Members of the GO! 2025 team attended a multi-day conference/meeting of all past, current and future European Capitals of Culture (ECOC), co-hosted by the teams of the upcoming European Capitals of Culture Bad Ischl-Salzkammergut 2024 (Austria), Bodø 2024 (Norway) and Tartu 2024 (Estonia). The meeting took place in Tartu, southern Estonia, from 19 to 23 September 2023.
The event was divided into three days, with each day dedicated to one of the above-mentioned host cities. 20 September was the day of Bad Ischl-Salzkammergut 2024, where a discussion forum addressed the topic of the future of the European Capitals of Culture. This was followed by a day dedicated to the Tartu 2024 team, which presented its official programme, and in the afternoon a visit to the remote region of southern Estonia, which is part of the ECOC area. There we got to know Estonian culture and the cooperation between the tourism and cultural sectors. The conference ended on 22 September with the presentation of the Bodø 2024 team’s programme, which focused on research and themes of sustainable futures through culture, and addressed other important aspects of European Capitals of Culture (volunteers, opening ceremonies, international cooperation, cooperation with the region and municipalities, etc.).
Networking among the participating ECOC took place throughout the days of the meeting, and a number of artistic performances by the host cities took place.
Participation in such meetings is vital, as discussions, exchanges of views and experiences between the participating teams take place throughout, contributing to a richer understanding and improvement of the ECOC concept. This contributes to a better preparation and implementation of upcoming ECOC projects such as ours. The conference also provided an opportunity to learn about the cultural and artistic practices of different cities and to network with artists, creatives and cultural organisations from elsewhere. All of this strengthens international cooperation and enables the exchange of ideas for innovative cultural projects, which we are planning ourselves as GO! 2025.
The conference we attended is of a scale that requires careful planning, coordination of the various elements and ensuring the smooth running of a multi-day event with many participants. It allowed us, as future organisers of the 2024 Family Meeting, to have the opportunity to go deeper into the implementation of a similar project and to exchange valuable experiences for the successful implementation of a future conference.