The heads of 20 local governments from Southern Estonia signed a cooperation agreement on Monday, 29 April, which supports Tartu's candidacy for European Capital of Culture 2024. The good faith agreement was symbolically signed at the tip of Suur Munamägi.
In his opening statement for the event held at Suur Munamägi, Tartu Mayor Urmas Klaas thanked the local governments for their good cooperation and highlighted the common goals of Southern Estonia’s towns and rural municipalities. ‘We are applying for the title of European Capital of Culture because it will further raise our level of visibility in Europe and provide foreign visitors with a reason to stay here longer,' said Urmas Klaas. ‘By combining the strengths, natural diversity and cultural diversity of the City of Tartu and Southern Estonia, the result is a stronger application,' the Mayor emphasised.
Mailis Koger, Mayor of Rõuge Rural Municipality, who welcomed the heads of the local governments from Southern Estonia on Suur Munamägi, wished for a continuation of the substantive and good spirit of cooperation. ‘It is an historic day when twenty local governments unite in the name of a common goal, and our cooperation can intensify even further through the framework of many small projects, of which the Capital of Culture programme is comprised.
Erni Kask, Leading Project Manager of the Tartu 2024 Candidacy Team, confirmed that the selection process for the European Capital of Culture has reached a decisive phase. ‘In four months, it will be clear which Estonian city and region has earned the recognition of the international jury,' said Kask. ‘I can feel the positive expectations and willingness of Southern Estonia, which are very important when it comes to a successful candidacy, since winning the title means a five-year journey of work that will begin this fall.
After her musical greeting on Suur Munamägi, singer and author Mari Kalkun, who has roots in Võru County, encouraged Tartu and Southern Estonia to tell their story. ‘A sense of originality is what also speaks to people from outside of our region,’ said Kalkun. In order to be able to tell our story, we first have to learn about ourselves and our roots, and find that which is unique, but at the same time universal,' stated the musician.
The local governments of Põlva County, Võru County, Valga County, Tartu County, and the town of Viljandi are standing together with the City of Tartu as a candidate for the title of European Capital of Culture 2024.
According to Annela Laaneots, the Southern Estonia
coordinator for the Tartu 2024 Candidacy Team, when preparing the application for
the final round of the European Capital of Culture all of the cultural
directors for the counties have been met with and public discussions were also
organised in all of the counties. ‘We are working together in Southern-Estonia
in order to offer the international jury the best ideas, events and venues
possible, while at the same time taking into consideration the cultural
strengths and visions for the future of those same unique local governments,’
Which Estonian city will win the title of European Capital Culture 2024 will become clear in August. The submission of a final application, or bid book, is awaited by 1 August, from the Estonian cities of Narva and Tartu, which have both reached the final round. On 26–27 August, the European Capitals of Culture jury will be visiting the cities that reached the final round. On 28 August, the presentation teams from the cities will be defending their final round applications in front of the international jury, after which the jury will select the winner of the title of European Capital of Culture 2024.