The role of events in developing the cultural side of a city: Assessing events organized by European Capitals of Culture

Claudiu Coman, Maria Cristina Bularca, Adrian Otovescu

Cite: Coman C., Bularca M.C., Otovescu A. The role of events in developing the cultural side of a city: Assessing events organized by European Capitals of Culture. J. Digit. Art Humanit., 2(1), 3-18.

Abstract. People today are continuously searching for new experiences, and thus the events organized by a city can play an important role in influencing peoples’ decision to visit a certain city. In this regard, the title of European Capital of Culture can offer a city competitive advantage and it can help it improve its cultural as well as its social side. Hence, through the events organized while holding the title of European Capital of Culture, cities can better promote themselves as cultural cities, but they can also offer citizens and tourists diverse and interesting experiences and entertainment opportunities. Thus, we focused our research on the city of Aarhus. The purpose of our research was to assess the way Aarhus promoted itself through its events while having the title of European Capital of Culture in 2017, in order to extract some guidelines that could be further used as frame of reference by other cities in their development and promotion strategies. After analyzing one of the events organized by Aarhus- GrowOP – the only opera festival in Denmark designed for children, our findings revealed that the city used cultural events as a way to develop itself and attract tourists. The event was well organized, it was in line with the concept of the entire program of the city and through it, Aarhus aimed at integrating new and young audiences into its cultural life.

Keywords: cultural destination, events, capital of culture.


