Going for the finish line: local and international cooperation

Eger is in cooperation with 11 surrounding settlements and the Bükk National Park in the tender to win the title of „European Capital of Culture 2023”. The deadline for submissions was December 20, 2017. Eger’s tender was put together after a long preparatory period, drawing on the experience of local and international cultural forums and workshops. Lajos Koltai, artistic director of the tender, coordinated the efforts of the fine art, music, film and architectural teams to generate the tender’s artistic mission statement; Eger’s submission incorporates several local and international joint ventures. An excellent bid has been produced which is currently being translated; on completion it will be presented to the members of the international jury. The 12-person body of experts, will convene at the start of next year to pre-select the cities which may compete in the final selection process taking place in the second half of 2018. The winners will be announced at the end of next year.



The last stage of the tender calls for the initial efforts at cooperation of the preparatory stages to be made official. László Habis, the Mayor of Eger, signed the document of joint preparation for the tender together with the 11 civic leaders of the participating the regional settlements in Egerszalók on November 27. These settlements in the 2023 tender are: Andornaktálya, Bélapátfalva, Demjén, Egerszalók, Felsőtárkány, Maklár, Noszvaj, Novaj, Ostoros, Szarvaskő and Szilvásvárad.

Besides Eger’s more than half a million nights of hospitality annually, the 11 partner towns boast some one million such nights in addition to this, highlighted László Habis, Eger’s Mayor.

Eger’s splendid cultural and historical treasures, together with the marvellous natural assets of the towns surrounding the regional centre are a big draw for visitors. The Mayor of Eger added that the city had signed a cooperative agreement with Eszterházy Károly University as well as with most national cultural institutes and aims to also work with its twin towns abroad in the interest of success.



Ildikó Martonné Adler, Deputy Mayor who is the tender coordinator, has voiced a need for cooperation if the participants are to each share the benefits. At the commencement of the tender process, Eger’s General Assembly set its sights higher than merely formulating a cultural strategy, announcing one of both cultural and community building instead. The main aim was articulated as the cultivation of a discerning audience for cultural values. In addition to the many charms of the city of Eger, the region itself also represents a valuable asset: when it comes to cultural tourism, this area offers enough to keep visitors satisfied for several weeks.

Cooperation with the Directorate of the Bükk National Park
Mayor László Habis and Kálmánné Rónai, director of the Directorate of the Bükk National Park signed the cooperation agreement on November 28.

Prior to signing, director Kálmánné Rónai emphasised: The city of Eger and the Directorate of the Bükk National Park are continuously liaising with each other, the avenues of cooperation have been established. The National Park is headquartered in Eger, participates in the life of the local community and that of the region. However, going beyond the scope of the operation, several further fields of endeavour also link the city and the directorate, which functions as a budgetary body.



Mayor László Habis added that the volume of work between the Local Government and the Directorate of the Bükk National Park has increased considerably; visiting the park, town representatives familiarised themselves with activities linked to the national park. He stressed: Eger aims to be a prime target for tourism, which necessitates the mapping and showcasing of its natural assets. The Directorate of the Bükk National Park is engaged in a thorough, determined effort to affect developments at several locations in the area which will showcase natural assets as genuine attractions. Eger and the surrounding settlements also have a stake in the success of this endeavour.

Eger – besides focussing on its extant attractions – coordinates efforts to showcase such assets in its efforts to attain the status of a prominent touristic region that have already been government-approved or otherwise endorsed. One of these is the sum of over 13 billion forints, made available to Eger courtesy of TOP, The Area and Settlement Development Operative Program; this will fund the renovation of the Prince-Provost’s palace, the reopening of the Helyőrség Community Centre, and General János Lenkey’s birthplace. Renovation of the Serbian Greek orthodox Rác church or of Eszterházy square also feature on this list; the town is growing in assets, said László Habis. All this strengthens the case for Eger, as part of the ECoC tender.



He added: the Government’s Modern Cities Programme also supports our bid to claim the prestigious title of “European Capital of Culture 2023”. Eger’s odds are further improved by its direct motorway link, the construction of the intermodal hub and other transport development features.

The castle’s development is a similar issue as the work is already under way: both the Modern Cities Programme and the National Castle and Fort Programme (GINOP) provide a fitting framework to enable Eger to attain the rank of ECoC city and successfully run for the title of the European year of Culture in 2023.

The above are given further force by the decision on the part of the government which names the Eger Archdiocese as a beneficiary. As a result of this, the Basilica and the Archbishop’s Palace are both to be renovated.

Our efforts to elevate Eger to the status of a celebrated tourist destination incorporates both new developments and the showcasing of existing assets. Eger’s ECoC2023 tender focusses less on investments and more on assets. Our main task is to present an authentic view of the cultural assets in Eger which are worthy of recognition across Europe – said the Mayor of Eger.

