The decision for Ravenna to bid for European Capital of Culture was officially announced by the Mayor of Ravenna in 2007, through a letter to the Prime Minister Romano Prodi, to the President of the European Parliament Hans-Gert Poettering and to the President of the European Commission José Manuel Barroso.
Between 2007 and 2009, the candidacy proposal was presented to the local institutions, organisations, and citizens, to ensure its complete and wide-ranging dissemination; a publication was also produced, entitled “Ravenna, toward the bid for European Capital of Culture 2019”, setting out the willingness and reasons for the bid, and presenting the actors and events which characterise Ravenna’s cultural production.
At the European level, a series of technical and political meetings were held with the managers of the Directorate-General for Culture, with our Members of European Parliament, as well as with our diplomatic delegation to the European Union.
Most importantly, during this stage, meetings were organised and relations established with some other cities that have been or will be European Capitals of Culture: in particular Lille (2004), Luxembourg (2007), Liverpool (2008), Linz (2009), Istanbul (2010), Pécs (2010), Kosice (2013), Riga (2014).
On 12 December 2009 the Cultural Assembly was held, marking an important milestone in the process of informing and involving Ravenna’s institutions and cultural associations in the candidacy.
In 2010 the bidding process got fully underway. May 15 marked the official constitution of the Institutional Committee; in June, the organisational structure of Ravenna 2019 began to take form within the Culture Councillor’s Office, with the recruitment of two specific professionals charged with planning and coordinating the preparation of Ravenna’s bid; October 25 marked the first meeting of the Creative Council.
During the year, a number of public meetings were organised: on May 21, there was a meeting of the Advisory Body, on June 25 there was the second session of the Cultural Assembly, on November 15 a first meeting was held with the voluntary associations. Meanwhile, October saw the launch of the communication campaign to publicise the “Ravenna 2019″ logo.
On the international level, meetings continued to be held with past and prospective European Capitals of Culture, for the purpose of exchanging experiences, suggestions and advice for Ravenna’s candidacy: “Capitals face to face” with representatives from Pécs 2010 and Liverpool 2008 (May 29), and Marseilles 2013 and Mons 2015 (October 7).
Finally, in September and October, Ravenna’s candidacy was presented in Brussels, on the occasion of th opening of an exhibition of copies of ancient mosaics, first to the European Commission and then to the European Parliament.
In 2011 the Ravenna 2019 Office was set up within the Headquarters of the Municipality of Ravenna.
The Creative Council and the Staff continued their exploration of the major themes that will underpin the bid proposal. The identified themes were investigated and discussed in “Cinquetracce, dialogues for Ravenna’s bid” (November 3 – December 3).
Within “Cinquetracce”, a call was issued for recruiting young volunteers to help with the preparation and running of the event. More than one hundred volunteers applied for the call. Meanwhile, initiatives to divulge and discuss the project with local institutions and business and social actors continued, with a focus group on ‘Tourism and European Capital of Culture’ (February 10) and with ‘Thinking hearts of the city’ (February 28, an event aimed at school teachers, coordinators, and managers).
A participatory initiative called ‘My Ideal Docks’ was also launched, to help sketch out the profile of the city’s future docks.
To publicly explore the processes, methodologies and content of the programmes adopted by other European Capitals of Culture, the Staff organised the meetings ‘Becoming a Capital: the examples of Tallinn and Turku 2011” (October 15) and “Becoming a Capital: the examples of Marseilles 2013 and San Sebastian 2016” (October 21).
In 2011, the cities supporting Ravenna’s candidacy started up their operational activities: first, the bid proposal was divulged throughout Romagna, followed by the forming of Creative Councils (charged with involving the local cultural organisations, and helping to work out ideas for 2019) for each of the supporting cities, in Faenza (July), Forli (October), Cesena (November). A representative from each of these supporting city Committees attends the meetings of the Ravenna Committee.
On the international level, relations were established with the Bulgarian candidate cities for 2019 (March); the Staff also took part in conferences on the ‘European Capital of Culture’ programme in Brussels (March) and Sofia (May).
In August, the Staff travelled to Tallinn and Turku (European Capitals of Culture 2011) to meet with representatives of the organisations that handled the candidacies, in order to study their successful pathways.
The Staff also attended the Round Table: “European Capitals of Culture 2019. Candidacies in a journey from identity to innovation” (Assisi, World Tourism Expo of UNESCO Sites, September) and the meeting “Not only spread.. Culture and creativity move the economy” organised by the Vedrò Association (Rome, December).
The main goal for 2012 is to collect and develop the ideas, visions and concepts for the candidacy which, filling out the 5 major thematic lines already explored in the Cinquetracce meetings, will form the contents of the bid dossier. This is accomplished through an OPEN CALL for ideas, directed at the entire city and its surrounding region, from March to October.