  1. Petrea, R., Petrea, D., Olău, P. E., Filimon, L.: Place branding as efficient management tool for local government. Transylvanian Review of Administrative Sciences, 9(SI), 124-140 (2013).
  2. Kotler, P., Keller, K. L., Brady, M., Goodman, M., Hansen, T.: Marketing management. Pearson Education Limited (2009).
  3. Bastos, W., Levy, S. J.: A history of the concept of branding: practice and theory. Journal of Historical Research in Marketing. 4(3), 347-368 (2012).
  4. Anholt, S.:What is competitive identity?. In Competitive identity (pp. 1-23). Palgrave Macmillan, London (2007).
  5. Briciu, V. A.,Briciu, A.: A brief history of brands and the evolution of place branding. Bulletin of the Transilvania University of Brasov, 9(58), 137-142 (2016).
  6. Anholt, S.: Definitions of place branding – Working towards a resolution. Place Branding and Public Diplomacy 6, 1–10 (2010).
  7. Dinnie, K.: Place branding: Overview of an emerging literature. Place branding, 1(1), 106-110 (2004).
  8. Anholt, S,: Place branding: Is it marketing, or isn’t it? Place Branding and Public Diplomacy 4, 1–6 (2008).
  9. Anholt, S.: Some important distinctions in place branding. Place Branding and Public Diplomacy, 1(2), 116-121 (2005).
  10. Andersson, I.: Geographies of Place Branding: Researching through small and medium sized cities [Doctoral dissertation] Stockholm University. (2015)., last accessed 2020/11/22.
  11. Briciu, V. A.: Differences between place branding and destination branding for local brand strategy development. Bulletin of the Transilvania University of Braşov, Series VII: Social Sciences and Law, (1), 9-14 (2013).
  12. Dumbrăveanu, D.: Place branding: a challenging process for Romania. Human Geographies: Journal of Studies and Research in Human Geography, 3(2), 39-48 (2009).
  13. Govers, R.: From place marketing to place branding and back. Place Branding and Public Diplomacy, 7(4), 227-231 (2011).
  14. Lazăr, D. T., Chirca, A.: Place Marketing. Cluj-Napoca City Case Study. Transylvanian Review of Administrative Sciences, 3(20), 30-42 (2007).
  15. Hanna, S., Rowley, J.: Towards a strategic place brand-management model. Journal of marketing management, 27(5-6), 458-476 (2011).
  16. Wheeler, A.: Designing brand identity: an essential guide for the whole branding team. 3rd ed. John Wiley & Sons (2009). 
  17. Ruzinskaite, J.: Place Branding: The Need for an Evaluative Framework [Doctoral dissertation] University of Huddersfield. (2015). 
  18. Jain, R.: Basic branding concepts: brand identity, brand image and brand equity. International Journal of Sales & Marketing Management Research and Development (IJSMMRD) 7(4), 1-8 (2017).
  19. Kavaratzis, M., Kalandides, A.: Rethinking the place brand: the interactive formation of place brands and the role of participatory place branding. Environment and Planning A, 47(6), 1368-1382 (2015).  doi:10.1177/0308518X15594918
  20. Vela, J. D. S. E.: Place branding: a conceptual and theoretical framework. Boletín de la Asociación de Geógrafos Españoles, (62), 467-471 (2013).
  21. Almeyda-Ibáñez, M., George, B. P.: Place branding in tourism: a review of theoretical approaches and management practices. Tourism & Management Studies, 13(4), 10-19 (2017).
  22. Govers, R.: Why place branding is not about logos and slogans.  Place Branding and Public Diplomacy, 9(2), 71-75, (2013) doi:10.1057/pb.2013.11
  23. Cai, L. A.: Cooperative branding for rural destinations. Annals of tourism research, 29(3), 720-742 (2002).
  24. Kavaratzis, M.: From city marketing to city branding: Towards a theoretical framework for developing city brands. Place branding, 1(1), 58-73 2004).
  25. Ferreira, P., Dionísio, A.: City Brand: What Are the Main Conditions for Territorial Performance? Sustainability, 11(14), 3959, 1-14 (2019).
  26. Cozmiuc, C.: City branding-just a compilation of marketable assets? Economy transdisciplinarity cognition, 14(1), 428-436 (2011).
  27. Stigel, J., Frimann, S.: City branding–all smoke, no fire?. Nordicom Review, 27(2), 243-266 (2006).
  28. Ruiz, E. C., la Cruz, D., Romero, E. R., Vázquez, F. J. C.: Sustainable tourism and residents’ perception towards the brand: The case of Malaga (Spain). Sustainability, 11(1), 292, 1-16 (2019)
  29. Noori, N., De Jong, M.: Towards Credible City Branding Practices: How Do Iran’s Largest Cities Face Ecological Modernization? Sustainability, 10(5), 1354, 1-16 (2018).
  30. Riza, M., Doratli, N., Fasli, M.: City branding and identity. Procedia-Social and Behavioral Sciences, 35, 293-300 (2012).
  31. Prilenska, V.: City branding as a tool for urban regeneration: Towards a theoretical framework. Architecture and urban planning, 6, 12-16 (2012).
  32. Kavaratzis, M.,Ashworth, G. J.: City branding: an effective assertion of identity or a transitory marketing trick?. Tijdschrift voor economische en sociale geografie, 96(5), 506-514 (2005).
  33. Bidgoli, S.J., Arani, A.A., Bidgoli, F.O.: City branding position and challenges. Indian Journal of Fundamental and Applied Life Sciences. 4(1), 166-173 (2014). 
  34. Yun, J. J., Zhao, X., Jung, K., Yigitcanlar, T.: The Culture for Open Innovation Dynamics. Sustainability, 12(12), 1-21 (2020).
  35. Lebron, A.: What is Culture? Merit Research Journal of Education and Review. 1(6), 126-132  (2013).
  36. United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization: Culture Urban Future:Global report on cuture for sustainable development. (2016)., last accessed 2021/04/30
  37. Mohamad, N. H. N., Ayob, L. Z. H.: Urban life and the changing city. Asian Social Science, 9(9), 156-162, (2013).
  38. Egoreichenko, A. B.: Cities of the Future: Socio-Cultural Aspect of Urban Innovations. In The European Proceedings of Social & Behavioural Sciences (pp. 1601-1609), (2018).
  39. Duxbury, N., Hosagrahar, J., & Pascual, J.: Why must culture be at the heart of sustainable urban development?. Agenda 21 for culture., last accessed 2021/04/30