Kövessen minket a Facebookon!

Eger “EKF 2023” (ECOC2023) pályázatának hivatalos Facebook oldalán naponta követheti az eseményeket, híreket, aktualitásokat.


The joint visit of Eger and Leeds to Aarhus, Europe’s current Capital of Culture

The Danish ECoC city invited Eger as the sole Hungarian candidate for a professional meeting.

Botond Rázsi, Deputy Mayor of Eger, took part in a formal discussion in Aarhus, the current Capital of Culture in the middle of September. The workshop, where Finnish, French, Basque, English and Irish representatives were also present, was dedicated to the tender of “European Capital of Culture” and the sharing of the Danish ECoC city’s experiences of the role.

Eger, in its capacity as candidate for “European Capital of Culture 2023” was invited to the discussion by the town currently holding the title of “ECoC”. The event was also attended by the representative of the English city of Leeds, also a candidate for the title of ECoC in 2023. We have mentioned the connection between Leeds and Eger many times already: the two cities have forged strong links while working on the European Capital of Culture programme.

– Now – in the wake of several online conferences and face-to-face meetings – the invitation on Aarhus’ part was the cue for a joint discussion of the aims and possibilities of winning the ECoC title as well as of European culture – declared Botond Rázsi, Deputy Mayor of Eger. Former holders of the ECoC title also spoke at the conference, as did towns who had already won the tender, as well as those who had run, failed to win, but which nonetheless remain open to cultural cooperation. In tandem with representatives of the Directorate General for Education and Culture of the European Commission, they also emphasised the importance of the displaying of the European dimension in tenders as well as of regional cooperation. In addition, all parties suggested that the cities in the running prepare a “Plan B” in case their applications don’t win, as this would signal their commitment to the cause.

The Deputy Mayor also revealed that the meeting in Denmark was organised by the “LIKE city network”, featuring participants from 9 nations, with Eger being the sole one from Hungary.

Eger’s application born under a starry sky, in the shadow of legends

Eger is running for the title of “European Capital of Culture” again; the official documentation was dispatched on May 9th to the State Secretariat for Culture at the Ministry of Human Resources. In Eger, we kicked off the ECoC2023 programme simultaneously with celebrating Europe Day, a stimulating range of entertainment options kept all in a sunny mood despite the gloomy weather: local children gave a wonderful rendition of Somewhere in Europe, as well as performing well-known melodies by Zoltán Kodály. Pillars of the community and artists contributing to the ECoC2023 tender held forth at a press conference highlighting the twin concepts underpinning Eger’s approach to the tender: light and film.



Eger is a bewitching city in the heart of Europe, where traditional European values, intermingling with a multitude of different cultural influences, have been palpably present for centuries. The heroic message of the castle and 1552, immortalised in Gárdonyi’s splendid novel – the Big Read of Hungary – puts Eger into the heart of every Hungarian. Eger’s historical, cultural and architectural treasures place it on a par with any European city. The regional centre ran for the ECoC 2010 title in 2004, but was inched out at the last minute by Pécs; even so, Eger was widely hailed as a worthy candidate. Now we are poised to acquire this prestigious title and take the bull by the horns, as it were – exclaimed Mayor László Habis.


Members of Eger’s cultural life given another round of updates

Another professional forum linked to the ECoC2023 tender was hosted on March 16th, 2017. Eger’s Local Government invited representatives of all institutions and associations devoted to art and culture in Eger as well as of Eszterházy Károly University and the Eger Archdiocese to the lavish assembly hall in the City Hall. The city’s decision makers, independent artists and artisans, and members of the press were invited, too.



Attendees were informed of the details of the tender and Eger’s plans. Deputy Mayor Ildikó Adler Martonné announced that the Kossuth prize-holding cinematographer Lajos Koltai will be spearheading efforts in the art section of the city’s tender application. One of the highlights of the meeting came when the UK city of Leeds joined the proceedings online, as 2023 will see two cities, one from Hungary and one from Britain currently hold the title of European Capital of Culture. Leeds is perhaps the most active of the British candidates; we have already had a chance to meet them at the first ECoC forum in 2016 in Pécs.



The second highlight of the forum came courtesy of the current ECoC: this year, the twin title holders are Aarhus in Denmark and Paphos in Cyprus. This small town in the western part of Cyprus held its opening ceremony at the end of January 2017, which was also attended by Ildikó Somody, a television editor and host from Eger. It was her who reported on proceedings and the gist of Paphos’ ECoC mission statement.

Meeting with the heads of the surrounding settlements

The strategic thinking that’s held sway thus far is to continue with the fine-tuning of details. We held a meeting with the heads of the surrounding towns on March 1st, 2017, at which numerous creative ideas were put forward in the spirit of cooperation and joint success.

