The “The European Capitals of Culture Day at the Universal Exhibition 2020 Dubai” is the event that the Matera Basilicata 2019 Foundation is organizing on October 30, 2021 in the Italian Pavilion at the Expo 2020 Dubai, in partnership with the Commissioner General of Italy. The initiative is the result of the Memorandum of understanding signed in October 2018 between the Foundation and the Commissariat, which envisaged the involvement of the network of European Capitals of Culture, headed by Matera, as a lever for strengthening the dialogue and cooperation between Europe and the vast region of Arab countries. Symbolically, the ceremony that marked the start of the one-year countdown of the Italian presence at the Expo 2020 Dubai was held in Matera, at Cava del Sole, in October 2019, the year the city was European Capital of Culture. Two of the main attendees were the Italian Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Luigi Di Maio and the Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation of the United Arab Emirates, H.H. Sheikh Abdallah Bin Zayed Al Nahyan.
The ‘Day’ on 30 October 2021 will highlight the most significant cultural experiences of the European Capitals of Culture and their huge contribution to the themes that the Dubai World Expo is promoting: building bridges, leaving no one behind, living in an equilibrium.”
This day in the context of the most important event of the year acquires a special value during this prolonged period that has been marked by the pandemic and the compulsory cancellation of so many major live events. Not only by shining a spotlight on the European Capitals of Culture in the months when for the first time since 1985 there are no ECoCs, but also by creating a connection between the closing ceremonies of Galway and Rijeka in April 2021 and the opening ceremonies of Esch, Kaunas and Novi Sad in 2022. The event will bring to the fore the network of European Capitals of Culture that represent a huge and varied potential of experiences and practices of the transformative and regenerative impact of culture on the cities and their communities.
The program will be played out in four events: the International Forum “The European Capitals of Culture and the New European Bauhaus: how to build sustainable, inclusive and beautiful places”; the International Forum: “Urban/Rural: designing through culture new connections between overcrowded and sparsely populated areas”; “The ECoC game”, an interactive experience designed by the Open Design School aimed at taking visitors on an imaginary journey through the history of the European Capitals of Culture; the performance “Open Sound” – one of the original co-productions of Matera 2019 realized with Multietnica association-, a bridge between the production of contemporary electronic music and sound practices related to the most representative rituals of Lucanian tradition. The performance will involve Italian and Arab musicians and producers, celebrating the encounter of different and similar cultures.
Eight European Capitals of Culture will be participating in the discussions around the themes of the two forums: Esch 2022 (Luxembourg), Novi Sad 2022 (Serbia), Kaunass 2022 (Lithuania), Veszprém-Balaton 2023 (Hungary), Eleusis 2023 (Greece), Nova Gorica/Gorizia 2025 (Slovenia), Oulu 2026 (Finland), and Matera 2019. Major guests at the forum on European Capitals of Culture and New European Bauhaus will include architect Carlo Ratti, co-designer of the Italian Pavilion at Expo, and Mariya Gabriel, European Commissioner for Innovation, Research, Culture, Education and Youth (on video).
“It is a source of immense pride for us that Matera 2019 will lead the European Capitals of Culture to the Expo 2020 Dubai”, says Michele Somma, Vice President of the Matera Basilicata 2019 Foundation.
“We wanted to organize this initiative together with the Italian Pavilion and the network of European Capitals of Culture to relaunch this network and to highlight the resilience and ability to reinvent a major event by overcoming the unforeseen challenges posed by the pandemic. It is particularly significant for us to give a sign of rebirth and openness to the world by bringing together the capital cities in one of the few outside EU events, allowing them to be seen together as protagonists, live. Particular attention will be paid to the contribution that the European Capitals of Culture bring to the “New European Bauhaus”, an initiative launched by the European Commission, through an innovative process of co-design in which Matera 2019 is participating with the Open Design School to design more beautiful, more inclusive and more sustainable spaces”.