Together with the last conclusion of the European Commission, the team of “Kaunas – European Capital of Culture” has heard great news. After assessing the readiness and fulfilment of the commitments made back in 2017, the jury recommended that the city be awarded the Melina Mercouri Prize of 1.5 million euros. This prize is awarded to European capitals of culture if the plans listed in the project application are successfully implemented and the quality of project management is ensured, the obligations of the funders are fulfilled (the project is funded by Kaunas City Municipality, Kaunas District Municipality and the Government of the Republic of Lithuania). 

The two meetings of the teams of European Commission for monitoring and “Kaunas 2022” consistently analysed the progress of preparation for 2022, development of partnerships, contribution to the implementation of the Strategy of Culture of Kaunas City, communication plans and actions. From the very beginning of the project, the involvement of communities and society in the preparation for the programme of European Capital of Culture, the actions of cultural decentralization in the neighbourhoods of Kaunas city and Kaunas District settlements have been highly valued. At the third meeting in October 2021, the members of the jury mostly focused on the plan of continuity of “Kaunas 2022” project. This prize is dedicated to consolidating the Changes of Culture.

“The Melina Mercouri Prize is awarded to nearly all the cities that are European capitals of culture. It represents a relatively small part of the budget for this long-standing, culturally transformative project. It is important that project stakeholders who have devoted so much energy and resources to this Olympic-level event use this badge of appreciation to ensure the continuity of emerging artistic and cultural phenomena. What seems more significant to me in this report is the qualitative assessment and appreciation that, even in the context of COVID, we have been able to reach and involve so many people, mobilize partners, win international awards for integrated communication and marketing campaigns. And, most importantly, to create a top-level programme for art for 2022 that, based on local identity and uniqueness, enriches the overall European culture,” Director of “Kaunas – European Capital of Culture” said.  

Both during the meeting and in the conclusion, the development and application of co-creation methodologies and the preparation of methodological material in English were identified as significant factors by the jury. It also expressed its wish for the continuation of sharing the best practice of Kaunas and Kaunas District both through the continuation of the Forum of European Capital of Culture in Kaunas, and by promoting the methodological material and by sharing the best practice with other cities and regions. 

“European Capital of Culture is the most significant cultural project of the European Union that allows the designated cities to look at themselves from the outside and, by employing creativity, to create a new local narrative, network at national and European level. Probably the most important thing we will take with us from this experience is a change in quality and quantity. Having started on the road seven years ago with just a few of us, now together with over 70 Lithuanian and several hundred of European cultural organizations and over 500 cultural professionals, we can change our place so that it is interesting for the entire Europe and the world,” Virginija Vitkienė says.  

The third report of “Kaunas – European Capital of Culture 2022” and the conclusion of the jury commission can be found here: https://kaunas2022.eu/planai-ir-ataskaitos/ 

Programme of “Kaunas 2022”: www.kaunas2022.eu