• PhD Agnese Hermane Latvian Academy of Culture, Institute of Arts and Cultural Studies, Latvia
  • Ilona Kunda Latvian Academy of Culture, Institute of Arts and Cultural Studies, Latvia



ECoC status, public participation, cultural planning, digital participation


European cities compete for the status of the European Capital of Culture (ECoC), as it is proven to enhance city visibility and the profile of cultural events in the city; it also allows addressing issues of strategic cultural development of the successful candidate. Importantly, the status comes with an explicit requirement to ensure sufficient public participation in developing the bid and implementing the cultural programme. Prior research demonstrates that meaningful participation is not easy to achieve; the research on that aspect is considered scarce.

The article aims to analyse the interpretation of public participation, its challenges and shaping factors as seen by ECoC bid-producing teams. The main research question is “What did the bid development process uncover about the capacity of bid-producing teams to foster public participation in the Latvian cities – ECoC finalists?”

The current paper examines the challenge of participation encountered in the process of developing the bid for the second round of ECoC 2027 by three applying cities in Latvia. The study was carried out between October 2022 and March 2023 using qualitative methodology. The theoretical starting point of the study is the four-part framework of factors influencing participation by Kaifeng Yang and Sanjay K. Pandey [Yang & Pandey 2011]. The study suggests that these factors are indeed useful in conducting an analysis of participation. In addition, the study supports the prior conclusions of scholarly literature pointing out that more nuanced language is needed to interpret participation and participants. The article pays special attention to the nuances of digital participation and the organisational characteristics of the public body in charge of participation in cultural planning. 


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