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A Journey to the capitals of tomorrow: Bad Ischl – Salzkammergut 2024

After Graz 2003 and Linz 2009, Bad Ischl will be Austria's third European Capital of Culture in 2024. ECOC News conducted an interview with Christina Jaritsch, Communication, Public Relations and Evaluation manager of Bad Ischl-Salzkammergut to find out why the city decided to apply for the European Capital of Culture title and what our Austrian colleagues wish to achieve with the title.

14. Jul Kaidi-Lisa Kivisalu

A spa town in Austria, Bad Ischl is located in the heart of the Salzkammergut region in southern Austria, on the banks of the Traun River. In 1849, the emperor of Austria Franz Joseph chose to establish a summer palace there. The villa became the summer residence of the royal family; Franz Joseph called it “heaven on earth.”

Like Tartu 2024, Bad Ischl is the European Capital of Culture in 2024 with local municipalities. 23 municipalities constitute Salzkammergut region. The theme of the region’s bid was “Salt and Water as DNA.” The bid’s aim was to rejuvenate the region’s cultural life with the necessary pinch of salt and the power of water. Another goal was to develop the area’s tourism industry and make it more sustainable.

Why did the city decide to become the European Capital of Culture?

First of all, Bad Ischl – Salzkammergut 2024 is the first European Capital of Culture taking place in a rural alpine region. This characteristic shaped the application for the title. Salzkammergut 2024 is a truly regional application with a conglomerate of relatively small municipalities, which influences the dynamic of the process as well. Being a regional European Capital of Culture means rebalancing and connecting the region and establishing one spirit out of a diversity of identities.

What changes are expected for the reference community?

In our case, the reference community is the 23 municipalities. We want to emphasize the feeling of Europeanness in the rural region of Salzkammergut and the feeling of togetherness within the region without excluding elements. Furthermore, we expect positive changes in the self-confidence of the local cultural sector as well as in the acceptance of new and unknown art forms.

What are the three keywords of your cultural programme?

In our case, there are two keywords of our cultural programme: Salt and Water. Both are main elements that shaped Salzkammergut as we now know and love it. They have a big historical importance and have influenced the local culture ever since. We chose it as our main motto for our programme. You can already feel the Salty Spirit in the region because culture will be our New Salt.

What are the main citizen involvement activities?

Our Bidbook was developed in a bottom-up process. From the beginning, citizens were involved a lot and imagined a vibrant cultural region with us which we now want to build for the title year and beyond.

What do you want to remain after the European Capital of Culture year?

Real and Salty…. and a little bit quirky.

Read the full-length article on the ECOC News website