The tender is announced

State Secretariat for Culture at the Ministry of Human Resources announced the “European Capital of Culture 2023” tender on February 20, 2017.

From the publication of “ECoC2023”, ten months are available for the preparation of Hungarian-language materials for the first round. This is then translated and the finished document is completed with a design that befits Eger’s values and image. The prepared material is then evaluated by a 12-person international jury after which, having received feedback, the cities invited to round two have another 9-10 months of work ahead of them: the integration of the jury’s suggestions and the assembly of the final tender package. The decision as to which Hungarian or British cities may hold the title of European Capital of Culture in 2023 is to be made in the summer of 2018.

Mayor László Habis stressed that only genuine teamwork can lead to success in a tender of this scale; the basis of this is achieved through and faith in Eger’s assets. Anyone joining in the effort will be enriched with memories to be treasured for a lifetime, as they will be a part of a true creative effort. We are counting on the artists and all professionals working in Eger’s cultural sphere, and welcome any and all suggestions from the local citizens, too.

The Local Government is not aiming to draft an investment-based tender. The goal is to create one brimming with varied activities that build on Eger’s colourful, rich assets and which is endorsed by as many people as possible.

Mayor László Habis:

“I’m convinced that the cultural assets of our city need to be brought into focus. Two thoughts by György Kepes lend more force to this notion: the city needs to be viewed as a work of art, and we have to showcase the areas where culture and science intersect, such as the world of light art in Eger. Besides the performing arts, music and fine art, we also value filmmaking: we are proud of György Illés’ art and vision and of the fact that his noted and successful student, Lajos Koltai also maintains ties with Eger; he has been open to cooperation, too.

We need a tender of European scope to succeed and I believe our odds are good on that: Eger’s cultural heritage is a blend of historical assets, customs assimilated from several cultures, and a multifaceted religious history.

A clear and unified artistic vision and the strategy aimed at involving local artists and cultural agents behind the range of programmes needs to be highlighted in detail in the selection of cultural and artistic content. Also, new, integrative and innovative attempts re-envisioning traditional art forms and local cultural heritage need to be considered. To demonstrate the feasibility of the concept, the tender has to feature a practical and sustainable, comprehensive, long term financial plan on the part of local and national authorities to prove their commitment. In addition, applicants are to show a “fundraising strategy” that display possible tenders and putative sources of financial support and funding.

Unity not majority!

e General Assembly approved Eger’s Cultural and Community building Strategy

The General Assembly approved Eger’s Cultural and Community building Strategy in January 2017, which also incorporates the period after “ECoC2023”. This document contains our long term cultural, social and economic goals, including those of city development. Winning the title would enable us to realise these goals.

We are able to proudly announce that our project in Eger has gained its initial impetus from unity, and not a mere majority. It is of paramount importance that the city’s Cultural and Community building Strategy was unanimously approved at the February 23rd General Assembly. We are delighted at this, as the existence of this comprehensive document in itself is a precondition of applying for the “ECoC2023” tender for a regional centre. The document’s unanimous backing speaks for itself. No matter our ideological or political differences, we can all be proud of Eger’s cultural assets. We know and believe that we’ll be able to carry this forward to a European level of representation in a fitting manner throughout the tender application process.

Also worthy of note is the fact that the unanimous backing of the key strategy was secured at the same meeting of the General Assembly which saw the foundation of a press award in memory of György Mészáros who died 25 years ago. It was he, a hero of 1956, a well-known researcher, an illustrious cultural expert and journalist who created Eger’s first Cultural Mission Statement in the wake of the fall of communism.

Where are we now?

On two occasions, the City Hall has been the venue for wide-ranging discussions involving the heads of local cultural institutions and art associations, of NGOs, representatives of the Eger Archdiocese, Eszterházy Károly University, and creatives who hail from Eger and/or are active in the area.

The Local Government of Eger is hosting further discussion forums and professional conferences in the preparatory period, where local citizens, NGOs, and civic groups can weigh in with their views and suggestions regarding Eger’s tender application and the strategic aims of local cultural life.

We aim to draft a programme with the input and broad consensus of local cultural players and citizens. The delineation of societal links is an important element of the tender. The international jury will be placing a heavy emphasis on examining innovative ways in which NGOs, the local population and especially the young have been involved in the programme. Education, for instance, and the participation of schools deserves special attention.


Strategic cooperation with the University of Eger


László Habis, Mayor, and Dr. Kálmán Liptai, rector of Eszterházy Károly University, signed a strategic agreement on close cooperation in the ECoC2023 tender at the official ceremony held in celebration of the Hungarian Culture Day in January 2017.