TALLINN - The northeast Estonian border city Narva will continue to vie for the title of European Capital of Culture 2024 with a new team led by Ilmar Raag as artistic director and a budget two times bigger than it used to be.
The new team preparing the candidacy of Narva for European Capital of Culture 2024 has been tasked with developing the program of the European Capital of Culture and drafting the final bidbook. The team led by Narva's City Architect Ivan Sergejev will be joined by communications expert and film director Ilmar Raag as artistic director.
The county town Rakvere will continue to be the regional lead partner, and cooperation will be continued with all municipalities of northeastern Estonia. During its first week of work, the team set forth a budget in the amount of 140,000 euros.
The keywords of the artistic concept of Narva 2024 developed in the preliminary application stage are "River -- Border -- Bridge," reflecting the Narva River that constitutes the natural border between two countries, and the bridge connecting different cultures, walks of life, identities and fates.
Ilmar Raag, who is mostly known as a filmmaker to the public now, described specifically the border identity as what makes Narva exciting.
"My father was born in Narva and my grandmother has told me stories about the city where I have never lived myself. My grandfather, who fell in the war, was an actor in Narva and my grandmother a ticket checker at one of Narva's cinemas. I have the feeling that the spirit of vibrant cultural life is intact there somewhere. Formally, Narva is the city where Europe begins. Of course, there's St. Petersburg nearby as the most European city of Russia, and some say that Narva is the most Russian city of Europe. Residents of Narva, however, say that Narva is Narva. Looking for humanness in borderline identities should prevail in various disputes. That's what we are looking for in Europe nowadays as well," he said.
Narva Mayor Aleksei Jevgrafov described the start made by the new team as productive.
"The candidacy for European Capital of Culture is extremely important for Narva. We have brought in the best experts and competences for a successful preparation in so short a period of time. For that reason were have again included also the company Shiftworks OU that developed the preliminary bid. Having communicated with the company, I found that their competences in individual fields are critical for the project's success," Jevgrafov said.
Jevgrafov expressed his gratitude to the team that productively worked on the preliminary bid, the Virumaa partners, and the regional lead partner Rakvere.
The chair of the council of Narva, Irina Janovits, said the council supports the further development of the bid of Narva for the status of European Capital of Culture.
"The candidacy for European Capital of Culture is important to the residents of Narva and our city's future. The council is prepared to create the conditions for carrying this project to a successful end," she said.
Ivan Sergejev, the city architect leading the team, said that a genuine dream team all members of which are committed to the common goal is working with the bid of Narva for the status of European Capital of Culture.
"Building on the preliminary bid that received a very positive assessment from the international committee, and bringing in such competence and energy, Narva is back in the game, running on equal terms with Tartu for the title of European Capital of Culture," he said.
The final bid setting out the program of events for the year when the city bears the title of European Capital of Culture and the period before it must be filed with the selection committee by Aug. 1, 2019. The winner is likely to be picked by the fall.
Three cities will bear the title of European Capital of Culture in 2024. In addition to one Estonian city, the title will be borne by one city in Austria and one city either from a member state of the European Free Trade Association, an EU candidate state, or potential candidate states Bosnia and Herzegovina and Kosovo.