The European Capital of Culture Initiative and Cultural Legacy: an Analysis of the Cultural Sector in the Aftermath of Cork 2005.

Bernadette Quinn, Dublin Institute of Technology

Document Type Article

Quinn, B. (2009) The European Capital of Culture initiative and cultural legacy: an analysis of the cultural sector in the aftermath of Cork 2005. Event Management 13, (4): 249 – 264.


The European Cities/Capitals of Culture (subsequently referred to as ECOC) initiative was originally set up to celebrate European cultural diversity in 1985. A growing academic literature on the subject now argues that the ECOC has lost sight of its original aims and is being increasingly used to further city-branding, image creation and tourism revenue generation agendas. This paper supports García’s (2005: 863) argument that ‘culture needs to get back to the centre of any discussion on this topic’ and examines how the regular workings of an embedded cultural sector can be affected by a one-off large scale event that is cultural in focus. Specifically, it focuses on the cultural sector in the Irish city of Cork which hosted the event in 2005. The study’s findings point to a number of ways in which the ECOC constituted a boost for the sector in terms of strengthening capacity, building relationships and enhancing well-being. It further points to a number of shortcomings in how the ‘process’ or developmental potential of the event was fostered. A number of questions for future research are raised.