“You must understand what Culture means to us. Culture is our pride. Culture is our sacrifices. Culture is our noblest symbol of excellence. Culture is a tribute to the democratic philosophy. Culture is our aspiration and our name. Culture is the essence of Greekness…”
These words were spoken 30 years ago at the Oxford Union. It is 1986 and the person who gave this passionate speech before such an honourable audience is none other than Melina Mercouri, the first woman to head the Ministry of Culture in a country considered to be the Cradle of European Culture.
We are talking about Culture, about yesterday’s Athens and today’s San Sebastian.
The quote that our publication opens with mentions the word Culture, which is not exactly the term that Melina Miscouri used in her speech. She was talking about the “Parthenon Marbles” and her country’s demand that the United Kingdom return them.
In reality, the Minister of Culture was defending, with vehemence and conviction, European Culture. That expression, so particular and at the same time so Universal, which makes us different and brings us together as Europeans.
The first city designated in 1985 as the European City of Culture could only be Athens. In 1999 this title was changed to European Capital of Culture and since then 52 cities have had the opportunity to revitalise their worldwide projection thanks to the significant socio-economic impact that this has. In 2016, it is now the turn for Wroclaw and San Sebastian.
Very close to IKOR China, the Expo 2010 Shanghai had as one of its slogans “Better City – better life”. Those of us who had the chance to visit the gigantic facility located between the Pudong and Puxi districts thought it was a brilliant idea and that it could go very well with the slogan chosen for our city at the start of the European Capital of Culture project, “Culture for coexistence”.
For this purpose, more than 400 cultural activities for all kinds of audiences will take place throughout the year. There will be exhibitions, concerts, theatre, dance, literature, and gastronomy, in which more than 500 artists from all over Europe will participate. This wide range of cultural events, together with prestigious international festivals like the San Sebastian Film Festival, Heineken Jazzaldia, and the Musical Fortnight, make San Sebastian a cultural reference point not to be missed in 2016.
The European Capital of Culture 2016 now becomes a sounding board towards Europe and the world, to definitively position San Sebastian and Gipuzkoa as references in innovation. For this reason the DSSINNOVA2016 project will be presented as a community of businesses, technology centres, R&D&i centres and business associations linked to innovation. IKOR is collaborating with this project with two aims:
- To help to build the Donostia San Sebastian Innovation City brand.
- To create and give visibility to this network of companies with an innovative profile in the region.
When speaking about Culture and San Sebastian, it is impossible not to talk about Gastronomy. The gastronomic programme of San Sebastian 2016 was presented by the director-general of the project, Pablo Berástegui. The event was also used to present in society the “Melina Mercouri” pintxo, a reinterpretation of San Sebastian’s typical ‘gilda’, created by chef Pedro Subijana, from the Akelarre restaurant.
The recipe will be shared with the city’s caterers, so that they can also offer it at their premises during the European Capital of Culture year.
A magnificent tributes to such a distinguished woman, and to her brave initiative, to end this small article.
A few months ago we asked the same question, — are you coming to San Sebastian?
There’s no excuse now!
Melina Mercouri pintxo:http://paladaressiglo21.blogspot.com.es/2015/10/melina-mercuri-el-pintxo-de-san.html
Oxford Union – Melina Mercouri speech (1986): https://amarfer.webs.ull.es/partenon/discursopar.html
European Capital of Culture 2016 (San Sebastian – Tourism):