The European Commission proposed on Tuesday, that Greece’s Elefsina and Timisoara (Romania) push back their terms as European Capitals of Culture to 2023 instead of 2021 as initially planned due to the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on preparations.
Hard hit by the health crisis, Rijeka (Croatia) and Galway (Ireland) have had to postpone or cancel all events since March 2020 without any clarity on when they could resume their programs and under which conditions. In view of the pandemic impact, the Commission suggested allowing the two cities to extend their terms as 2020 European Capitals of Culture until 30 April 2021.
It also proposed postponing the year Novi Sad (Serbia) is due to step in as European cultural capital from 2021 to 2022, and in turn Timisoara and Elefsina hold the title instead of 2021 in 2023.
“Rijeka and Galway deserve a fair chance to bounce back and showcase their resilience and creativity,” said Margaritis Schinas, vice-president for Promoting our European Way of Life.
“I am confident that for Novi Sad, Timisoara and Elefsina, additional time will allow to weather the current downturn in the cultural and tourism sectors and mobilize relevant investment, including through solidarity on a European level,” he added.
Preparations in Elefsina, Timisoara, and Novi Sad have also stopped due to Covid-19 leading to a high level of uncertainty mainly with regard to financing and safety regulations exacerbated by the reduced tourism flows.
“Culture has been badly hit by the pandemic and European Capitals of Culture are no exception. Despite the energy, enthusiasm and professionalism of their teams and partners, Rijeka and Galway were unable to roll out their 2020 European Capital of Culture programs as planned. I hope that both cities will make the most of the possibility offered to them to prolong their special year. I am sure that Timisoara, Elefsina and Novi Sad, the European Capitals of Culture next in line, will benefit from extra time to prepare their ambitious programs,” said Mariya Gabriel, European Commissioner for Innovation, Research, Culture, Education and Youth.
The 2022 European Capitals of Culture, Kaunas (Lithuania) and Esch (Luxembourg), as well as Veszprém (Hungary) in 2023, are less affected and still have time to adjust their programs, said the Commission proposal which is set to go through European Parliament and the Council for consideration and finalization.