Success story of


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  • SUCCESS STORY OF
  • ISTANBUL 2010
  • ECOC
  • Emre Gönen
  • CPS Advisory Group

How did Istanbul Become a Candidate for European Capital of Culture? Four Milestones

  • 2000-2005: initiative taken by a group of civil society activists including city’s cultural and artistic communities, academicians, administrators and representatives of NGOs.
  • 2005: Application Process
  • 2006: Selection of Istanbul as ECOC
  • 2007: Establishment of the Istanbul 2010 ECOC Agency

I. 2000-2005

  • The decision (1419/1999/EC) taken in July 1999 enabled the title of European Capital of Culture to be extended to include cities in countries that were not members of the European Union during the period 2005-2019. This created the opportunity for Istanbul to apply for the title of European Capital of Culture 2010.
  • Early 2000 an Initiative Group (the Istanbul 2010 ECOC Initiative), comprising 13 non-governmental organizations, initiated the bid process and started its activities.
  • The civil society group included city’s cultural and artistic communities, academicians, administrators and representatives of NGOs.

I. 2000-2005

  • Between 2000-2004, the civil society representatives had worked actively in Turkey to have the support of the Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Ministry of Culture and the Istanbul Governor's office.
  • March 2005 the Prime Minister issued a circular asking all institutions to support the bid.
  • March 2005, with the support of the above mentioned Institutions, the Istanbul 2010 ECOC Initiative Group had various meetings in Brussels with the officials of the European Commission Directorate General for Education and Culture.
  • April 2005 Establishment of the Advisory and Executive Boards of Istanbul 2010 ECOC Initiative.

II. 2005 – Application Process

  • Istanbul delivered the bid document entitled “Istanbul: A City of the Four Elements” for the European Capital of Culture (ECOC) of the year 2010, to the European Commission on December 13 2005.

III. Why is Istanbul a City of the Four elements ?

  • These four elements aims to convey the basic message:
  • Earth as the traditional culture
  • Air as the culture of religions and cultures
  • Water as the culture of connecting to others
  • Fire as the modern supranational culture
  • The synthesis of the four elements will play a major role in reconstructing harmony in order for everyone to live together in multicultural environment

IV. 2006 – Activities until the Selection of Istanbul as ECOC 2010

  • 1. Various meetings, contacts and coalition buldings
  • with the officials of the EU Institutions: Directorate General for Enlargement and Directorate General for Education and Culture of the European Commission, Members of the Culture and Education Committee of the European Parliament, Members of the Commission for Culture, Education and Research of the Committee of the Regions,
  • with other candidate cities’ representatives,
  • 2. Presentation and press conference at the European Parliament
  • with the support of 7 MEPs, the Istanbul 2010 European Capital of Culture Initiative organised a presentation on the candidacy of Istanbul in the European Parliament,
  • Press conference held on the same day at the European Parliament, where Istanbul Egemen Bağış, former Chairman of the Advisory Board of Istanbul 2010 ECOC Initiative and Mr. Nuri M. Çolakoğlu Chairman of the Executive Board explained the aims, targets and introduced the projects involved.

IV. 2006 – Activities until the Selection of Istanbul as ECOC 2010

  • 3.Presentations to the EU Ambassadors in Ankara and EU Consul Generals in Istanbul,
  • 4.Management of the relations with the selection board, preparations before the selection board presentation.

V. Selection of Istanbul as ECOC 2010

  • In April 2006, the selection board recommended that Essen from Germany, Pécs from Hungary and Istanbul to be designated as "European Capitals“.
  • Main conclusions of the Selection Jury:
  • The delegation had a clear view of the concept and the tools and methodologies needed in order to achieve the event.
  • The innovative character of programme (4 elements) and the strong European dimension of the project.
  • The bottom-up process, as well as the active role of civil society, as crucial assets of the proposal by the selection jury.
  • The communication strategy which was developed as an integral part of the proposal could serve as example to be followed by other candidate cities .

VI. Specific Characteristics of Istanbul as ECOC 2010

  • Istanbul is the last non-EU Country city to be awarded the title until a further decision.
  • So far all the ECOCs have been either proposed, supported or sponsored by a government or a municipality.
  • Istanbul is a unique example as it is the only ECOC to be selected with an initiative launched by civil society.
  • The bid process was conducted by an ad hoc organisation formed by representatives of NGOs, local administration and the central government which was a first step in the way of creating an new governance in Turkey.

VII. Istanbul 2010 ECOC Agency

  • The activities are managed by the Istanbul 2010 ECOC Agency established on the basis of a new Law adopted in 2007.
  • Organisational Structure of Istanbul 2010 ECOC Agency composed of:
    • Coordination Board
    • Advisory Board
    • Executive Board
    • Secretary General
    • Directors and Coordinators
    • Working Groups

VIII. Benefits of Istanbul ECOC 2010 (1)

  • The name of Istanbul will be associated with culture and the arts all over the world.
  • Within the Turkey’s accession process to the EU, the projects that will be realized will demonstrate that Istanbul, the symbol of the country, has been interacting with European culture for hundreds of years.
  • Istanbul 2010 faces a major challenge in initiating new approaches to conserving and rehabilitating the city’s cultural heritage with the primary aim of turning cultural artefacts into resources that enrich the lives and visions of Istanbul’s present-day inhabitants.

VIII. Benefits of Istanbul ECOC 2010 (2)

  • Istanbul will achieve lasting gains in the fields of urban renewal, urban living and environmental and social development.
  • New museums will be established to protect and display our cultural assets and historical buildings will be renovated, given new roles and opened to the public.
  • Istanbullites will embrace new artistic disciplines. Young talented people will have the opportunity to become more closely involved in artistic creativity.
  • Jobs will be created for a large number of people ranging from communications to organization, education, design, management and creative fields.

VIII. Benefits of Istanbul ECOC 2010 (3)

  • Cultural tourism will be invigorated and develop.
  • Many people from the world of culture and the arts, together with members of the print and visual media, will visit Istanbul from Europe and different countries all around the world.
  • This will make a positive contribution to the promotion and branding of Istanbul and Turkey’s accession process to the EU.
  • Being selected as a European Capital of Culture will give a boost to the city’s economic relations with Europe as well as contributing to its cultural relations.
  • Thank you


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