The honour is awarded following a six year selection process, in which thirteen jury members gradually select the most qualified city.
“I am extremely happy and proud and we take this decision very seriously. We are going to show that we are one of Europe’s strong Capitals of Culture,” said Umeå’s local government representative Marie Louise Rönnmark at a Tuesday press conference.
According to jury member Philip Johnsson, it was Umeå’s emphasis on culture as a “developmental force” that won over the panel. Responding to a question by the chairman of the board for Värmland’s Opera, he stated that Umeå “had been very clear in its arguments: culture is not something restricted to the wives of business leaders.”
Umeå’s application prominently featured aspects of Sami culture and was based on the eight Sami seasons ranging from Gijrradálvvie (spring winter) to Dálvvie (winter). At the time of its application, however, the city panel lacked a Sami representative, leading the European jury to challenge Umeå to further develop its indigenous theme. The panel was eventually joined by representative Ellacarin Blind, who aimed to provide a “modern, serious image” of the Sami.
Under the heading of ‘Curiosity and Passion—the art of co-creation’, Umeå’s programme will feature symposiums, projects and festivals and will showcase the world premier for the multi-art work ‘Rock Art in Sápmi.’
The northernmost city to win the one year title, Umeå will share the distinction with a Latvian city to be named early next week.