2008 : European Capital of Culture
The European Capital of Culture programme is run by the European Union (EU) and is the successor to the European City of Culture programme.
The purpose of the title is not simply to highlight existing cultural excellence, but to encourage cities to develop and innovate in the cultural field. It will be an opportunity to show that culture is central to the life of a city, and demonstrate its contribution to regeneration, social inclusion, education and business.
The European Capital of Culture scheme also aims to promote European cultural co-operation and understanding, and therefore requires a city to mount a programme of European scale and significance.
Under the programme each Member State has been assigned a year for which to nominate a city to hold the title. The UK was appointed to host the European Capital of Culture in 2008. Liverpool was selected for this honour from twelve applicant cities by a competitive process overseen by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport
To recognise and celebrate the merits of their bids, all the cities short listed by the panel, apart from Liverpool, will be designated by the UK government as 'Centres of Culture' for 2008.
In 2002, Brugge (Belgium) and Salamanca (Spain) were joint European Cities of Culture, a title which passed in 2003 to Graz (Austria) and in 2004 jointly to Genoa (Italy) and Lille (France). Cork was European Capital of Culture in 2005. Salamanca (Spain) holds this honour in 2006 and Luxembourg in 2007. Then comes Liverpool in 2008.
There are similar arrangements for a Capital of Culture title for European cities not within the European Union. Sibiu in Romania and Stavanger in Norway will hold the Capital of Culture title in this way 2007 and 2008 respectively.
In Liverpool, in preparation for anticipation of the European Capital of Culture status, 2004 was designated the Year of Faiths, 2005 the Year of the Sea, 2006 is the Year of Performance and 2007, coinciding with the city's 800th birthday, Year of Heritage.