What do Guimarães in Portugal and Maribor in Slovenia have in common, apart from that most people cannot find them on a map? This year, the pair of cities share the title of European Capital of Culture.
40 towns and cities have held the honour since Athens was named the first European
Capital of Culture in 1985. Selected by an international panel of cultural
experts, the aim of the title is to bring different European countries closer together
by highlighting the diversity of their cultures.
being often overshadowed by Oporto, just 30 minutes to the southwest, it makes
sense that this year the committee selected the burgeoning cultural scene of
Guimarães in northern Portugal. With around half of its inhabitants under age
30, Guimarães is one of Europe’s youngest cities, both in age and spirit. A boom
of contemporary culture in recent years has revived its medieval streetscapes,
a World Heritage Site since 2001.
Now the year-long
European Capital of Culture program
is set to bring even more life to Guimarães. The rich repertoire of events ranges
from music, cinema and photography to fine arts, theatre and dance. More
importantly, a crop of new openings, sparked and partly financed by the
program, is about to give a further boost to the city’s cultural landscape.
Centro Cultural Vila Flor (CCVF) kick-started the
city’s cultural revival when it opened in 2005 in a striking modern building
added onto a converted 18th-century palace. Events at this culture powerhouse
include movie screenings, cafe concerts, theatre and art exhibits. This year, as
part of the European Capital of Culture program, CCVF will present the second
edition of GUIdance
(1 to 11 February), an international dance festival showcasing major
contemporary dance companies such as Belgium’s les
Ballets C de la B, who are slated to open the festival with the world
premiere of their new work, Au-delà.
for Art and Architecture Affairs,
unveiled in October 2011 in a former textile factory, is the latest opening in
Guimarães. The non-profit collective promotes interaction between various
fields of creative expression, including visual arts, design, film, literature,
media, performing arts and architecture. Upcoming events on the European
Capital of Culture program include a conference focused on the work of John
Cage (10 March to 28 April) and Frame Art, a video art and experimental
cinema festival (3 May to 8 July).
is more in the pipeline. Opening in March in a run-down part of town called
Couros (named after the area’s once flourishing leather industry) is the Design Institute, a partnership
between the municipality, the University of Minho and Portugal’s National
Design Association. Its inaugural exhibit, part of the European Capital of
Culture program, will focus on product design, specifically the relationship
between traditional products and contemporary design.
notable opening this year, scheduled for June, is the Platform
of Arts and Creativity in a former market, a multipurpose space
dedicated to arts and various creative endeavours. It kicks off with an
exhibition by Portuguese painter José de Guimarães, with pieces from his
private collection of pre-Colombian, African and Chinese art.
month will see the opening of the House of Memory, located in an old plastic
factory right next door to the Platform. This cultural institution will host an
interactive display composed of memory-laden personal items donated by the
people of Guimarães. It is designed to tell and preserve the history of the
common people, an admirable effort in this world that forgets and changes so quickly.
The article 'Guimarães’ culture boost' was published in partnership with Lonely Planet.