"Power to the People? Participation as Practice in St. Pölten's Application as European Capital of Culture 2024"

Michael Duscher, Managing Director, NÖ Kulturlandeshauptstadt St. Pölten GmbH

The application of St. Pölten as European Capital of Culture 2024 is accompanied by a broad process of participation since the very beginning. The engagement of the citizens' initiative KulturhauptSTART initiated the application process by organising regular meetings as early as 2016.

The involvement of the local population and civil society is one of six award criteria in the bidding process for the title “European Capital of Culture 2024”. Following the original participation “spirit”, the St. Pölten 2024 office has created various formats throughout the year 2018 in order to realize bottom up participation of citizens, stakeholders, citizens’ initiatives and marginalised groups in the project and to be able to integrate local and regional know-how in the application.

How shall the inputs and results of these participation processes be translated, transformed and integrated in the development of both strategy and concept for the European Capital of Culture 2024? In his lecture, Michael Duscher, the Managing Director of the St. Pölten 2024 office, gives an overview on these challenges with regard to the on-going participation process in this project and its related projects in cultural strategy development, audience development, cultural education & mediation as well as urban/regional/spatial development.


"Imagination Sets You Free"

Helen Marriage
, Director, Artichoke (UK)

We live in a world ruled by devices and screens, where we can experience pretty much anything through a touch of a button. Helen Marriage, founder of arts charity Artichoke, asks what happens when you log off and connect to the world around you?

In this talk, Helen contemplates how collective imagination and the vision of artists can transform our public spaces and create new connections with our surroundings and those around us.

Through Artichoke, Helen seeks to create moving, ephemeral artistic events that reveal beauty among ruins, re-examine history and whimsically demonstrate what’s possible. Transforming the way we experience the world around us can forever change how we feel about those we 
share the planet with.

Helen Marriage is the Director of Artichoke, which she founded with Nicky Webb in 2005. Her previous work includes a seven-year period as Director of the Salisbury Festival which she transformed from a local affair to what The Times described as a ‘miracle of modern British culture’.

Helen went to Salisbury after creating the first Arts & Events programme for Olympia & York, the developers of Canary Wharf in London.  Prior to that she was an Associate Director of the London International Festival of Theatre (LIFT).  She began her working life at Artsadmin where she managed a variety of independent artists in the early 1980s.

In 2012, she was awarded a Loeb Fellowship at Harvard Graduate School of Design, a prestigious fellowship awarded to individuals working in the area of urban design and planning. Her appointment was an acknowledgement of the impact Artichoke has made on the way mass public art events are negotiated and staged.  She was awarded an MBE for services to the arts in the New Year’s Honours list in 2016.