Plzeň 2015 brings cultural revival, visitors influx

Photo: archive of Plzeň - European City of Culture 2015

The project Plzeň – European City of Culture 2015, which kicked off in grand style in January this year, is now at the halfway point. What have been the most popular events in the West Bohemian city? And how successful has the project been so far? I put these questions to Radovan Auer, the Director of Marketing and Communication of Plzeň 2015:

Photo: archive of Plzeň - European City of Culture 2015
“We are quite happy because it seems that our economic targets will be fulfilled. At this moment we have recorded quite a big increase of tourists in Plzeň. In the second quarter of the year we had a 500 percent increase of organised city tours.

“At this moment we don’t have statistical data about overnight tourists, because they will only be released at the end of August but in the streets of Plzeň you can see a lot of international tourists at we have about 90 percent tickets sold for our events, so we are very happy.”

You also said you wanted local people to participate in the events. How successful were you in attracting the locals?

“Part of our programme is completely built on participation of people and we are very happy that these programmes, such as the Neighbours’ Day or the exhibition Family Photo Album, are very successful.

Exhibition dedicated to Jiří Trnka, photo: Zdeňka Kuchyňová
“But what we see is that for this year, if you want to be ‘in’ in Plzeň, you must visit cultural events. We have information from other organizers of cultural events that they are selling tickets much better than in other years, because the Pilsners are very happy to have the title and they are interested in all the cultural events taking place in their city.”

What were the most successful events in Plzeň so far?

“Among the most successful events are the exhibitions. We had two exhibitions about Jiří Trnka, the famous animator and puppeteer born in Plzeň, and both of them were visited by 44,000 people, which makes them one of the country’s top five exhibitions of the year.

“Very successful is also the exhibition of Gottfried Lindauer, another Plzeň-born artist, who made portraits of the Maori nation in New Zealand.”

And what are some of the highlights of the second half?

Painting by Gottfried Lindauer, photo: archive of Auckland Art Gallery
“The biggest highlight of the whole year will take place on the last weekend of August, the giant puppets in the streets. Puppetry is one of the key elements of our programme because Plzeň is very well known for puppetry.

“I have already mentioned Jiří Trnka, but also the well-known Spejbl and Hurvínek come from Plzeň. That’s why we brought the show of giant puppets from Spain and something like that will probably never happen in the Czech Republic again, because it is extremely complicated to organise.

“Another very interesting project is our international cooperation with another City of Culture of this year, Belgium’s Mons. We prepared a theatrical piece called Ubu Today and we think it will be one of the key events of this autumn in Plzeň.”