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Trevor Davies

European City of Culture 2017

Aarhus has been designated as the European Capital of Culture 2017. The city’s identity and arts and culture will therefore be pivotal in the coming years in Aarhus. The preparation requires long-term planning, substantial investment and the involvement of the entire city.

European Capital of Culture (ECOC) was initiated in 1985, and since then more than 40 cities have hosted the project. All of them have experienced a number of positive short as well as long-term effects: Improvements to the cultural infrastructure, an enhanced image and brand, a permanent increase in the number of international visitors as well as increased local audiences for culture.
We’re not on our own! We will be doing this backed by The Central Denmark Region and 18 other local authorities in the region. With more than 1,2 million residents we are aiming for a big splash!

We use culture to rethink the city

The choice of the theme of ”rethink” has been made to underline the sense of radical change cities are challenged with in a world with multiple global challenges which demand  rethinking – redesigning - reconnecting – rebuilding, and on many levels: Urban infrastructure transport, energy and resources, climate, cultural co-existence, democracy, diversity, sustainability, social polarization, economic and financial models. 

On the more local level Aarhus and the Region is already committed to rethink:


  • Housing big wind energy companies we are aware of the climate and energy challenge.
  • With the complete redevelopment of the largest and the poorest social housing neighborhood in Denmark, we are trying to combat the results of system planning and social segregation of the past 40 years.
  • With the building of a new multimedia library in the harbour we are trying to kick new life in to the harbour and also integrate new knowledge sharing and open source innovation environments with old fashioned books.
  • With a total of more than 10 new cultural centers in the region we are looking at rethinking sports halls, community centres, schools, theatres, museums and much more. 


A process leading to 2017

Our vision of Aarhus as the ECOC 2017 is not just as one off events, but as a process which will challenge and change, stimulate and strengthen the city and the region from a number of perspectives: Artistic, cultural, urban redevelopment, social and integration, business and tourism - national and international.
We are involving local, cultural, educational and business communities, citizens and local decision makers. 

The Process

We have already been through an exciting process of engagement and consultation, and we have also completed a number of studies of the cultural sector and the creative business sector. Literally thousands have been involved in workshops, seminars and think tanks.

Our programme will include around 200 projects and we are aiming at a total public of some 5 million for all events.  Ambitious yes but not unrealistic! After all, more than half a million came to our "Sculptures by The Sea” exhibition in 2009 and this will be a core biennale project towards 2017.


From 2013-2016

We are not waiting for 2017. We will be initiating programmes from 2013-2016, and these will include both development programs but also a series of public events.

Internationally, we’ll be inviting European networks to use our platform, inviting European producers to work with us, asking European museums to exchange exhibitions, offering European artists to take time out and take part in the many residencies we are setting up.


The Organization

Aarhus 2017 has been established as a private foundation with a board of 13 members and the Mayor of Aarhus as chairman. An administrative director and a programme director will be appointed early in 2013. The 2017 secretariat will for the time being remain situated at Godsbanen next to the Cultural Department.


Ib Christensen

Ib Christensen

Head of Department

Telefon: +45 51 57 66 10



Opdateret: 07.8.2013

Afdeling: Mayor's Department

Send kommentar: Communication

Telefon: 89 40 22 23


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