August 24, 2012

Sonderborg sticks with 2017 ambitions – although the title went to Aarhus

Today, at the Danish Agency for Culture in Copenhagen, the jury awarded the title of European Capital of Culture to Aarhus, the candidate generally considered most likely to win the race.

This does not mean, however, that the work Sonderborg has put into its candidacy over the last four years will go to waste.

On the contrary, Sonderborg with Southern Jutland and Schleswig are still aiming to create Europe’s leading border-crossing culture region. It was not exactly a dream scenario for Sonderborg with Southern Jutland and Schleswig earlier today, when the Danish-German delegation had to watch the jury award the title of European Capital of Culture 2017 to Aarhus.

It was, however, a scenario that Sonderborg had considered quite probable ever since the race began, not least because of Aarhus’ status as the favorite to win. This ensured that the delegation was still in good spirits and determined to realize the ambitions defined in the city’s ECoC candidacy – an effort, which the city and the border-region have been working on for more than four years.

- Our goals for 2017 represent a strategy for development and growth – for all of Southern Denmark and the border-region, and we are going to stick with our ambitions. Aarhus winning the title does not change the challenges we face, and culture and creativity are great tools when it comes to ensuring growth and development – and to create more jobs. Sonderborg has to succeed, not least in terms of attracting more young people to our region, both as a place to live and a place to work, says Aase Nygaard, the mayor of Sonderborg.

Else C. Redzepovic, the manager of Sonderborg’s 2017 Office, adds:

- Our candidacy is based on our vision of creating a Countryside Metropolis, and through this we have established a specific vision for the city and the region, which we will continue to work to realize. The goal is to create Europe’s leading border-crossing culture region, and thanks to our work so far, we now have clearly defined development projects, initiatives and cooperation agreements ready.

Support from the entire region Even though Sonderborg did not win the title, support is still strong throughout the region. Chairman of the Regional Council of Southern Denmark Carl Holst says:

- Obviously, it is disappointing, but our effort does not stop here. All the work put into Sonderborg’s candidacy shows that there is a huge potential in uniting the forces of the border-region, and the work that has begun will continue – simply in a different form.

Also Torsten Albig, the Prime Minister of Schleswig-Holstein, shows great support:
- Thank you Sonderborg, and everyone who fought along with you, for a phenomenal fight. Even though we did not win first prize, the Sonderborg2017 project has catapulted our shared region forward in a great way. The candidacy has created new possibilities, which we must now put to good use – together.

Collaboration with Aarhus on the ECoC project The two candidate cities, long before the final jury decision was made, made an agreement to collaborate on the ECoC project – regardless of which candidate would win the title. The first meeting between the two cities has already been scheduled.

Aase Nygaard says:
- We look forward to working with Aarhus. Now the two cities will be transformed from competitors to collaborators, and I am certain it will result in a very productive process the next five years.

Among the projects that the two cities will collaborate on is an international exchange program with artists from the respective regions. Creating a Countryside Metropolis The vision of creating a Countryside Metropolis has been the central aspect of Sonderborg’s candidacy. Countryside Metropolis is a new term developed by Sonderborg, because it is fitting for the region, its challenges, potentials and ambitions.

Sonderborg wishes to prove that rural and urban areas do not have to oppose each other; that it is possible to unite them in a third form of life that is strong and vital. The city shall no longer have a monopoly on creativity, innovation, cultural diversity or economic growth. With the Countryside Metropolis, Sonderborg wishes to set an example that shows how it is possible to revitalize the old rural areas of the continent and turn them into gradual transitions between the countryside and the metropolis.


A wide array of projects

To help realize the vision, Sonderborg will create the platform entitled The HUB, which will assist cross-fertilization between the art and business worlds, and BRANDI, which is an extensive network for artists in the border-region.

In addition to this, there are two dedicated children’s projects – the innovative and award-winning design concept Design for Change and an international children’s theater festival. iOpera will ensure a new generation of opera enthusiasts, and Theatron produces plays, which will be performed both in Sonderborg and on an international tour, while ArtFARM is an education and creativity platform focusing on art and food. On top of this, there is also the significant Red Cross project, which focuses on the battlefield around Dybbøl, which was the first place that Red Cross was actively engaged. There will be a press conference at Sonderborg City Hall on Monday, August 27th at 9:15am.