December 15, 2010

RUHR.2010 takes stock

"Still-Life" / Photo: RUHR.2010/Matthias Duschner

"Still-Life" / Photo: RUHR.2010/Matthias Duschner

What has been achieved? What has been learnt? What is to be done? The title is moving on, but the Ruhr will remain a cultural metropolis. Even before the sold-out finale on December 18, and after 5,500 events, the feedback is positive. "The idea of a Capital of Culture is a Europe that is truly lived – for the people and thanks to them," explained José Manuel Barroso, President of the European Commission.

"This spirit pervaded the Ruhr for one whole year." Minister of State Bernd Neumann, Premier of the State of North Rhine - Westphalia Hannelore Kraft and the leading representatives of the towns, cities and districts also deemed the European Capital of Culture an "outstanding success". The overall opinion: the title was good for the Ruhr; the collaborative effort involved paid off extremely well."The most important outcome is that RUHR.2010 enjoyed huge popularity among the population," commented Fritz Pleitgen, Chairman of RUHR.2010 GmbH. Indeed, 10.5 million visitors attended the Capital of Culture events. "The people of the Rhine and the Ruhr were not just spectators, they also became participants," added General Manager Oliver Scheytt. "We inspired their minds and won their hearts." Moreover, the number of tourists rose significantly (by 13.4%, of which 18.1% were from outside Germany) compared with the same period of the previous year.

RUHR.2010 thus fulfilled its own pledge, namely to serve as a European Capital of Culture for all. A mix of appealing shared experiences and cutting-edge, high-calibre culture enabled it to satisfy this goal. The Capital of Culture year must, however, also be seen as a strong statement in favour of the polycentric metropolis that is the Ruhr. Each town and city was able to strengthen its identity, particularly during the Local Heroes weeks. At the same time, all towns and cities came together to realise joint projects that enjoyed huge success: examples included Odyssey Europe, the RuhrArtMuseums alliance, the Henze Project, Culture Canal, pottfiction, Murder on the Hellweg, Shaft Signs, !SING – DAY OF SONG, Still-Life A40/B1, Symphony of a Thousand, MELEZ, Ruhrlights and the Global Young Faculty.

With strong, fresh images and vibrant energy, the Ruhr has risen up valiantly against outdated and damaging perceptions. New concepts were put forward and initiatives implemented with the aim of spotlighting the rich but hitherto unsung diversity and cultural strength present within the Ruhr Metropolis. While the Local Heroes weeks made a lasting impact on the towns and cities, TWINS brought strong European dimensions into play. The European Commission's catalogue of obligations was also satisfied. One third of the programme was aimed at children and young people. The requirement for events concerned with social cohesion was fulfilled in detail through projects serving the socially disadvantaged, and by means of social commitment initiatives. In this regard, the unfailing dedication and hard work of the volunteers cannot be praised highly enough: untiring, intelligent and friendly, they were the ideal ambassadors for their home region.

On top of this, RUHR.2010 saw the establishment of valuable networks, particularly that of Capital of Culture officials – thereby providing a solid basis for the ongoing development of the Ruhr Metropolis. And in place of long-standing rivalry and self-interested policy-making, collaboration between the towns and cities was a model example of an entirely cooperative approach.

In partnership with acclaimed cultural institutions and via its own projects, RUHR.2010 provided conclusive evidence that the previously underestimated Ruhr Metropolis is a location for top-class culture, and that it is perceived by inhabitants and visitors alike as a cultural destination. The list includes exhibitions such as "The most beautiful museum in the World", "Images of a Capital", "AufRuhr", "Heroes", "Ruhr Views" and EMSCHER ART 2010, not to mention the Ruhrmuseum, Odyssey Europe, Henze's opera "Gisela" and his symphony "Opfergang".

"We wanted to use a diversity of sometimes surprising events to serve as a beacon for the Capital of Culture. We wanted simply to ensure that this unique and characterful metropolis gets the respect it deserves," reported Fritz Pleitgen. "It's my impression that we achieved a great deal in this respect." The media response mirrored this sentiment, with the Ruhr enjoying more attention in the public eye than ever before. Indeed, not for nothing has RUHR.2010 received the accolade "Cultural Brand of the Year".

The European Capital of Culture has many repercussions – on the cultural economy and on cultural tourism. "Culture pays off," reiterates Fritz Pleitgen to all those politicians who, when cost-cutting discussions are tabled, turn their attention to the already pitiful culture budgets. Not only was the company’s budget of 61.5 million euros adhered to, measures including infrastructure investments to the tune of some 500 million euros were also actioned.

Oliver Scheytt commented: "By getting residents involved, the European Capital of Culture has made them identify with the Ruhr as a cultural metropolis. Cultural establishments and artists and their audiences have laid the foundations for success. Politicians now have an unparalleled opportunity to use the changed awareness of the Ruhr Metropolis to make a lasting impact. RUHR.2010 has demonstrated how networks designed to promote new ways of thinking and acting with respect to producing art and communicating culture can operate. This in turn means that we serve as a model for Europe and future European Capitals of Culture."

The tragic events of the Loveparade cast a shadow over the year. "How a European Capital of Culture deals with a catastrophe of this nature is also used as a yardstick," said Fritz Pleitgen. He commented that even without direct involvement in the events in Duisburg, there was still a moral shared responsibility for what happened. Not all wishes were fulfilled. The "World of Religions" exhibition would have tied in extremely well with current debate. Equally, the so-called "Invisible City" remains a challenge for the future. After all, RUHR.2010 will not end on December 31, 2010. There are no less than three further prestigious projects from the Capital of Culture programme that will be completed during the first half of next year: the Küppersmühle expansion, the Angerpark Landmark and the Rehberger Bridge.

Linz, meanwhile, provides a salutary warning. Following a highly successful year, the 2009 European Capital of Culture is now suffering from a 15% decline in tourism. The event's long-term impact is questionable. What course should the Ruhr follow in future? RUHR.2010 can only make recommendations, namely: to continue focusing on the alliance of the Federal state, the Ruhr Regional Association and the business sector. This alliance has given the company the necessary strength and freedom of movement to develop and implement a powerful programme. It was only in this way that RUHR.2010 could give a voice to all 53 towns and cities.

Media contact:

RUHR.2010 GmbH
Daniela Ott
Phone: +49 (0)201 888 2096


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