Hannover, December 12, 2019: Hundreds of people are crowded together in the city's new town hall, the atmosphere is tense. On a big screen you can see a woman, it is the jury chairwoman Sylvia Ammann who is in the process of announcing the cities that have made it into the final round of European Capital of Culture 2025. And then, finally, she says the redeeming word: “Hannover!” The cheers break out in the new town hall. In retrospect, comparisons are made with a soccer World Cup, it was like the decisive penalty in additional time.
The team of the Hannoverian European Capital of Culture bid, led by Melanie Botzki and Inga Samii, made it. With their unique concept, they won over the international jury, but also the residents of the Hannover region. Because Hanover's bid for European Capital of Culture 2025 is different. Unlike what you have ever seen in this 35-year competition.
In terms of content, the application focuses on Europe. As described in our first bid book, Hannover is to become the “Agora of Europe”. The place where people come together and discuss big European issues. While nations are nowadays barely able to initiate real change due to agreements and obligations, cities are taking on this task more and more. This is where the big challenges come together, where they are solved: Cities are the activists of the future! And Hannover wants to be the artistic negotiating space in 2025. Climate change, racism, migration: as a strong city, as a city in balance, Hannover wants to address and advance discourses in an artistic way. This is not only clear from the large number of projects in the second bid book. But because this corresponds to the cosmopolitan attitude of Hannover's residents, who were involved in a wide variety of ways during the bid. Whether in the various committees and think tanks or at public events such as the kiosk tour or regional tour: the bid was created in constant exchange with the city's community and thus also reflects their open attitude.
The presentation of the content is also very convincing: the international jury of experts praised Hannover's “inspiring concept”. The local newspaper Hannoversche Allgemeine Zeitung (HAZ) ruled that the application was "charmingly self-deprecating and has an almost daring will to art" - a risk, as the editors say, but also "the chance of winning the title."
No suprise: The team presents its contents in an artistic way every time, shirking the other candidate cities. From the white “Hannover has nothing” poster that only reveals its secret under black light, from poetry slams, dystopian radio plays and readings out of “Agora of Europe”, the first bid book, which has been awarded some of the most important design prizes in the world: the iF Design Award, the red dot Award and the German Design Award.
The strategy works: the presentations are a topic of conversation in the city's society, they emotionalize the residents, they mobilize them. A line that will continue to be implemented in the future.
By submitting our second bid book, we have taken the next step. "Normality is not an option" was the motto - which we made clear with an activist campaign at the New Town Hall. Not only the Hannoverian press was enthusiastic and sees Hannover in the top position for the title: “The solidarity with the competitors is a strong, credible contribution. [...] It would be a very good choice."
Politicians (“Simply Wow!”, “The bar for other cities is now very high!”) And the cultural scene in Hannover are enthusiastic: “It is unique that a city formulates solidarity so practically,” said Sonja Anders, director of the Schauspiel Hannover, to HAZ. She appreciates the "performance character" of the bid and also the "hubris of global thinking" that is expressed in the bid.
Kathleen Rahn, the head of the Kunstverein, thinks the bid's “hugging gesture” is very good. She appreciates "the idea of participation" and praises "the idea of the non-competitive". And opera director Laura Berman sees a "very constructive attitude towards the here and now". She sees the "humorous creativity" and the "willingness to take risks" as very inspiring. Matthias Ilkenhans from the NDR Radiophilharmonie also considers the plans to be successful and promising: They are "original, creative and close to people."
No wonder: the bid doesn't just come from Hannover, it is Hannover.