Rotterdam is on the eve of what could be yet another important happening in its cultural history: becoming Cultural Capital of Europe in 2001. The largest and most important port in the world would form a unique backdrop for cultural capital. Not only literally, but more importantly in terms of the cultural significance. The port as a symbol of a change, innovation, as backdrop for the 'city in motion'.
However, Rotterdam Cultural Capital will not just be a cultural festival lasting one year. That is not enough. Rotterdam Cultural Capital 2001 must leave its mark far into the 21st century. In order to deepen, refine and broaden the city's urban and cultural life, as well as make a leap forwards, an extra impulse is needed. The Cultural Capital year is such an impulse and it also sets a new standard.
The Cultural Capital Year will be approached thematically. Such a series of events throughout the year (performances, exhibitions, commissions, investments) cannot, and must not, be organised and presented in an uncoordinated way. First of all, Rotterdam wants to find answers to the question of how the multicultural society has developed and continues to do so. There is a conviction that answers will only be found after a great deal of extra effort by the cultural sectors. Another consideration point is the link between the established cultural order and the new generations. If only to discover this link, it is logical that the young and their culture will have to form a central theme in the year as cultural capital. Rotterdam Cultural Capital must offer new generations the opportunity to realize their, perhaps as yet unexpressed, desires and dreams. In addition, Rotterdam has always done its best to allow cities and urban agglomerations to play an important role in Europe. In this respect, international cooperation between the cities is very important. Close relations have emerged between a number of cultural institutions and fellow institutions abroad. Furthermore, contact has been sought with cities such as Gdansk, St. Petersburg, Budapest and Bilbao, in preparation for the candidature.
Rotterdam wants to make the Cultural Capital year a truly 'European' year. Not by focusing exclusively on Europe but by using its contacts to try to involve other cultural spheres too. Rotterdam wants to show how dynamic and open its culture is during the year as cultural capital.
To summarise, Rotterdam Cultural Capital must be seen as a means of further developing the city and its cultural life together. The year will function, in this way, as a bridge: between city and region, between old and new cultures and between local and international artists and cultural institutions. A year as Cultural Capital also serves as a bridge to the future; it offers the opportunity to ponder on what has been achieved and it is a time to consider how Rotterdam and its culture should enter the 21st century. The mirror formed by Cultural Capital 2001 will reflect a new society.