has accentuated the successful realisation of the revitalisation of the Světovar premises, namely its transformation into the Culture Factory, as a condition for obtaining the prize and has emphasized this as an investment priority. The prize is awarded the year before the PILSEN 2015 year and amounts to €1.5 million.

What will happen after the year 2015?

A crucial task of the Pilsen 2015 organisation is to prepare a long-term, sustainable programme that will preserve the legacy of the European Capital of Culture project for Pilsen into the future. The programme for the year 2015 is not to be restricted by a clear-cut finale; it is to be the new beginning of a new cultural life in Pilsen. To mark this we have prepared the Festival of Pulsating Lights for the 12th of December 2015 to remind everyone clearly of Pilsen’s location on the main connecting line to Germany and further on to Europe.

Larger-scale projects lasting after the year 2015 include e.g.:

  • Everfund:  a web platform that allows for the support of projects with the involvement of individual donors and functions based on the principle of crowdfunding.Cultivate a Space programme: involvement of the public into improvement of public space in the city
  • Krekr – innovation project in companies through artistic interventions in cooperation with the Swedish organisation TILLT
  • Světovar Culture Factory and creative incubator
  • Support of the tourism industry – special maps and guides: Green map of Pilsen, Pilsen architecture manual, paths of industrial heritage
  • Strategic focus on West Bohemian baroque art as a marketing brand for the regional tourism industry
  • St. George Park as a land-art park with the involvement of the public
  • Synapsis network for cultural cooperation in the region