TALLINN - The European Commission has awarded the Tartu 2024 foundation, responsible for the city's European Capital of Culture program, with the Melina Mercouri Prize, worth 1.5 million euros, for the successful preparation and diversity of the program.
The European Commission also highlighted the diversity of the Tartu 2024 program in its decision.
"The expert committee appreciated Tartu 2024's efforts to offer visitors a variety of events throughout the year, unveiling the cultural heritage of southern Estonia in less-seen areas, interweaving the local with the international," Kuldar Leis, director of Tartu 2024, said.
The prize will be presented to Tartu 2024 by the European commissioner for culture in Tartu on Jan. 26, marking the start of the European Capital of Culture opening ceremony. The award will be used to enhance the capital's cultural events.
Mayor of Tartu and chairman of the Tartu 2024 supervisory board Urmas Klaas believes the award indicates that the efforts of the cultural capital have been recognized in Europe.
"One of the strengths of Tartu is definitely our collaboration with the entire South Estonia, bringing our unique culture to a broader audience. The cultural capital year will bring here many international cultural figures from around the world, and there will be much to discover in 2024," Klaas said.
Kuldar Leis noted that Tartu 2024 will distribute the Melina Mercouri Prize throughout the year, mainly to culture capital events with large audiences. For instance, the prize will support events such as the Car-Free Avenue's summer party, the performance of Veljo Tormis' “Forgotten Peoples” by the Paris Philharmonic, and a solo exhibition by Japanese artist Ryoji Ikeda at the Estonian National Museum, as well as bringing world-famous artists to Tartu and the closing event of the cultural capital year.
The award is named after Melina Mercouri, the Greek politician and actress who originated the idea of the European capitals of culture. Cities holding the title of European Capital of Culture can compete for the prize if they fulfill their objectives and can prove it through reports.
Tartu 2024's budget for organizing the European Capital of Culture, including the Melina Mercouri Prize, totals 26 million euros for five years.