Eleusina, Kalamata and Rhodes were shortlisted on Friday in the competition for the title of European Capital of Culture 2021 in Greece. The recommendation was done by a panel of independent experts evaluating applications from 14 competing Greek cities at the outcome of a 4-day meeting in Athens.
Being shortlisted for the title can result in significant cultural, economic and social benefits for the cities concerned, provided that their bid is part of a longer-term culture-led development strategy.
Once the panel’s recommendation has been confirmed by Greece, the shortlisted cities have until next autumn to complete their applications. The panel will then meet again in Athens before the end of 2016 to recommend which Greek city will be the European Capital of Culture 2021.
In the same year, there will also be a European Capital of Culture in Romania and one in a candidate country or potential candidate to EU membership — Herceg Novi (Montenegro) and Novi Sad (Serbia) have been short-listed.
Following Wrocław (Poland) and Donostia-San Sebastián (Spain) this year, Aarhus (Denmark) and Paphos (Cyprus) will be European Capitals of Culture in 2017, Leeuwarden (Netherlands) and Valletta (Malta) in 2018, and Matera (Italy) and Plovdiv (Bulgaria) in 2019. Ireland and Croatia will each host a European Capital of Culture in 2020.
Born in 1985 on an idea of the then Greek Minister of Culture, Melina Mercouri, the European Capitals of Culture have grown into one of the most ambitious cultural projects in Europe and one of the best known – and most appreciated – activities of the EU. Their objectives are to promote the diversity of cultures in Europe, to highlight the common features they share and to foster the contribution of culture to the long-term development of cities.