At the same time, 15 working groups for disciplines are settled (visual arts, tourism, sport, green economy, fine arts, gender mainstreaming, journalism, museums and libraries, university and research, European dimension, interculturality, education and childhood, economy, welfare, etc.) by involving more than 300 representatives of cultural, social and economic organizations within the territory. Moreover, there are working groups in the supporting cities as well, in order to get projects for the bid representing all the Romagna landscape.
During 2012, for the first time TEST RUNS FOR 2019 are planned: events and activities in preparation for the bid, focused on pre-existing or new cultural and social initiatives, to promote a cultural path consistent with the themes laid down by Cinquetracce.
In April, a workshop is scheduled with the title “European Capital of Culture: what model for Italy and Europe?”, the first round table for discussion with other Italian candidate cities, on the themes, models, pathways and characteristics of the competition for the title, with the attendance of representatives from the Italian government, and European authorities and experts.
On the 22nd of June, there is the opening of the Ericailcane wall painting, one of the most famous street artist in the world. The setting for the opening is a new space for culture within the Darsena area, where for the first time concerts, performances, exhibitions have taken place.
From 23th to 27th of July, Piazza del Popolo hosts the event “Il Cinema in Cinque Tracce + Effetti Collaterali”: cinema is set on the main square of the city for the first time, displaying cult movies linked to the bid themes. Before the movies show, new cultural and innovative initiatives have been taken place in downtown, with the name of “Effetti collaterali”.
Last but not least, “Romagna Express 2019: il treno della candidatura in viaggio verso il 2019” is the most significant test run for 2019. In October for one week, an historical train will travel across Romagna region, by both developing contents about the European Capital of Culture programme and involving citizens in the bid process across the whole territory. Events, exhibitions, performances, dj-set, concerts and more are planned to take place in all the Romagna cities.
2013 – WORK IN PROGRESS
The first months are dedicated to meetings with schools (teachers, head teachers, students) and universities (university associations, professors, fellow researchers) to raise their awareness and to engage them in the bidding process.
The bidding dossier starts being written, summing up and reordering the work carried out in the last few years by the Staff of Ravenna 2019 and by the local people, thanks to the project ideas gathered through the Open Call and the working groups held in Ravenna and in the supporting cities of the region. The international expert Neil Peterson, who played a key role in leading Liverpool to hold the title in 2008, is also involved in writing the dossier.
On February 15th two young citizens of Ravenna start a world tour on their bikes (Magio Bike Tour), with the aim of covering, in five years, over 100.000 km in the five continents, bringing the spirit and symbol of Ravenna 2019 all over the world.
In March, Ravenna’s candidacy reaches the prestigious Italian Academy, a cultural institution of the Columbia University in New York. This setting gives the opportunity to launch the Ravenna in the world project, whose purpose is to collect traces of Ravenna in the world related to its cultural heritage, its toponymy and to everyone who, despite living abroad, is particularly attached to the city.
Meanwhile in Ravenna, the third edition of Prove Tecniche (Test runs) is presented: a programme of cultural initiatives addressed to any kind of audience accompanying the bidding process. More than thirty events take place in the Romagna area over a period of three months, not only in cultural venues, but also in unusual locations.
March is also when the agreement for cooperation with the candidate city of Matera is signed. The agreement includes joint initiatives taking place in each city to increase the visibility of both candidacies. The two cities are engaged in the co-production and exchange of shows, concerts and film festivals; they intend to intensify study tours and exchanges for high school and university students and to host a photographic exhibition concerning the earthquake in Abruzzo, organized by the candidate city of L’Aquila and realized by Gianpiero Corelli, a photographer, and Ilaria Iacoviello,a journalist, both from Ravenna. They also aim to plan an event in Brussels that should help understand the key role of culture for social cohesion and economic development in the European Union.
In April, the agreement for cultural cooperation with the candidate city of Sofia (Bulgaria) is signed. This cooperation will lead to a wide range of activities in many different areas : cultural heritage preservation, tourism development, transnational mobility of cultural operators and of works of art. Furthermore, the two cities will establish a transnational cooperation between universities, scientific and educational institutions, supporting the European Union exchanging programs (Erasmus, Comenius, Grundtvig etc.) which involve not only research fellows, professors and university students but also adults and students of all ages.
From April 19th to April 21th a unique and unprecedented event takes place in Ravenna: “Agorà 2019, let the culture speak”. During Agorà the candidacy of Ravenna and its territory is presented to the local people in more detail. Moreover, public administrators, cultural operators, artists, cultural policy experts, professors and citizens have the opportunity to meet and discuss their project ideas concerning Ravenna.