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The Warsaw Voice » Business » December 30, 2016
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Wrocław Wraps up Year as European Capital of Culture
December 30, 2016   
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As the year is drawing to a close, so is Wrocław’s 12-month reign as a European Capital of Culture. Throughout 2016, this southwestern Polish city has vibrated with a multitude of cultural events that formed one big celebration for the residents and visitors alike.

An amazing and exceptional city, Wrocław has for years been successful at making a name for itself around the world. The European Capital of Culture 2016 designation has been a milestone in the city’s efforts to increase its international recognition.

According to Krzysztof Maj, general director of Wrocław’s European Capital of Culture 2016 project, building the brand of a city through cultural events is a tough and ambitious challenge. “Courage aside, it all takes determination and a long-term vision,” says Maj. “It is also important to know what your objectives are and how to accomplish them. Reports and figures show that our extensive and innovative European media campaign has been a success. Wrocław is Poland’s leader in this department. Hundreds of people have worked for it for several years and now the effort is paying off with unique benefits, allowing the city to be promoted globally. We have estimated the campaign’s media equivalent value at over zl.100 million. Pursuing various forms of cooperation, we have been able to build a base of over 1,500 journalists at media outlets around the world. They have all been writing about us this year. There have been over 50,000 publications, and newspapers, television and radio channels and online broadcasters have published and aired thousands of messages and interviews, in addition to hundreds of articles and press reports.”

The campaign has made an extensive use of social media “and the communication opportunities they present,” Maj adds. “In total, around 20-30 million people in Europe have been enticed to come to Wrocław,” he says. “This was the first project of this kind in this part of Europe.”

The European Capital of Culture year has seen Wrocław host thousands of cultural events, all of them designed to strengthen the city’s image as a welcoming place. Some had audiences involved and interacting in them, delivering many unforgettable thrills. Events such as Jazz and Guitar Weekend and “Read for Me, Wrocław” resulted in several regional audience groups. More seasoned and demanding audiences were offered a range of niche projects, but there were also events tailored to suit the mass audience. Alongside low-key happenings for local communities on quaint streets and in backyards, the organizers threw big events such as a concert by the legendary rock musician David Gilmour, who drew fans from around the world.

Each of the past 12 months in Wrocław was different in its own way with a selection of unique events. The European Capital of Culture agenda was specifically arranged to make sure there was always something to look forward to and feel thrilled about. Packed with events big and small, serious and lightweight, the agenda was diversified enough to draw all kinds of audiences.

The Closing Weekend for the European Capital of Culture 2016 will kick off at 8 p.m. on Thursday, Dec. 15. The opening act will be a band called We Draw A and their concert will mark the start of the eighth WROsound music festival that showcases a wide array of genres for younger audiences. In addition to We Draw A, the featured acts will include Christian Loffler & Mohna, Pink Freud and Legendarny Afrojax.

More music attractions will follow with the Friendship Festival coinciding with the 15th anniversary of the Wrocław-based OCN band. The closing weekend will then mark another jubilee at the National Forum of Music, where the forum’s choir will be celebrating its 10th anniversary with a concert. Audiences at the Wrocław Opera will be treated to the opening night for Il Trovatore, an opera by Giuseppe Verdi.

The main Closing Ceremony for the European Capital of Culture in Wrocław will consist of a multimedia show entitled The Sky and a grand Radio Broadcast. The Sky is the story of three generations of Wrocław women whose lives symbolize the city’s remarkable history in the 20th century. The show will feature a sound-and-light extravaganza combined with a live orchestra and dozens of performers. During the Radio Broadcast, film and theater stars will get together with audiences to read work by celebrated Polish writer Sławomir Mrożek.

From Dec. 15 to 18, Wrocław will be all about culture. Museums, artists and street performers will rule the city with parades, nativity plays and concerts held all over town. The European Capital of Culture year will end with a farewell concert Dec. 31 on Wrocław’s Market Square, featuring musicians, actors and other entertainers with ties to the city. The event will then segue into an outdoor New Year’s Eve party for all.

This has been a year to remember in Wrocław and while it is coming to an end, the city continues to play a key role in European culture.

Barbara Deręgowska
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