Évora, European Capital of Culture 2027

Évora's candidacy, European Capital of Culture 2027 is a unique and unrepeatable moment

I was a professor at the University of Évora for 23 years, I have a lot of affection for the city, so I hope that it will be one of the chosen ones in the first phase of the CEC 2027 contest that will end at the end of March or beginning of next April. Here are some thoughts on the subject.

I would say that Évora's candidacy for European capital of culture 2027 is justified by four powerful reasons:

– A historical-cultural reason: after Évora's World Heritage Site 1986, Évora's candidacy for European capital of culture 2027 makes perfect sense;

– A sense of urgency in the midst of a unique crisis: after a serious public health crisis associated with a deep socio-economic depression, the candidacy is a sign of vitality and hope for the future;

– The mutation of the city-county into a city-region: this is a unique moment for the great transformation of Évora-concelho in Évora-city-region and, also, with the mutation of the University in university e pluriversity, a new central place where it will play the role of main actor-network;

– A unique context of recovery and development: the enrollment of Évora city-region in the Portugal 2030 program and in the Resilience and Recovery Program 2026 is a unique opportunity to bring to a successful conclusion the great transitions of this decade.


Évora, the great compromise between nature and culture

After four powerful reasons, a great compromise between nature and culture. In the current decade, we will witness severe climatic events and some serious disruptions and, for that reason, the great compromise between nature and culture will be the distinctive sign and the impressive mark of the Alentejo region.

Heritage and landscape, ecology and economy, science and technology, art and culture, these are the ingredients of this commitment for a decade that will be structured in four transitions and four key strategies, as shown in the following table. .

– Socio-ecological transition: the green plan and the organic city, ecological infrastructure and the network of green corridors, the rehabilitation of ecosystems and ecosystem services, biophysical architecture and landscape arts, elements of the territory’s memory and its natural and cultural heritage;

– Sociocultural transition: the appreciation of the arts and humanities in academia, an arts and technology business school, more material and virtual platforms for cultural and creative activities as elements of a more collaborative economy and society, a network of scientific, cultural and artistic residencies in support of these platforms;

– Sociodemographic transition: social innovation program for senior society (active aging and collaborative clubs) and socio-labor integration for young people, in particular, infrastructure and equipment of the digital society that promote collaborative work, business incubation , the mobility of digital nomads, but also the neo-rural people of the so-called 2nd rurality;

– Socio-economic transition: the launch of a proximity agri-food system in the form of a municipal or inter-municipal agroecological park, then the economy of the Alentejo forest and the economy of the Mediterranean diet as examples of compromise between the natural heritage and the regional economy, then, examples of socio-economic transition in the field of the digital society, whether in the circular economy, precision agriculture, preventive forestry or in the large area of ​​creative and cultural industries, which also include the landscape arts.

Within the framework of the 2030 regional policy system, I want to believe that Évora, a city-region, is the most appropriate approach, not only for the benefit of polycentric and multilevel governance, but also for the justification of a mission structure that can and should result of the close collaboration between CIM do Alentejo Central, the University of Évora, CCDR Alentejo and NERA, the regional business center.


Évora, the programs and projects that support the candidacy

If some investments are not made to consolidate the four capitals in the city, in the municipality and in the Central Alentejo region, the investments will appear as opportunistic, without lasting consequences on the well-being and quality of life of the citizens and made, after all, the think more about occasional visitors and less about regular residents.

Likewise, there is no cultural and creative industries (CCI) without quality tourism and there is no quality tourism without quality ICC and regional value chains (CVR) that embody and reveal them to the world.

Let's start with the transversal investments that support the application:

1 - Évora's Green Plan: ecological infrastructure network and green corridors, ecosystem rehabilitation and ecosystem services;

2 - human and social capital: active aging and innovate youth programs;

3 - Évora Smart Cityy, program to support the digital transition and cultural and creative infrastructure and equipment;

4 - ICC and SMEs, business incentive program for the formation of an ICC cluster and for the production of creative content and events.

With regard to the priority investment projects that support the candidacy, the list that follows is my sole responsibility and almost all of them do justice to the compromise between nature and culture. But other options will surely be available.

