Prague - City of Culture project ends

Throughout the year 2000 Prague, with 8 other cities, held the title "The European City of Culture". It's a title that's granted every year by the EU council of Cultural Ministers in Brussels, with the aim to boost European cultural cooperation in protecting common European values. For Prague the project ends on February 2nd. Olga Szantova looks at what it meant for the Czech capital.

Prague has been a significant cultural center for centuries and the project could not, and wasn't expected to, make any fundamental changes to its cultural life. But, it was a major event, including numerous exhibitions, concerts and theatre performances. Michael Prokop, who headed the project says that all of them were significant.

"For me, personally, perhaps one of the greatest highlights was the Dans Nacional Nederlanden Teater's performance, a very modern program which was much more than just a ballet, and then, of course there was the New York Philharmonic Orchestra's concert, their first in Prague after 70 years. Altogether, there were some four hundred events, but one of the most significant, as far as the general public's interest and awareness was concerned, were the street theatre performances held over three weekends in September, and seen by hundreds of thousands of people. "

That was one occasion when the general public realized the project was happening. But all in all the title was less known and less significant for the public than the organizers had expected. Mr Prokop says this may have something to do with the fact that people in Prague are used to so many significant cultural events so they tend to take them for granted. He feels that had some other Czech city held the title, its citizens would have been much more enthusiastic. Everybody in Prague knows that their city is and always has been a city of culture. But, he says, the project did have some impact.

"The project had two aspects and we mustn't forget its international significance. In that respect we learned a lot about organizing international projects, a lesson that will be very useful in the future."

But the project was also significant to Prague's cultural life itself.

" We really did succeed in creating an overall picture of cultural activities in Prague and in introducing some new forms. For example the theatre boat on the Vltava River organized by the Forman brothers, sons of the famous film director. "

Those theatre performances held on the specially built boat were a great success and the organizers of the Prague City of Culture project hope this will be one of the new kinds of activities introduced during the year that will continue in the future, when Prague no longer holds the official title of City of Culture.

Author: Olga Szantová
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