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Umeå in Sweden and Riga in Latvia are the European Capitals of Culture in 2014

Marie-Louise Rönnmark and Nils Ushakovs: ”We are getting ourselves ready for a fantastic Capital of European Culture year”

Umeå in Sweden and Riga in Latvia will be the European Capitals of Culture 2014. The EU Council of Ministers decided on Monday, 10 May, in accordance with the international selection panel’s recommendation. With that sounded the formal starting shot for the cities’ Capital of Culture venture and the exchanges between Umeå and Riga as regards 2014, of which we have only seen the beginning.

”The European Capital of Culture 2014 involves long-range concentration on culture as a dynamic growth factor in our regions of Umeå and Riga. And in many different ways cultural cooperation between the two cities can lead to results,” explained Marie-Louise Rönnmark, Mayor of Umeå.

“Culture has a crucial role in the development of a city, can lead to improvements of the citizens’ standard of living, and, as the examples from other countries suggest, culture can be a stimulus for economic activity,” says Nils Ushakovs, Mayor of Riga. “In the framework of the cultural programme we will have an opportunity to address issues important to Latvia and the entire Europe. The Capital of Culture project is significant also in connection with the Latvian Presidency of the European Union in 2015.”

Together the Capitals of Culture can offer more

The European Capital of Culture year means that Umeå and Riga will step up their cooperation that is already in progress as regards 2014. Joint activities and projects will be carried out. The European Capital of Culture year will even now involve joining forces in new, dynamic ventures that benefit both regions. It is also possible that cooperation in trade and industry can be developed. 2014 will be the starting shot for enduring cooperation between Umeå and Riga. The recently opened air route between the two cities also creates favourable conditions for joint activities.

“We have seen that cross-border cooperation between NorrlandsOperan and South Africa has resulted in new incentives that have enriched our region,” states Marie-Louise Rönnmark.

”Open Source” in Umeå and “Force Majeure” in Riga

Projects and programs for activities for 2014 will be developed with considerable transparency. In Umeå, the catchword is “Open Source” –  which means that cultural actions will be developed through the joint efforts of forces in the region with support from the opportunities that the European Capital of Culture year involves, as well as the structure and platforms that the Capital of Culture organization can provide.

For the title of its 2014 programme, Riga has chosen a term commonly used in law, force majeure, quite adequately characterising state of affairs today in the world. Through its 2014 Force Majeure programme Riga aims to strengthen the belief that culture can change lives of people and cities towards the better, culture can become an instrument of salvation, a survival kit, a springboard for new and bold ideas, as a light at the end of the tunnel.

”Not only will Umeå and Riga organize programs with cultural activities that emphasize the specific culture and cultural heritage of the cities and regions, but also that which Europeans have in common. It will be incredibly fun and exciting to explore the European dimension in our cultural life together with Riga,” explains Marie-Louise Rönnmark, mayor of Umeå.

”Talking about the social dimension of Riga's proposal, at least three main aspects should be mentioned: culture as an instrument of healing socioeconomic problems of society living through economic crisis; iniatiatives for ECoC 2014 as a provocator of serious long-term city council decisions regarding city infrastructure and cultural infrastracture in particular; 2014 as a part of strategy of Riga aiming at decentralisation of culture events and services,” underscores Nil Ushakov, mayor of Riga.

The EU Council of Ministers made the formal decision to designate the European Capital of Culture. Nowadays two Capitals of Culture are designated each year, where one city represents a new EU member country. The Ministers met on Monday, 10 May, in Brussels to finalize the designation of Umeå in Sweden and Riga in Latvia as the European Capitals of Culture 2014.

Further information

Marie-Louise Rönnmark
Mayor of Umeå
Phone: +46 70 655 64 84

Fredrik Lindegren
Artistic Director Umeå 2014
Phone: +46 70 603 25 19

Nils Ushakovs
Mayor of Riga
Phone: +371 67026100

Diana Civle
Head of RIGA – 2014 office
Phone: +371 26496644





Mattias Mitz

Mattias Mitz

Presskontakt Press Officer +46 70 495 51 34

Umeå, motor i norra Sveriges främsta tillväxtregion

Umeå kommun har 13 000 medarbetare och är regionens största arbetsgivare. Verksamheterna har medborgarfokus, öppenhet, tillit och en strävan att ständigt förbättra kommunens service. Umeå är en av Sveriges mest växande städer. Här bor 133 000 personer, och kommunens mål är att nå 200 000 invånare 2050. I Umeå finns två universitet, ett livskraftigt näringsliv och ett attraktivt utbud av kultur och fritid. Här finns också västvärldens snabbaste bredband.