What can we expect from the ECoD Programme Year?
Mathis: Between September 2023 and August 2024, the very first European Capital of Democracy will host a whole series of activities to celebrate democracy, debate pressing challenges, and showcase best practices. Together with a wide range of partners, we are working to create an engaging, diverse, and inclusive programme for a Europe-wide audience.
Alongside more traditional events like conferences and exhibitions, there will be a whole host of innovative formats, including hackathons, interactive theatre, public interventions, festivals, and participatory projects. And this list is definitely not meant to be exhaustive – we are open to bold and creative proposals.
What is the aim of the ECoD Programme Year?
Mathis: Our goal is to create an inclusive democratic experience that attracts people from all walks of life. We want to bring different voices to the table to hear their ideas, perspectives and concerns. A big threat to our democracy is the lack of interaction between different communities – we don’t talk to each other enough, especially to people from outside of our own bubbles. That’s why we are looking for a broad range of partners who can reach out to different audiences to actively engage them in a dialogue on our democratic future.
We want to avoid hosting a series of isolated events taking place behind closed doors in a conference room somewhere. Instead, the idea is to establish a close connection to the residents of the title-holding city. They will be a cornerstone of the programme, every activity in the Programme Year should be a chance for them to get involved.
Who can contribute?
Mathis: Anyone who is passionate about democracy and is dedicated to innovating it: Institutions, networks, civil society organisations, businesses, associations, youth groups – all kinds of organisations who have a stake in democracy. As leaders in your field, we want your creative ideas. Since we want to reach as many different communities and groups as possible, we are looking for the broadest possible range of partners. Whoever you are, we want to hear your ideas.
What advantages are there for contributors?
Mathis: First and foremost, you will be part of a democratic experiment, something wide-ranging and totally unprecedented. The Programme Year is an attractive stage with visibility across Europe for your organisation or your initiative. It’s also your chance to test new formats, reach new audiences, and network with a large community of democratic innovators and like-minded organisations.
Once the title city has been announced, we will be opening a local office there, which will support you in the organisation and implementation of your event. We will also be working closely with the city administration to ensure that the programme goes smoothly and to provide access to its social infrastructure.
How can I or my organisation get involved?
Mathis: If you would like to get involved, or are just curious and would like to find out more, just send me an email, and we can set up a call. It doesn’t matter what stage you are at with your proposal – we are here to share and discuss ideas, co-create and support you. We’d be really delighted if you would consider being a part of the biggest ever celebration of European democracy.