GRAZ TWO THOUSAND THREE - Cultural Capital of Europe



The Cultural Capital year is over. Yet Graz remains a capital of culture, though certainly not in exactly the same way as before. The effects of the added value that accumulated in the course of the year 2003 will remain. For how long? That depends on the commitment of politicians and the public.

It was a fantastic year because you, our audience, our allies, responded so wonderfully to our programme and to the events we organised. The entire city was transformed into a vast stage, and you were not just extras in some play, but the main protagonists in an exciting chapter of the history of Graz.

Our visitors came from all over the world. The events received media coverage everywhere in the world. The “miracle of Graz” is still the talk of every town. Why a miracle? Because an entire city redefined itself almost overnight through the medium of culture and retained its new, positive orientation for more than a year.

Our first slogan was “Graz – who would have guessed?”, followed by “Graz – anything goes” and “Graz flies”. At the end of our magical year, these slogans caught up with us – and, in the event, everything turned out the way we had planned. But it could not have done so if you, our audience, had not consented to become a physical and spiritual part of the programme, had not supported it and actively joined in. You brought about the fulfilment of our great expectations. It would be hard to find a single resident of Graz who did not participate in the events of the cultural capital at least once during the year, who did not partake of culture wholesale or at least briefly test the cultural waters.

Graz 2003 was a vast urban entertainment in which we explored ways to communicate and live together better, ways to venture the new without jeopardising the old, and ways to open ourselves to strangeness and unfamiliarity instead of continuing to reject it. And, most importantly, ways to find our place in the new Europe while not surrendering our identity, but actually strengthening it. Today, we have a clearer idea of who we are, what we can do, and what we ought not to do in the future. And Europe knows it too, because Europe was here to watch and listen.

You and everyone who actively supported and participated in the year’s events as members of an urban community united through culture – you all formed part of a powerful transmitter whose signals were received all over Europe and beyond. In 2003, the world heard about Graz and listened to Graz. Our message was that we were proud to be the Cultural Capital of Europe, and that we made the most of the opportunity in order to serve as an example both to ourselves and to Europe in general. May the year 2003 not merely be remembered as a special chapter in the history of Graz, but make its impact felt for many years to come.

Wolfgang Lorenz
Director, Graz 2003 – Cultural Capital of Europe