Exhibition from December 2022, closing the capital of culture year for Esch , Source: Léa Cheymol via Esch2022

Esch2022 – the benefits and aftermath of European Capital of Culture

Esch2022 – the benefits and aftermath of European Capital of Culture

The team presented the final report about a year, which was supposed to put the Luxembourgish city on the cultural map of Europe

Last week, the team at Esch2022 – the organization behind Luxembourg’s European Capital of Culture title-holder, Esch-sur-Alzette, presented a report about the achievements of the year-long initiative. In 2017, local authorities introduced the city’s comprehensive cultural strategy, named [Connexions].

The document outlined a 10-year plan that aimed to put this small city on the cultural map of Europe, as a strong, vibrant and diverse space for art, and with its own unique identity.

Past and future hurdles

By design, the European Capital of Culture year was meant to be in the middle of the programme’s runtime, as a halfway point for evaluating goals, aims and progress.

Some of the initial hurdles authorities had to overcome were the creation of enough spaces for culture and housing, as well as the opening of official lines of communication and cooperation with artists. Prior to the big event – Esch2022, the city invested in creating more spaces and started an active dialogue and policies supporting local actors.

However, the big challenge still lies ahead – keeping up the momentum. This is because the European Capital of Culture is a very high-profile event, which usually attracts a lot of international attention. Additionally, it comes with considerable funding as officials pump up the sector with support for the long and festive year.

Then, during the ‘special’ year activity and interest peak and after which support slowly starts drying up leaving the city with a fading memory of what a vibrant cultural scene could look like.

Esch2022 – a year of culture in numbers

According to the official report, last year Esch hosted 512,000 visitors with around 60% from the rest of Luxembourg and 27% from France. They attended 1,351 events which held close to 3,000 activities. Moreover, Esch2022 got together 1,789 artists, with 600 coming from Luxembourg.

Additionally, the local tourism sector released a preliminary report claiming that there was a 23% increase in arrivals compared to 2019 – the current peak year. Moreover, there was an impressive 38% increase in overnight stays.

According to the Esch2022 report, a significant portion of project leaders claimed that they plan to continue collaboration and initiatives started during the European Capital of Culture year. 21% said they plan to continue all activities, while 60% plan to continue some activities.

Nonetheless, the true test will only come with time and transparency from the local government about the goals and achievements of the city’s cultural strategy. Moreover, as the organisers are packing up, municipalities will have to pick up the slack and continue to grow the local art scene.



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