Europe’s new cultural capitals take the 2019 baton
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Europe’s new cultural capitals take the 2019 baton

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The programmes show how these cities envisage their own future and that of Europe
– Tibor Navracsics

The cities of Plovdiv in Bulgaria and Matera in Italy have taken the title for 2019 as culture'>European Capitals of Culture, with Plovdiv the first in Bulgaria's history to ever earn the prestigious honour.

Started in 1985, the European Capital of Culture initiative gives cities opportunities to change their image, attract more tourists and rethink their development through culture. The European Commission, which bestows the award, claims there are long-term beneficial impacts, culturally, socially and economically for those cities and regions selected.

Plovdiv and Matera take over from Valletta in Malta and Leeuwarden in The Netherlands, which held the titles in 2018. Plovdiv has put together a programme of 300 projects under the motto "Together", covering the city and the whole South Central region of Bulgaria.

Festivals and community-based projects linked to Plovdiv’s history and cultural heritage are planned, including exhibitions and joint theatre productions with the Western Balkans and the Roma and Turkish communities.

Matera’s programme – titled Open Future – will have a special focus on social and cultural inclusion and collaborative innovation. Highlights include Ars Excavandi, a contemporary look at the history and culture of subterranean architecture, Re-reading Renaissance, a journey through the artistic past of Basilicata and Apulia, and the first open-air performance of the opera Cavalleria Rusticana, in cooperation with the Teatro San Carlo.

"The programmes of Plovdiv and Matera show how these cities envisage their own future and that of Europe, whilst celebrating their extraordinary centuries-old heritage," said Tibor Navracsics, European Commissioner for Education, Culture, Youth and Sport. "Both cities will help ensure a long-term impact of last year’s successful European Year of Cultural Heritage, which has demonstrated how culture can transform our cities and regions for the better."

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Plovdiv in Bulgaria and Italy’s Matera have taken over as the 2019 European Capitals of Culture, with the former being the first ever Bulgarian city to be chosen for the high profile title.
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