Secretary of State, Tessa Jowell, named Liverpool as the UK's nomination for the European Capital of Culture in 2008 at a press conference on 4 June.
What is Capital of Culture?
The European Capital of Culture programme is run by the European Union (EU) and is the successor to the European City of Culture programme, which finishes next year.
The purpose of the title is not simply to highlight existing cultural excellence, but to encourage cities to develop and innovate in the cultural field. It will be an opportunity to show that culture is central to the life of a city, and demonstrate its contribution to regeneration, social inclusion, education and business.
The European Capital of Culture scheme also aims to promote European cultural co-operation and understanding, and therefore requires a city to mount a programme of European scale and significance.
Under the programme each Member State has been assigned a year for which to nominate a city to hold the title. The UK will host the European Capital of Culture in 2008 and the DCMS was responsible for managing the competition to select the UK's nomination. The competition was launched in September 2000. Twelve cities bid to be the European Capital of Culture:
Brighton and Hove
Canterbury and East Kent
Inverness and the Highlands
How was the winner chosen?
An independent advisory panel chaired by Sir Jeremy Isaacs visited each city and examined their bids. In October last year, the panel chose six cities to go through to the final stage of the competition – Birmingham, Bristol, Cardiff, Liverpool, Newcastle/Gateshead and Oxford.
For the final stage of the competition, the panel carried out more detailed work on the bids from the shortlisted cities. Liverpool beat off strong competition from the other cities to win the UK nomination. More information about the selection criteria, shortlisted cities and Liverpool's winning bid can be found in the panel's report on the short-listed applications for the UK nomination for European Capital of Culture 2008.
During 2004, a panel whose members are nominated by the EU institutions will assess the nomination and report to the Council of Ministers, which will formally designate the city as European Capital of Culture 2008.
What will happen to the other bidding cities?
To recognise and celebrate the merits of their bids, all the cities shortlisted by the panel will be designated 'Centres of Culture' for 2008. This is a title given by the UK Government and has no formal standing in the EU.
Additionally, Tessa Jowell has pledged to encourage the development of a cultural programme, encompassing all twelve cities that bid for the nomination. More details about this will be available later this year.
The members of the independent advisory panel were:
Sir Jeremy Isaacs
TV producer and broadcaster (chair)
Sue MacGregor OBE
Broadcaster and journalist (deputy chair)
Dame Judith Mayhew-Jonas
Corporation of London (deputy chair)
Barry Douglas OBE
Art historian and Businessman
Royal Parks Advisory Board Chair
Journalist and Writer
Tessa Sanderson OBE
Olympian and Vice Chair of Sport England
Journalist and Writer
Professor Peter Stead
Journalist and Broadcaster
Previous holders of the title European City of Culture are:
2000 – nine cities were chosen European Cities of Culture in the Year 2000, these were: Avignon, Bergen, Bologna, Brussels, Helsinki, Kraków, Prague, Reykjavik and Santiago de Compostela.
2001 Rotterdam and Oporto
2002 Brugge and Salamanca
2004 Genoa and Lille
Countries to host the European Capital of Culture: