"It's a unique chance to position Kaunas on European map. That people of Europe would know about your city," said Hanns Dietrich Schmidt who worked on the successful capital of culture project in the Ruhr region in Germany.
In their words, the title of European Capital of Culture is a great opportunity for less known cities to get in focus and break earlier stereotypes.
Neil Peterson, an expert involved in the Liverpool European Capital of Culture project, said they had to fight the stereotype that the city is unsafe known for its crime rate and unemployment rate. Success of the project transformed Liverpool into one of the cities in Great Britain with largest tourist flows.
"It was something around the creation of a narrative, a new narrative, a story for the city that everyone can relate to. (…) I think the story that could emerge about Kaunas – it seems to me to be quite a proud city, a Lithuanian city, I think. And what does that mean and how can that identity come out – the basketball team, what people really belong to," Peterson told BNS.
Speaking about what is the most important for Kaunas, the consultants emphasized that the city should work out a long-term strategy, cultural events and include existing objects and successful cultural events, as well as organize new events dedicated for the European Capital of Culture.
"I think there's also very interesting how to make more use of the river – the rivers here, which are very special, I think. We did the same in Liverpool – not only just through the capital of culture program, through the city strategy, when we found that we wanted to reconnect ourselves with the water. Things like that starts to really bring the city alive to its people," he added.
The European Commission has approved a list of countries eligible for the title – Lithuania and Luxembourg were assigned the year 2022. In 2016, Lithuania will hold a contest of cities aspiring to become the European Capital of Culture.
Lithuania's capital Vilnius was the European Capital of Culture in 2009, the year that brought a major economic crisis to the country and drawing controversial responses to the program.
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