2. december 2011


After celebrations in the Ministry of Culture last Friday when the jury sent both Sønderborg and Aarhus into the next round of the application process, Sønderborg 2017 is now hard at work bringing together the resources to strengthen the town’s candidature. Amongst other things, Artistic Director Sue McCauley will be joining from Australia in January.


The presentation team and assistants: Standing from the left: Dorthe Ulstrup from Nybøl; Elisa Priester from the 2017 Secretariat; Violinist Harald Haugaard; 2017 Director Else Christensen Redzepovic; Sønderborg Mayor Aase Nyegaard; Director and Founder of TeleBilling Jesper Schack; the Director of Centre for Culture John Bøgelund Frederiksen, Sound Technician Lars Opstrup and Henriette Pilegaard from the 2017 Secretariat. Sitting from the left: Emina Redzepovic and Frederik Andersen; Foreman for Sønderborg's Culture and Business Committee Stephan Kleinschmidt; Gitte Bjørn-Lüthi and Tamim H. Shakeel of 2017 Secretariat; and rapper Jeppe "Rapp" Nedergaard. The photographer, Patricio Soto, was also part of the team.

- The applications were as different as it's possible for them to be. The jury recognised and admired the enthusiasm and level of ambition in both the applications and there's room for development and improvement in both of them. We held long and intense discussions and reached a unanimous verdict. The jury recommend that the following potential venues go on to the next round: … Aarhus… and Sønderborg.

Those were the words of Dr. Manfred Gaulhofer when he, as chairman of the jury responsible for selecting the European Capital of Culture, announced the result of the jury's deliberations, to the relief of the assembled representatives at a press meeting in the Ministry of Culture last Friday.

The two hour wait to hear the result was a long one for the team from Sønderborg who had presented their application to the jury after several weeks' intense preparations. Finally, however, the time for the announcement arrived, and the Sønderborg delegation were well represented at the press meeting. In addition to the team it was attended by The Lord Mayor of Flensburg, Simon Faber, and the Chairman of the Region of South Denmark, Carl Holst, who were attending to support Sønderborg with Sønderjylland-Schleswig's candidacy. Additionally, Caroline Schwarts from the Commission for Minorities and Culture in the Diet, Kiel had made the long trip to Copenhagen, along with a cultural attaché from the German Embassy - Marko Naoki Lins, culture and communications staff from the Sønderborg team and representatives of the border association, an organisation which has been heavily involved in Sønderborg's candidacy.

The first to speak was Minister of Culture Uffe Elbæk, who spoke of how nervous he was on both the Danish potential venues' behalf.

- But I'd like to thank you for all your hard work. You've made enormous efforts, said the Minister of Culture who during the course of the press meeting went on to say that both candidates had already brought new cultural and political methods into being which other towns and cities would be able to benefit from, and which Denmark as host of the European Cultural Capital in 2017 already benefits from.


At the press conference, Sønderborg2017 and Sønderborg's Mayor Aase Nyegaard (centre) were supported by Flensburg's Lord Mayor Simon Faber (right) and Chairman for The Region of South Denmark Carl Holst (left). Front: Jeppe "Rapp" from the presentation team.

Subsequently, Ann Branch of the European Commission spoke of the criteria for successful European Cultural Capital applicants: The European Cultural Capital is one of the world's most ambitious cultural events and it is intended to increase Europeans' mutual understanding and bring them closer together; the objective being to engage the public and generate long term social development.

BOOST from Down Under to Sønderborg

As Mayor Aase Nyegaard immediately stressed: It's fantastic but we can't rest on our laurels. Now the real work begins.

In the 2017 Secretariat we're now waiting on the jury's report which will be published before Christmas. This will include the improvements the jury recommends. We already have a feeling for what it is we need to work on to strengthen our application, however, before we resubmit it, probably in early May next year.

We are now in the process of forming a number of task forces to help us carry out the work that needs doing, and one of the first jobs on the list is to appoint an artistic director on a three month contract. We've already found her, and since October she's been working to familiarize herself with our candidacy. Her name is Dr Sue McCauley from Melbourne, Australia. She's a creative producer and a specialist in citizen participation. Amongst other things she's produced a number of art and multimedia projects in Australia and countries like Ireland, Cambodia, South Africa and Antarctica.

Her job will be to help us develop our application to the point when we have to present the final application in the Ministry of Culture in August. By then we really will be nervous.