Characteristic of volunteering in the European Capitals of Culture programmes, 2008 2022. Literature review and analysis.

Hajnalka Fényes - Éva Perpék - László Dorner


In our literature analysis, we examine the role of volunteering in the European Capital of Culture (ECOC) programmes. After a brief overview of the history of the ECOC, we aim to present the participation of cities in Central and Eastern Europe and the good practices of the programme and to summarise the experiences of motivating volunteers. We will also outline the characteristics of ECOC volunteers, the impact of the programmes on them, and finally, the impact of volunteering on the lives of the Capitals of Culture. With a few exceptions, cities in the Central and Eastern European region became involved in the programme after their accession to the European Union in 2004. Hungary, Romania, Poland, the Czech Republic, and Lithuania were included twice. In Hungary, Pécs won the ECOC title in 2010 and Veszprém and the Bakony-Balaton region in 2023. Based on the identification of good practices, the most important features of volunteering programmes are flexibility, responsiveness, diversity, training, recognition and appreciation of volunteers, effective communication, appropriate use of technology and legacy building. After analysing the motivations of the volunteers, it can be concluded that the majority of the volunteers involved in the programme feel enthusiastic about cultural programmes, responsible for the conservation of cultural heritage, and committed to the present and future of their communities, and who act as active citizens. The most commonly identified reasons for undertaking the activity are the desire to expand social contacts, to express commitment to the community, to develop the city economically and culturally, and to some extent to meet personal needs (e.g. work experience relevant to future job opportunities, skills development, etc.). Overall, the conclusion of our analysis is that the successful implementation of ECOC volunteering programmes depends on the application of the good practices identified in our research and thus, on maximizing the positive impact of volunteering on the Capitals of Culture.

Keywords: European Capital of Culture programmes, role of volunteering, good practices, motivations, impacts, literature analysis