Linz is a great example of how to excel in being European Capital of Culture. And this comes across all fields, as Linz understood the concept of sustainability, long term planning and cooperation among all teams involved in the project. There is a clear difference between Linz and Pecs, the latter not knowing how to make the most out of being awarded this title.
Linz09 summary? 365 days of culture in all its forms, shapes and sizes as well as city developments, bringing a new vibe in Linz. Almost 3,5 million people attended 7700 events, exhibitions, festivals, actions and projects for Linz09, more than expected. You can find more here.
Because of our tight schedule, we only had a little over a day to discover Linz, enough though to make us curious about it. We visited a few tourist attractions and tasted the local cuisine; also, we had a brief meeting with Georg Steiner, who is the Director of the tourism office in Linz. He told us about the city’s candidature, what it meant to win the title and how they approached this opportunity.
Mr. Steiner pointed out the collaboration between the European Capital of Culture candidature officials and the city’s tourism office, as they worked closely together.
He also told us about his recent visits to Riga and Vilnius, where he found out that that tourism offices did not inform people on European Capitals of Culture, moreover they were not informed themselves on this subject.
Austrian politics suggested Linz this partnership, not only for 2009 but also for the long term, thus all marketing strategies were designed together. They created a new Info Centre which became promoted by tourists as an attraction point. Most of the implementation team was formed by members of the tourism office and together they organized the whole 2009 programme.
Tourism and culture are meant to work together synergistically.
A tourism office can only offer information on events and programmes in a broad and general manner, with little details. Linz decided to adopt a different approach: any representative of the Info Centre was able to provide detailed information on events, exhibitions, artist, etc. that were going on, also answer any questions a tourist might have. The Info Centre representatives served as some sort of tour guides, well informed and trained through a series of seminars.
For 2009, Linz had a budget of about 69 million Euros. Approximately 10 million from this budget came from sponsorships, ticketing and merchandising.
To be noted that the politics decided that 2 million Euros out of this budget are to remain available for the future, in order to continue projects started for Linz European Capital of Culture. Among most former European Capitals of Culture, the trend is to spend their entire budget over the year they’ve been awarded the title, some even exceeding it.
Citizens did not have a very good reaction for Linz09. They were critical because of their high expectations; though ECOC suggests classical cultural elements, Linz offered a visual first impression.
They faced problems, but they had the courage to try, which eventually turned into success!
What happened in Linz after 2009?
Well, the city encompasses both the present and the future, this is the idea on which their branding strategy was based for 2009.
Their strategy is founded on the concept of the future. As in Austria Vienna or Saltsburg are well known for their history and traditions, Linz wanted to differentiate itself through a uniqe approach. The programme for 2009 brought new ideas which had a great impact. After this year, Linz has grown not only in the eyes of Austrians, but also in the eyes of people from around the world. Starting with 2009, the percentage of foreign visitors is in a continuous rise, which places the city in a favourable light, including in front of their Government. For instance, after the recession in 2008, Austria faced downfalls in the number of tourists coming to the country, only Linz had a approximately 9% rise in the year in which it was ECOC.
They chose a theme yearly, and in 2010 it was the nature theme, as Linz has 60% green areas.
In 2013 they opened an Opera House, an investment of 150 million Euros, hence having the theme of music for last year.
Both 2014 and 2015 have the Danube theme.
The Danube represents the nature, but also the economical and cultural areas. Linz prepared lots of anniversaries for next year related to the Danube, which is a symbol of connection. It represents the cyclicality of Europe, with good times and not so good times. It has an important role, not only for Linz; history reminds us that all great rulers of Europe had close relationships to the river.
Advices to take from Linz?
- Tradition and history are important aspects to consider for nomination ECOC.
- Winning the title means solving cultural, ethnic and religious issues that the city faces, and not be limited by what happened in the past and the decisions of our ancestors.
- The focus must not be on statistics or details of certain periods of the history, but on the reason why these periods ended and the direction of the evolution. When considering culture, it is quite similar; there are always new styles and trends in music, theatre, dance and so on, and we must keep up with the evolution of these. This year’s Eurovision was won by Conchita Wurst, who was not given any chance of winning at the beginning of the competition, thus placing Austria on the next level of modern culture. It’s an example for many people, that gender and sexual orientation are not so important but rather the connection among people, created through art.
- Both in Cluj and in Linz, reflections of the past can be emphasized. Linz linked itself to Hitler and his plans, we can do the same with Cluj and Ceausescu. It is not easy to bring up such topics however. They need a modern and critical approach at the same time.
- It is necessary that we analyse the quality of life today and see how it could be improved through culture.
- The tourism office must work closely together with the association that is in charge of the city’s candidature to ECOC, accept proposals and ideas from them, shot term and long term. It is not recommended that the Director of the tourism office decides by himself what is good and what is bad for the project. Even if some of the proposals are a bit more daring, it is highly advised that he is flexible and willing to cooperate.
- The marketing department of the tourism office must serve as a middleman between the representatives of the cultural environment and the people, especially the tourists. Linz implemented this in a successful manner, and continued to work like this after 2009.
For Linz, 5 years after ECOC, the tourism office is the only one producing contend closely related to the ECOC and continues projects started in 2009.
clujx.com is project of Cluj bloggers together with the Association “Cluj-Napoca – European Cultural Capital”, supported by TNT Romania, Traveo.ro, Sam Mills Distribution, Skobbler, Sykes, Orange Romania, Vitrina Advertising si Class Fiscal Consulting.