Tampere and 19 other municipalities in Pirkanmaa are applying for the European Capital of Culture title in 2026. But does it make any sense? Does the project just take our tax money? Here are 11 good questions and answers on the subject.
What does an ordinary Tampere resident or Pirkanmaa resident benefit if we get the title?
The goal of the whole project is to increase the well-being of our residents and increase our vitality in the long run.
How much does the Capital of Culture project take our tax money?
The budgets for the ECOC years are usually between EUR 25 and 70 million. In accordance with established practice, approximately 40% of the total budget comes from the applicant city, ie in our case from Tampere and 19 other municipalities in Pirkanmaa. Another 40% comes from the state and the remaining 20% from EU and business cooperation.
What is the budget for the Tampere and it’s competitors?
A budget of EUR 53 million has been drafted for Tampere’s first application book, which means about EUR 25 million from the municipalities over seven years.
The Savonlinna application has a total budget of about half, EUR 24.5 million.
Oulu has already recorded 20 million in funding from the City of Oulu in its budget book this year, which would mean a total budget of about 50 million.
The project is really expensive. Why should we waste millions on it?
If successful, the project will return the money invested in it with interest. According to the official report, the budget for the Aarhus Capital of Culture year was EUR 66 million. This resulted in an increase of EUR 159 million in turnover for the business community in central Denmark, mainly in the tourism sector, and 1965 jobs.
Turku also succeeded. According to the study, Turku’s budget was 55 million, and it brought an increase of 260 million in the companies’ turnover to the economic area.
Sounds too good. Can the Capital of Culture year fail?
Yes. The economic crisis took the Vilnius 2009 program out of funding. And when the Lithuanian national airline ceased operations in January 2009, there was not much to do.
In 2020, the COVID-19 completely stopped the Capital of Culture years of Galway and Rijeka for a while. Their year was extended.
Is the Capital of Culture year just some opera for the elite?
In Tampere’s application culture is understood widely. There is a wide range of civic activities involved, and sport is also part of the year. This is not just some fun for the elite, we already emphasize that our main theme is equality – equality between the sexes, generations, different regions, different population groups.
The final choice will be made by a European panel of experts. How can you make them choose us?
In no way but just making a good bid book. Jury lobbying is prohibited by the rules. Jury members are not even allowed to travel to applicant cities.
Why is the applicant only Tampere? Are other municipalities involved just for show?
It is because of the rules. According to EU rules, the bid must be done in the name of one city. For example, Tartu will be the Capital of Culture in 2024, but its application includes approximately all of southern Estonia.
How to ensure that the voice of municipalities is heard in the preparation of the program?
We have toured all the municipalities involved and gathered suggestions for the program. In the capital year, there are certainly events along Pirkanmaa, including those that extend to many municipalities.
In addition, the project steering group includes representatives from the municipalities in the area. We also keep in regular contact with the cultural officers of the municipalities in the area.
If Tampere is chosen, will that be just a year of festivities in 2026 and that’s it?
The goal is to build an absolutely brilliant program for 2026, but that’s not the end of it. The project should have a lasting impact on the culture of the area, its accessibility, community and cooperation, the cityscape and tourism.
What if Tampere is not chosen? Has all the work been in vain?
Is not. At the same time, we are preparing for the so-called “Plan B”. In other words, if the choice is not made in Tampere, the planned cultural program will be implemented in any case, but of course in a considerably reduced version.