Abstract 'RETHINK' as motivation?

 “‘RETHINK’ as motivation? 2017 from the cultural organisations’ perspective” is a report that examines the motivation for being a part of Aarhus 2017 within Danish cultural organisations and how the organisations relate to the strategic objectives of Aarhus 2017. The analysis is based on interviews with organisations related to Aarhus 2017. The analysis finds that the cultural organisations have different views on what Aarhus 2017 should focus on, but there is also a difference in how they perceive themselves as being obligated to be co-creators of the 2017-project. To ensure generalizability of this analysis, past experiences from former European Capitals of Culture (ECoC) are put into perspective to demonstrate a number of general overlaps within the ECoC programme. For a more general take on the ECoC programme the reports European Cities and Capitals of Culture Part 1 (2004) by Palmer/Rae Associates (red.) and European Capitals of Culture: Success Strategies and Long-Term Effects (2013) by Beatriz García (red.) are introduced. Furthermore, two specific ECoC cities, Stavanger08 and Liverpool 2008, are included as cases to specify which challenges Aarhus 2017 and the cultural organisations might face during the years of planning.

The main challenges of the ECoC cities are how they communicate with cultural organisations and how they ensure financial support throughout the planning process to avoid cultural organisations being left behind. Particularly, the small organisations feel neglected, which may cause frustrations and lack of willingness to cooperate with Aarhus 2017. This is a concern that some of the cultural organisations share. Another concern is Danish organisations focusing more on the local and international aspect of the collaboration with Aarhus 2017 and less on the regional and European, which does not correspond to the objectives listed by Aarhus 2017 and by the ECoC programme according to the Palmer/Rae and García reports.

Aarhus 2017 has listed strategic objectives and a Rethink framework (the project’s title), as specific focus areas for the 2017 project. Yet some of the cultural organisations end up not fully committing to these areas in order to obtain their own wishes for their cultural projects. The focus areas seem to be too general to create a comprehensive expression, which can have substantial consequences for Aarhus 2017’s long-term effects. Thus, this report recommends that Aarhus 2017 should improve their communication in regards to what they expect from the cultural organisations. The cultural organisations may benefit from improved communication, as they can truly relate to the strategic objectives set by Aarhus 2017. Simultaneously, it is important that the cultural organisations do not neglect the rethink framework and the strategic objectives, as the 2017 project consequentially will lose its meaning.