EUROPEAN CAPITAL OF CULTURE PLOVDIV 2019: EFFECTS THROUGH THE LENS OF THE LOCAL COMMUNITY
Keywords:European Capital of Culture, impacts assessment, residents’ perceptions, Plovdiv (Bulgaria)
The paper deals with the impacts of hosting the European Capital of Culture (ECOC) by the Bulgarian city of Plovdiv in 2019 through the lens of the local community. Based on a survey conducted in 2021 with 444 residents, the perceived effects of the initiative were discussed in four domains: (1) Cultural, (2) Economic, (3) Social, and (4) Urban environment and atmosphere. Descriptive statistics techniques and analysis of variance were applied to interpret the data and outline the differences in the perceptions affected by respondents’ socio-demographic characteristics. The findings indicate that in general, the ECOC impacts are perceived rather positively, although the locals are hesitant if benefits outweigh the costs incurred. None of the impacts is perceived as high by the survey participants, with mean values of agreement hardly reaching four on a 5-grade scale. The most recognized positive effects refer to the city’s cultural life and the opportunities for local artists to perform; next come benefits for tourism development and promotion along with improvements in urban environment and infrastructure resulting from the ECOC implementation. Less clearly perceived are negative effects such as the price rise and the preference given to tourists over the locals. Significant differences in perceptions are determined by respondents’ education, personal involvement in the ECOC organization, age, gender, and sphere of professional activity. However, such differences are found in roughly half of all 22 statements under study, meaning that certain perceptions depend on the socio-demographic profile while others do not.
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