Let’s take a look at this list of projects:

>>The University of Évora and its urban schools (Espírito Santo, Cordovil, Vimioso, Verney and Leões): consolidation of spaces, new equipment and their reticulation (a program of guided tours),

>>The Mitra/Valverde hub of the EU: the fundamental links between agriculture, environment and natural heritage; the recovery of cork oak forests as a fundamental and emblematic investment in the natural heritage (reinforcement of the ICAM),

>>The Tourega/Valverde Cultural Park: the Bom Jesus Convent and the Quinta do Paço de Valverde, the creation of a landscape arts center, in search of paradise gardens (a tribute to the architect Gonçalo Ribeiro Telles),

>>The Municipal Agroecological Park: the creation of the SAL (agrifood system of the municipality), also a pedagogical and therapeutic farm for the youngest and the oldest and a holiday camp and volunteer work,

>>The School of Arts and Technologies (secondary education): a major digital literacy program, training creative talents and young entrepreneurs for the cultural and creative industries,

>>The complex of residences for scientific, artistic and cultural activities: master's and doctoral students, young researchers and the creative class that comes to work in the municipality and in the region,

>>The Eugénio de Almeida Foundation: the links between agriculture, environment and natural and cultural heritage, a central actor to illustrate the new city-countryside relations,

>>The Garcia de Resende Theater, a center for performing and performing arts in close articulation with the University's school of arts,

>>O Convento da Cartuxa, an ICC incubator and a tiers lieu for a coworking space for activities in the cultural and creative industries,

>>The Évora brand, a heritage of humanity and the UNESCO brands of Alentejo, form a new imaginary of the city-region: the Mediterranean diet, the Alentejo cante, the Bars of Estremoz, the rattle art, justify the launch of an incentive program for the production of content related to these intangible heritages of humanity.

In addition to these most emblematic investments, others are justified, for example:

>>green plan and citizens' quality of life: mobility, gardens and public spaces, rehabilitation of the houses in the historic center and the living conditions of the older population, that is, what relationship between senior society and a new urbanism for the city ?

>>support program for urban art, crafts and small spaces/markets nearby, rehabilitation of buildings, monuments and equipment, with a view to their use by the ICC, that is, what urbanism and urban architecture at the service of art and culture?

>>increased support for cultural areas that are privileged by the Unesco network of creative cities, creation of a collaborative platform between all cultural agents in the municipality/region, creation of a cultural agency and a cultural marketing platform in Évora, that is, , which specific program for the UNESCO cultural heritage marks of the city-region?

>>The third places to attract independent workers, the start-up headquarters, artistic and scientific residencies, master's/doctoral students, researchers, intermittent show workers, that is, what policy to attract talent for the city-region of Évora?

To be successful, the fundamental compromise between nature and culture must be extended to value chains originating in the region, otherwise the regional geoeconomy will not be sustainable.

It is about establishing a relationship of necessary interdependence between the value chains originating in the region (CVR), the distinctive signs of the city-region and the production of cultural and creative content that can function as vehicles/messengers of a territorial distinction of the city-region.

It is about exploring the connection between CVR, events and content productions that extend the time of stay in the region: festivals, competitions, awards, biennials, guided tours, CC workshops, permanent residencies, for example, prize and festival arts (José Cutileiro), landscape arts prize and festival (Gonçalo Ribeiro Telles), literary prizes and festivals, Unesco do Alentejo prizes.


Final Notes

In the XNUMXst century, after the material infrastructure of their municipalities, it is now up to the municipalities to accommodate the expectations and aspirations of their citizens, from the material goods of everyday life to the intangible goods of relationship.

Cooperation between towns and cities is a perfectly accessible resource and a valuable instrument to introduce a new architecture of relationships with a view to common goods and access routes to a society of well-being where the most disadvantaged groups are the only ones privileged.

Furthermore, landscape and heritage, ecology and economy, science and technology, art and culture, open the door to countless intangible and intangible factors that strongly contribute to recreating the value chains that exist today.

It is a great opportunity for the poorest regions in material resources. For this purpose, the city-region and its territory-network are the new instruments for programming and operational planning and a more innovative way of looking at the geo-economy of the territory.

Évora's candidacy, CEC 2027, is a unique and unrepeatable moment to successfully complete this great commitment. And, even if the candidacy is not successful, no one would forgive us for underestimating this purpose.