The general aim of this research is to examine how cultural policy is being used by cities as a means of enhancing urban economic growth and addressing social problems. This is done by comparing the European Capital of Culture (ECoC) programme in three cities: Glasgow (1990), Rotterdam (2001), and Liverpool (2008). Established in 1985, the ECoC has come to epitomize culture-led urban regeneration strategies, evolving from a purely cultural initiative to an event that is being embraced by cities as a socio-economic panacea. In this regard, a discrepancy seems to exist between the overhyped narrative surrounding the ECoC and the unconvincing evidence in support of the claims about the regenerative effects of culture. Examining whether culture can truly be economically and socially transformative is therefore the main concern of this thesis. Applying an original analytical framework based on Franco Bianchini’s strategic policy dilemmas, the research comprises of two parts, one comparing the aims and approaches (Chapter 3), and the other analysing the outcomes of the three ECoC programmes (Chapter 4). Placing the cities on the policy dilemma spectrum is the first step in understanding the link between the different approaches to the ECoC and their results, which are examined in Chapter 4. Here, the economic and social outcomes of the events are compared, identifying the different mechanisms and channels through which the cultural input is translated into economic and social outputs, stressing the difference between short-term benefits and long-lasting legacies. Based on this, a conclusion is drawn regarding the effectiveness of the Glasgow, Rotterdam, and Liverpool models of ECoC in producing widespread and sustainable economic and social impacts.

global markets, local creativities, glocal, European Capital of Culture, Glasgow, Rotterdam, Liverpool, cultural policy, culture-led urban regeneration, city branding, urban development
P. van de Laar
Global Markets, Local Creativities (GLOCAL)
Erasmus School of History, Culture and Communication

M. Kovacevic. (2019, June 15). Can Culture Regenerate?. Global Markets, Local Creativities (GLOCAL). Retrieved from