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Publicerat 28 september, 2015

The resulting effects of Umeå2014

Umeå can now enjoy a variety of positive effects as the result of Umeå2014. These effects include a broader range of cultural activities with new festivals, new organizers, new expertise, a continued influx of audiences that results in new jobs, and a Sami culture that now claims its rightful position. Ten years after the municipal council’s decision to apply to become European Capital of Culture, our politicians can look back on a successful Capital of Culture year and can note that the year was also a financial success.

The premiere showing of the film ”Umeå — Keeping the Momentum”, with special music composed by Morgan Ågren from Umeå, took place in connection with Umeå2014’s presentation to the municipal council.

“I am proud that we were brave enough to make the decision to begin the European Capital of Culture initiative ten years ago. Co-creation has been a powerful method in making this year possible and strengthening culture in Umeå, and has contributed greatly to advancing Umeå’s position as the cultural capital of Europe”, says Marie-Louise Rönnmark, chair of the Capital of Culture Preparation Committee and of the Umeå Municipal Council.

After ten years of preparation and the implementation of the Capital of Culture year, it is clear that cultural offerings have expanded with both new festivals and organizers. Between 2005 and 2015, the annual municipal support for festivals increased from SEK 2.7 million to SEK 6.5 million, an increase of 143 per cent.

“Investing in the Capital of Culture year not only contributed to a richer range of cultural activities in 2014, it has also strengthened culture in the long term and made it possible for more associations and festivals to develop”, says Fredrik Lindberg, Artistic Director of Umeå2014 and Cultural Affairs officer for Umeå municipality.

Financing goals and surplus

Of Umeå2014’s total funding of SEK 455.3 million, the Municipal Culture Committee had 41 per cent at its disposal. The rest of the budget was covered through co-financing, which was an integral part of Umeå2014’s organizational model and approach. The Capital of Culture application reported a budget of SEK 410 million, which means that funding targets were exceeded by SEK 45.3 million.

At the end of the year, the surplus for the Capital of Culture project was about SEK 4.8 million of the allocated funds out of a total of SEK 186.3 million (working capital). Hopefully, this surplus can be returned to the stakeholders who have helped to create much of the value during the Capital of Culture year.

Results and evaluations

Over 90 per cent of the project owners integrated gender equality, accessibility, and diversity into their projects. Approximately 80 per cent of project owners say that the projects had a positive impact on the environment/sustainability. Eighty-six per cent of the projects believe that the year contributed to expanded development of their organization.

During the Capital of Culture year, Sami culture also advanced its positions. In the project evaluations, forty-five per cent of project owners noted that they changed their view of Sami culture.

The Capital of Culture project has been studied by Umeå University’s research programme ”Culture and Cities” and has generated a number of degree projects and student reports. Umeå2014 was also evaluated by PwC, which is now publishing its final report. Recently, the European Commission’s final report on Umeå’s and Riga’s European Capital of Culture year was also published.

Benny Marcel, now the CEO of the Nordic Culture Fund and previous general director of the Swedish Arts Council, was present during the report to the Municipal Council and served as the government’s observer during the Capital of Culture process.

“It is very interesting that Umeå2014 and the idea of co-creation also had an impact nationally and internationally, not least through increased cooperation among national, regional and local stakeholders, which led to expanded and new networks”, says Benny Marcel. “Although it is not currently possible to completely read the long-term impact of all the efforts, the far-sighted policy conducted in Umeå to promote the arts and culture created entirely new opportunities. There are now more Umeå-based stakeholders than in the past”.

In 2014, Riga was also a European Capital of Culture. Riga has a population that is approximately six times larger than Umeå’s. The results show both Capitals of Culture increased participation in cultural events and, in many cases, Umeå achieved almost the same numbers as or higher than Riga. More than 800,000 people visited Umeå2014 events during the Capital of Culture year, and ticket sales at the major ticketing agents in Umeå increased by 39 per cent in 2014, compared to the years 2009 through 2013.

International interest was significant before and during the Capital of Culture year. Media visibility around Sweden and the world was significant with more than 2 million unique views registered. Cultural life is the primary driver of interest, and this has also increased interest in visiting Umeå. The PR value is conservatively estimated to total SEK 380 million for the period 1 November 2013 through 31 January 2015.

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