On Friday, 14th June partners from European culture sector gathered at Narva Art Residency for an international collaboration workshop focusing on the city’s bid to become the European Capital of Culture in 2024 and its candidacy programme.

The workshop brought together key figures from other capitals of culture, like current title bearer Matera, Valletta 2018 and Kaunas 2022, the representatives of Finland’s cultural mecca Tampere, applying for the title in 2026, as well as organizations from St. Petersburg and other international partners.  

The aim of the workshop was to explore international collaborations, co-create programme parts and develop the European Dimension of Narva’s bid. During the first half of the day partner cities were sharing their experience and stories on preparing for the European Capital of Culture title year. Narva presented its vision to be the collaboration hub between Europe and Russia, between the East and the West. The presentation focused on Narva’s identity, strengths and weaknesses, and the city’s future plans, as well as programmes for working with the local community. Special emphasis was put on the international cooperation programme and the development of cultural cooperation between Europe and Russia where Europe has great expectations from Narva 2024, considering the fact that Narva is a unique Russian-speaking city in the EU. The second half of the day already saw workshops in groups, developing ideas and projects. The workshop took place in Narva Art Residency, a unique cultural platform, facilitating residencies, art exhibitions, talks and educational seminars.

During the day the delegation also went on a walkabout around Narva, visiting the places identified by Narva 2024 programme team as potential centres for events related to the bid, including the former Kreenholm Manufacturing Company, Narva Castle and Narva College of the of the University of Tartu as well as Performing Arts Centre Vaba Lava. The last stop was Narva Promenade on the bank of River Narva and Art Club Ro-Ro, a hub for independent music culture in Narva for more than a decade.

Comments from guests

“Narva is a place where you "feel" the power of being Europe more than in any other city. From here Europe is perceived and appreciated. And it is from here that Europe should rebuild a common sense, from the edges, where one can experience the beauty of hybrid identities and show its value and pride. Narva can become a platform for all European cities that experience the marginality of being "border", both geographically and culturally, to transform it with opportunities.”

Francesco Caldarola, Relations and Development manager assistant at Matera-Basilicata 2019 Foundation

"Narva's bid demonstrates a strong European dimension and raises important questions related to the European identity, cross-border cooperation, international relations of the EU, multilingualism and much more that other cities of the world can learn from. Building on the unique demographic and geographic aspects of the region, Narva could offer a unique and meaningful project for the whole European community. Apart from the Cyprus ECoC programme, I don't think there was ever an ECoC case that had such political relevance. Apart from that, the city is going through some postindustrial challenges that Kaunas shares with you as well. It offers some very high potential for creative industries and artistic programming which could turn out as a very attractive and contemporary programme."

Ana Čižauskiene, Head of International Relations and Programming of Kaunas 2022 

“Narva’s opportunity to become European Capital of Culture is a European opportunity to open up new conversations on European values. It can be a Capital of Culture where regeneration is not only about physical infrastructure but about adding a beat to the heart of Narva and the region; where  cultural heritage is not only about a boost in tourism but about a soulful reconciliation with the past and a purposeful trajectory into the future; where artistic expression is not only about a calendar of events but about the empowerment of resident and visiting communities, be they artistic or not, that connect with each other and the neighbourhood through the power of arts and creativity. These three desires are shared European desires, both long for renewal and transformation and this is why Narva should be next”. 

Toni Attard, Founder & Director of Malta’s CultureVenture Projects 

Preparing for Narva’s bid to become the European Capital of Culture in 2024, an open call for programme ideas has been announced. Deadline for submitting proposals is June 23rd 2019. More info: 

The final bid, setting out the full candidacy programme for 2020-2025 must be filed with the selection committee by August 1, 2019. The winner will be picked by the autumn.