Swedish culture capital to attract new residents

Swedish culture capital to attract new residents
With northern Swedish town Umeå set to become the European Capital of Culture next year, The Local finds out how the arts accolade could boost the city's growth with local officials hoping to almost double the town's population.

The event organizers Umeå2014 is going to host two seminars in upcoming political conference week Almedalen about culture-driven growth for the town of 117,000 people.

Located in Västerbotten County, Umeå is known chiefly as an academic centre with about 37,000 students. In six months’ time, the town is bound to be the European Capital of Culture.

Community officials hope the title will help drive economic and cultural growth across Sweden’s northern region, in 2014 and beyond.

“We don’t want to create sparkling events that everybody will forget once 2015 comes along. We believe that we have to cooperate here in the north,” Marit Andersson, Media Communicator of Umeå2014, told The Local.

Putting the town firmly on Europe’s culture map could also make it a more attractive town to live in, organizers hope.

“The Capital Culture project is part of our desire to reach 200,000 inhabitants in Umeå by 2050. As a whole, we want to develop the city and it is a long way to go,” Andersson said of the target to near double the town’s population in four decades.

As the northern location of Umeå makes the trip there for would-be tourists considerable, Umeå2014 will also export its cultural events across the continent.

“We will do a European tour in September and October in eight big cities in Europe, to talk about the north and to promote it,” Andersson said.

“To reach European citizens, we also have a creative competition called ‘Caught by Umeå’ where people can create artworks inspired by their perception of the north,” Andersson said.

Umeå will also be cooperating with nearby towns (by northern standards) Piteå and Örnsköldsvik.

“Today, Piteå will inaugurate their own cultural centre and they have a Capital of Culture office,” Andersson said.

The smaller town is already a flag bearer, of sorts, as a central roundabout in Örnsköldsvik now sports the Umeå2014 smiling-heart logo.

The town is the first spot on the cross-region “Art on track” project, where art lovers will be treated to installations along the Bothnia Line railway. Stations in between Sundsvall, Nordmaling, and Örnskölsvik will be adorned with art work.

Just like the Stockholm metro takes everyday commuters and tourists on an artistic trip every day, the “Art on track” project will shuttle passengers along a reinvented Bothnia Line.

Elodie Pradet

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