  40. García-Hernández, M., la Calle-Vaquero, D., Yubero, C. :Cultural heritage and urban tourism: Historic city centers under pressure. Sustainability, 9(8), 1-19, (2017).
  41. Pratt, A. C.: Cities: The cultural dimension, , last accessed 2021/04/30
  42. Alvarez-Sousa, A.: The problems of tourist sustainability in cultural cities: Socio-political perceptions and interests management. Sustainability, 10(2), 1-30,(2018).
  43. Kourtit, K., Nijkamp, P., Romão, J.: Cultural Heritage Appraisal by Visitors to Global Cities: The Use of Social Media and Urban Analytics in Urban Buzz Research. Sustainability, 11(12), 1-2, (2019).
  44. Duxbury, N., Cullen, C., Pascual, J.: Cities, culture and sustainable development In H.K. Anheier, Y.R. Isar & M. Hoelscher (eds.), Cultural Policy and Governance in a New Metropolitan Age (pp. 73-86), Sage, (2012).
  45. Rodrigues, M., Franco, M.: Measuring the performance in creative cities: Proposal of a multidimensional model. Sustainability, 10(11), 1-21, (2018).
  46. Foster, G., Saleh, R.: The Adaptive Reuse of Cultural Heritage in European Circular City Plans: A Systematic Review. Sustainability, 13(5), 1-15 (2021).
  47. Henche, B. G., Salvaj, E., Cuesta-Valiño, P.: A sustainable management model for cultural creative tourism ecosystems. Sustainability, 12(22), 1-21, (2020).
  48. Zenker, S., Petersen, S., Aholt, A.: Development and implementation of the citizen satisfaction index (CSI): four basic factors of citizens’ satisfaction. Research Papers on Marketing and Retailing, 39(1), 1-19 (2009).
  49. Papazoglou, G. E.: Society and Culture: Cultural Policies Driven by Local Authorities as A Factor in Local Development—The Example of the Municipality of Xanthi-Greece. Heritage, 2(3), 2625-2639 (2019).
  50. Rosenstein, C.: Cultural development and city neighborhoods. City, culture and society, 2(1), 9-15 (2011).
  51. Tara-Lunga, M. O.: Major special events: an interpretative literature review. Management & Marketing, 7(4), 759-776 (2012).
  52. Richards, G., Palmer, R.: Why cities need to be eventful. In G. Richards, & R. Palmer (Eds.), Eventful cities: Cultural management and urban revitalization (pp. 1-37). Elsevier. (2010).
  53. Karabağ, S. F., Yavuz, M. C., Berggren, C.: The impact of festivals on city promotion: A comparative study of Turkish and Swedish festivals. Tourism (13327461), 59(4), 447-464 (2011).
  54. Van der Borg, J., Russo, A. P.: The impacts of culture on the economic development of cities. European Institute for Comparative Urban Research (EURICUR) Erasmus University Rotterdam (2005).
  55. Popescu, G. V.: From Local To Global With City Branding. Eco Forum, 6(1), 1-27 (2017).
  56. Golob, A., Jakulin, T. J.: Standardization and classification of events in tourism based on a systems approach. The European Journal of Applied Economics, 11(1), 67-73, (2014).
  57. Getz, D.: Event tourism: Definition, evolution, and research. Tourism management, 29(3), 403-428, (2008).
  58. Santos, J. D. F., Vareiro, L., Remoaldo, P., Cadima Ribeiro, J.: Cultural mega-events and the enhancement of a city’s image: differences between engaged participants and attendees. Journal of Policy Research in Tourism, Leisure and Events, 9(2), 129-151, (2017).
  59. Popescu, R. I., Corbos, R. A.: The role of festivals and cultural events in the strategic development of cities. Recommendations for urban areas in Romania. Informatica Economica, 16(4), 19-28, (2012).
  60. Fišer, S. Ž., Kožuh, I.: The impact of cultural events on community reputation and pride in Maribor, the European capital of culture 2012. Social Indicators Research, 142(3), 1055-1073, (2019).
  61. Hudec, O., Remoaldo, P. C., Urbančíková, N., Cadima Ribeiro, J. A.: Stepping out of the shadows: Legacy of the European Capitals of culture, Guimarães 2012 and Košice 2013. Sustainability, 11(5), 1-21, (2019).
  62. McCoshan, A.,  Rampton,J., Mozuraityte, N., McAteer N.: Ex-Post Evaluation of 2009 European Capitals of Culture., last accessed 2021/05/04
  63. Tim Fox, T., Rampton, J.: Ex-post Evaluation of the European Capitals of Culture, (2015). [report], last accessed 2021/05/04
  64. Quinn, B.: The European capital culture initiative and cultural legacy: an analysis of the cultural sector in the aftermath of Cork 2005. Event management, 13(4), 249-264 (2009).
  65. Liu, Y. D.: Event and sustainable culture led regeneration: Lessons from the 2008 European Capital of Culture, Liverpool. Sustainability, 11(7), 1869 (2019).
  66. Binns, L.: Capitalising on culture: an evaluation of culture-led urban regeneration policy. Futures Academy, Technological University Dublin. 2005., last accessed 2021/04/29
  67. Palmer, R. Richards, G.: European cultural capital report. Arnhem: ATLAS (2009). 
  68. Garcia, B., Cox, T.: European Capitals of Culture: success strategies and long-term effects: study. EUR-OP. (2013)., last accessed 2021/04/29
  69. Green, S.: Capitals of Culture. An introductory survey of a worldwide activity. [report] (2017)., last accessed 2021/04/29
  70. Richards, G., Rotariu, I. Sibiu European capital of culture 2007: evaluation report. Association for Tourism and Leisure Education (Atlas) (2007). 
  71. About Aarhus 2017,, last accessed 2021/04/29
  72. Aarhus 2017. Welcome future, , last accessed 2021/04/29
  73. Cultural policy, City of Aarhus,, last accessed 2021/04/29
  74. Aarhus 2017, Programme,, last accessed 2021/04/29
  75. Coman C., Bularca M.C., Otovescu A.: Promoting Cities as Cultural Destinations Through Events. Case Study: Aarhus European Capital of Culture. In: Antipova T. (eds) Advances in Digital Science. ICADS 2021. Advances in Intelligent Systems and Computing, vol 1352. Springer, Cham, (2021). ;
  76. CityLogo-Urbact, Innovative place brand management, [Report], , last accessed 2021/04/29
  77. Aarhus 2017, GrowOP! Festival,, last accesed 2021/04/29
  78. Behind GrowOP!, last accesed 2020/11/25
  79. Aarhus 2017, ECoC,, last accesed 2020/11/26
  80. GrowOP! Festival: just the beginning,, last accesed 2021/04/30

Published online 26.06.2021