In 2012, the second largest Slovene town was entrusted with the title of European Capital of Culture 2012, with the Institute Maribor 2012 appointed the executive entity responsible for the organization and unhindered execution of this European project.
Along with its five partner towns, Maribor was faced with the challenge of successfully carrying out the European Capital Culture international project in a difficult environment and circumstances.
The occasionally unclear and unstable financing scheme, a rigid organizational format and the complexity of coordinating tasks and activities of Maribor and five partner towns located in the Eastern cohesional region, along with a severe lack of adequate infrastructure and short deadlines, caused the organizers of the project to put in an effort which sometimes bordered on the impossible! All difficulties notwithstanding, the project was most successful and left a permanent mark on the city on the Drava River.
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In 2012, Maribor and its partner towns of Ptuj, Slovenj Gradec, Murska Sobota, Velenje and Novo mesto hosted 5.300 events, which were part of 405 programmes and visited by approx. 4,5 million people.
A public opinion poll has shown a material and positive shift in the public perception of the project, whereas an analysis of economic effects brought forth by the European Capital of Culture determined encouraging results in the fields of tourism and economy.
During the year of Maribor’s reign atop European Culture, the percentage of people in Slovenia who had visited at least one event until December 2012 increased to 10,8% of all poll participants (8,8% in July; 6,2% in May and 7,1% in March). An even higher percentage was recorded with people from the Maribor area, namely 53,2% (48,5% in October; 22,5% in May and 24,5% in March). The public poll conducted on a state-wide level recorded a 26,5% increase in visitors to Maribor and a 12,5% increase in visitors to partner towns, all of whom visited purely because of ECoC 2012.
The category which ranked the highest among Slovene poll participants was “Maribor should be proud of being the European Capital of Culture”, which recorded an average grade of 4,36 (state-wide sample, graded from 1 to 5, where 5 denotes “completely agree”, and 1 denotes “do not agree at all”).
Prominent marketing campaigns and over 13.9000 publications in various media, most of them positive, marked another achievement of Maribor’s cultural reign in 2012. The success was also felt abroad, as the Institute recorded over 800 articles in foreign media after Maribor hosted 400 media representatives from 28 countries.
The ECoC 2012 significantly contributed to the international recognition of Maribor, partner towns, the region and the country, and secured their place on the European cultural stage. The Maribor 2012 Info Points located in Ljubljana and Maribor undoubtedly contributed to the increased recognition, as both Info Points recorded nearly 29.000 visits throughout 2012, with 45,3% of recorded foreign visitors.
Statistics show that the tourism sector was able to capitalise on the excellent opportunity brought forth by the European Capital of Culture MARIBOR 2012, since the Maribor-Pohorje Tourism Board recorded a 20% increase in overnight stays in the Maribor area in comparison with 2011 data. The number of daily visits to Maribor was also significantly increased, since statistics showed a 61% increase in 2012 in comparison with 2011, with 92% of total increase recorded in June alone.
Video ECoC Maribor 2012 Within 40 Seconds
Challenges for the future – possibilities for development using the ECoC platform
The analysis of economic effects of the European Capital of Culture, prepared by renowned economists Kovač and Srakar as part of an internal assessment of Institute Maribor 2012, has shown an indisputably positive effect of the ECoC project on the economy.
As per the analysis, total effects of consumption of ECoC 2012 project visitors on value added ranged between 21 and 29 mil EUR. The authors of the analysis also estimate that the yield on public investment ranged between 3,32 and 3,99 EUR, meaning that every additional euro of public money invested into the ECoC 2012 project netted a yield of nearly 4 EUR.
“We may estimate that the total number of new jobs created by the project through visitors’ consumption ranges between 521 and 627 new jobs.”
The study has also shown that, according to internal assessment, the project was executed in an efficient manner. Moreover, the study has highlighted the possibility of development of sustainable programmes, and development of the central executive entity that would connect and further develop the programmes after the completion of the ECoC 2012 project.
By participating in international events held abroad or in Slovenia, the Institute Maribor 2012 contributed to a broad unification of culture and other sectors and segments in the Slovene environment. The positive effects of the project have left a significant mark on the broader economic development in the region, a fact further corroborated by the vast interest in the project shown by numerous Slovene corporations, which offered endorsements and other types of cooperation.
These results and analyses highlight the positive legacy of the ECoC 2012 project and reveal its potential for further development. However, the development is heavily dependent on the Municipality of Maribor and the appointed successors to the European Capital and Culture. The Institute Maribor 2012, which served as the executive entity of the ECoC project, underwent liquidation by ordinance of the Maribor City Council.