In less than seven years, cultural tourists will flock to Perugia and Assisi to soak up the cities’ rich cultural, architectural, and religious heritage – if all goes according to the plans of PerugiAssisi 2019, Università degli Studi Professor Luca Ferrucci told the Clemson University class during his guest lecture at the Umbra Institute Wednesday afternoon.
An alliance between the neighboring Umbrian cities, PerugiAssisi 2019 is striving to make Perugia and Assisi a joint European Capital of Culture in 2019, an honor that will be held by an Italian city and a Bulgarian city that year, said Ferrucci, who volunteers for the local association.
Since 1985, an international panel from the European Union has designated one or two European cities the “Capital(s) of Culture” for the period of one year, during which each city organizes a series of cultural festivals that are the focus of the international eye.
The EU’s goal is to bring Europeans closer together by highlighting the richness and diversity of European cultures and raising awareness of their common history and values, Ferrucci explained. However, the annual honor has a secondary, more enduring effect: Cities, selected and potential alike, reap benefits. Studies have shown impressive socio-economic development in cities before and after earning the title of European Capital of Culture, Ferrucci said. In addition to this stability, the honor raises the city’s profile in the eyes of the international community and its residents. He noted the case of Glasgow, Scotland, which has shifted from a primarily industrial, dirty city to a cultural hub since its year in the spotlight in 1990.
With such advantages, the title of European Capital of Culture is very competitive. Candidate cities begin to be reviewed six years before their designated term. To select the winning cities, the EU panel employs a variety of criteria, including a proposal for the series of cultural festivals, realization of projects that focus on a cohesion of architectural heritage and urban development, promotion of actions that allow for diversity and young people’s access to culture and work, demonstrated enthusiasm of the residents, and more.
With the help of the community residents, businesses, and other organizations, PerugiAssisi 2019 is prepared to excel at these criteria, Ferrucci told the Clemson students.
“I didn’t realize any of this was going on,” Clemson student Matt McCordy told the Umbra Institute after the group applauded Ferrucci. “I thought it was really interesting – it’d be sweet if Perugia won.”
Clemson visiting professors Tom Baker and Tracy Meyer said that Ferrucci’s description of the PerugiAssisi 2019’s marketing and economics strategies added an interesting twist to their curriculum for the faculty-led program.
“Now when they see an ad promoting this, they’ll know what it’s about and feel connected,” Meyer said, adding, “And they’ll know exactly how much work goes into it.”
Baker agreed, “It gives the students a sense of how marketing works on an international level … they see the importance of tourism and how important this is for (Perugia).”