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Matera to be 2019 European Capital of Culture in Italy

materaBRUSSELS, October 18, 2014- The selection panel of independent experts responsible for assessing the Italian cities competing to be European Capital of Culture in 2019 has recommended that Matera should be awarded the title. The other five cities short-listed after the initial pre-selection round in November 2013 were Cagliari, Lecce, Perugia, Ravenna and Siena. The formal designation of Matera by the EU's Council of Ministers is expected to take place next year.

Androulla Vassiliou, the European Commissioner responsible for culture, stated: "I congratulate Matera on its successful bid. The competition for the title in Italy was one of the strongest ever, with 21 initial contenders narrowed down to six finalists. This number is a testimony of the immense popularity of this European Union initiative. I am confident that Matera will attract more visitors from Europe and all over the world to discover the city, its history and the cultural diversity which is one of strengths of our continent. I am convinced that the title will bring Matera and its surrounding area significant long-term cultural, economic and social benefits, as we have seen with previous European Capitals of Culture."

In accordance with the Decision of the European Parliament and the EU's Council of Ministers, which sets out the criteria for the European Capital of Culture, Bulgaria and Italy are the two Member States which will share the title in 2019. The final selection in Bulgaria took place in September, with the panel recommending that Plovdiv should be awarded the title.

The criteria state that cities should prepare a cultural programme with a strong European dimension, which fosters the participation of citizens in the city, its neighbourhood and the whole country. The programme must have a lasting impact and contribute to the long-term cultural and social development of the city.

The European dimension is reflected in the chosen themes and in the way events in the programme are organised. Cooperation between cultural operators in different EU countries is encouraged.

The process for selecting a European Capital of Culture begins with a pre-selection phase after which an initial shortlist of bidding cities is drawn up. The final selection takes place nine months later. The city chosen by the panel is then officially designated by the EU's Council of Ministers.

The panel assessing the cities is made up of 13 independent cultural experts - six appointed by the MemberState and seven by the European institutions.

The members of the panel appointed by the European institutions currently are:

- Appointed by the European Commission: Suzana Žilič Fišer (Slovenia), professor and head of media communications at the University of Maribor and Director General of Maribor – European Capital of Culture 2012; Ulrich Fuchs (Germany), deputy artistic director of Linz 2009 and Marseille-Provence 2013.

- Appointed by the Council: Anu Kivilo (Estonia), managing director of the International Arvo Pärt Centre; Norbert Riedl (Austria), head of department for cultural affairs at the Austrian Federal Ministry for Education, the Arts and Culture.

- Appointed by the European Parliament: Jordi Pardo (Spain), responsible for cultural projects in the field of international culture; Steve Green (United Kingdom), who has an extensive experience of international cultural relations and the role of culture and languages in society with EUNIC (European Network of National Cultural Institutes) and the British Council.

- Appointed by the Committee of the Regions: Elisabeth Vitouch (Austria), who represents the Commission for Culture and Education of the Committee of the Regions and is a member of the ViennaCity government.

Following Umeå (Sweden) and Riga (Latvia) this year, Mons (Belgium) and Plzen (Czech Republic) will be European Capitals of Culture in 2015, Wrocław (Poland) and Donastia San Sebastián (Spain) in 2016, Aarhus (Denmark) and Paphos (Cyprus) in 2017 and Valletta (Malta) and Leeuwarden (Netherlands) in 2018.

For more information: http://ec.europa.eu/culture/tools/actions/capitals-culture_en.htm

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European Commission, Brussels

Photo source: Matera: The Sassi and Rupestrian Churches, www.italia.it

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