In November 1983, Melina Mercouri, the then Greek Minister of Culture, proposed that Europe name a “European City of Culture” each year. The decision was unanimously adopted and introduced a wider cultural dimension to the European Community, traditionally built on commercial and economic bases.
Strongly symbolic, the year 2000 saw 9 cities named to represent the cultural diversity of the European community. Avignon, Bergen, Bologna, Brussels, Krakow, Helsinki, Prague, Reykjavik and Santiago de Compostela, worked closely together on many different themes, and on three levels – local, national and European. Avignon chose the theme of Art and Creativity, and hosted the French national exhibition called “La Beauté”, a retrospective of the concept of beauty in the 20th century. This vast event featured international artists and work done by local artists.
The philosophy behind the local participation was based on the continuity of Avignon’s history, and its future. The theme of Art and Creativity emphasises both Avignon’s long-standing fertile artistic activity and its current vitality in the artistic field.