The aims of the Documentation Centre

Saving a cultural heritage

The 25 years of European Capitals of Culture offered in some 60 cities a huge amount of cultural events in all fields, hundreds of infrastructures, thousands of editions, articles, studies, press releases, reports, posters, advertising objects, as well as an enormous international experience and know-how concerning managing approaches, fundraising, communication and promotion, sustainability policy, volunteering incentives, urban interventions, successful and less successful pursuing of extremely differentiated objectives related to the specific traditions and need of every city.

The title of European Capital of Culture, being a challenge and a unique opportunity for every city, most actors from all fields are or tempt to be implied, artists, intellectuals, cultural entities and managers, politicians, social partners, societies, media, educational bodies and of course the citizens want to participate actively and to contribute to the success of the unique adventure of the cultural year of their city.

The long period of preparation from the beginning of the competition for the candidature on national level and the total freedom in the choice of the objectives and the organization models, provide a very rich product that constitutes a precious European cultural, political and managerial heritage, worth to be collected, organized and made accessible to all interested target groups like students, researchers, artists, cultural managers, journalists and the wide public.

Neither the European Commission, owner and manager of this by now most successful European cultural policy action, neither the quite lot of informal and non-profit networks dealing with the European Capitals of Culture have provided the needed human and financial resources to save, store, classify this huge information in the most different supports, hard, soft, audiovisual or digital. Most of the material is stored for a period in the archives of the City Halls or in serves, where it survives for some years until the experience of the European Capital of Culture is definitely a past story and new objectives become the priority of the political bodies of each city.

Having experienced during my term as coordinator of the Network of the European Capitals of Culture, the need to valorize this richness but also the lack of resources and the failure of several attempts made by personalities and bodies of the world of the European Capitals of Culture, I suggested in 2006 to the candidate Mayor of Athens, birth city of the institution, to give a new push to this policy by establishing the Documentation Centre. Nikitas Kaklamanis included the idea in his book “Athens, Eternal Capital of Culture, my strategy for Culture” and engaged himself enthusiastically in the establishment of the Centre.

The aim of this new precious tool offered to all cultural cities of Europe and the whole world – since the European idea has been adopted and adapted also in other continents – is not only to save and store the achievements of the past, but also to make them available for future cultural projects and collaborations and also to create a source of contacts to the very numerous infrastructures, bodies and recurrent events, born in the cities during the cultural year and subsisting further, ensuring and proving the sustainability of the project.

Rodolfo Maslias