After Riga, we left full of enthusiasm for the Czech Republic to try to find out how did Plzen prepare for 2015, when it will be European Capital of Culture, together with Mons.
Aldo we had an official meeting established from the end of May with Sulženko Jiří, director of Plzen2015, he did not answer our email because he was on a holiday. We asked for another contact person and the answer came after we returned from our route from Mirka Reifová, PR and Communication Manager Plzen2015. Even though we did not manage to speak face to face with the Plzen people, we learned from them that international communication is important and that the answers for such solicitations should be provided faster.
We walked through the city, tried the local cuisine and came across a few signs with the Plzen2015 logo. The city center is a construction site, probably preparing for next year…
Why did Plzen want to become a European Capital of Culture?
The cultural field and city representatives realized that the European Capital of Culture project is an opportunity for them, so they started a long-term process of deep inner transformation of the city and even of the entire region, in order to use this potential and to create new and long-lasting bonds between sectors; for example, between the public administration, business and the non-profit sector. Correctly implemented, this change process can bring a new quality of life: an active and creative environment and a friendly atmosphere that reflect in the human relationships, from a neighbor level to social integration of problematic groups. Of course, this can also become a marketing strategy that can offer the city’s image a boost, helping the creative industries and occupying the workforce.
The candidacy came hand in hand with the cultural vision of the city, which was elaborated in 2009 and which implied the public opinion (e.g. Future City Game)
The project’s motto is “Pilsen, open up! “, which means openness towards new innovative ideas, creativity and new art directions, towards its citizens and towards Europe. It is about opening a new space for minority genres and directions, multicultural society, inter-generational dialogue, interconnections between art and business, science and games, culture and education, art and tehnology, creativity and relaxation, public spaces and art spaces etc.
Plzen is different from other cities through:
- the connection between art and new technologies (e.g.: Techmania and the Art and Design Institute)
- the legacy left behind by Adolf Loos and the Santini baroque architecture
- personalities such as Jiří Trnka or Ladislav Sutnar
- cultural events with an European opening: Skupa’s Pilsen, The Theatre Festival, The Film Festival or Jazz.
We tried to find out how receptive were the citizens regarding the ECOC and how did they get involved. We received a few links as reply:
– the program of public space development „Foster the City“, by which citizens suggest small changes for the surroundings of their houses.
– Hidden City – app currently available in CZ but next year also in English and German. The app presents a subjective history of the town, life stories and memories gathered by a local team. Through this project they are trying to understand the DNA of the city and its purpose is to become a debate platform about the past, present and future of the community.
– Guardian Angels Club is a platform opened to public participation in the Plzen2015 project, taking care of ambassadors, volunteers and interns.
Besides successfully representing the Czech Republic, as declared by Mirka Reifová, the response to the question “What problems do you wish to solve by the ECOC project?” refers to finalizing the creative incubator Svetovar.
We did not receive advice for the application of Cluj, or atypical PR responses we wanted to avoid. That is why it was important for us to meet with official representatives and why we considered it was worth the effort to out across Europe and not simply resume to a set of questions in an email…
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