The regional aspect was one the strengths of the Tampere bid. The picture is from Vesilahti. (Photo: Laura Vanzo)

Panel gave Tampere bid some praise, but also hard criticism

Quality by Equality. That was the title of Tampere and Pirkanmaa bid in the competition for European Capital of Culture 2026. This bid took Tampere to the second and final round of this competition.

The statement of the international panel is now published. Tampere bid gets some praise but also some hard criticism.

Panel finds “the main theme equality ambitious and relevant but complex to implement”.

The panel says that “the programme structure, including its regional flagships, was clear with potential for relevant artistic vision and topics European-wise. The “Quality by Equality” concept has per se a European resonance. However, there is still a need to create a strategy aiming to translate this concept into individual projects that will be able to get understanding from and kindle interest of a wider European audience”.

In the panel’s view, “the current proposal is too much focused on local and regional elements and activities e.g. promoting European cultural diversity or highlighting (current or past) common themes, are not yet developed. In the panel’s view, the bid’s European dimension is therefore underdeveloped at this stage”.

The panel gives us a conclusion:

“Whilst interesting per se and having potentially a strong European resonance, the concept of “quality by equality” should be better explained, in particular how it is rooted in the local context and needs, instead of being used as a very general motto that sometimes seems to the panel too much deprived of a concrete substance.”

“The concept of the bid needs to be translated into the cultural and artistic programme in a practical and concrete way, not only in a theoretical alignment. There is a need for a clear and strong message to be formulated, which will be communicated and understood by audiences coming from across Europe. For that, a strategy aiming at building European partnerships, and not limited to ECoC cities, must be developed.”

The panel says that the cultural program has a number of interesting initiatives. 

It is also positive, that “the bid is presented as a joint initiative between the city of Tampere and the region of Pirkanmaa, which is positive. However, a clear regional dimension (in line with the main theme of the bid) is still to be developed. The panel encourages the bidding team to conduct a deeper research and look more closely into the city and the region’s potential.”

The panel gave some thoughts also about how will the COVID-19 change the world? The panel had some doubts about the planned funding from the government level. Will it happen as planned? The panel also gave an advice to think the effects of pandemia in a general level:

“In the panel’s view, there is a need for a new approach to align culture and major yearlong events with this new world, notably new procedures and expectations. This refers to every level of operation, from artistic expression to administrative work. A more elaborated contingency plan with due alternatives should be an integral part of such long-term planning as the ECOC.”

In the second stage of the competition the 60-page bid book has to be deepened and developed to a 100-page bid book. The deadline of the second bid book is April 2021.

The Tampere bid book for the first stage can be read here.