Impact for Istanbul as a European City of Culture

Hosting an international sporting or cultural event is now big business, but putting on these events involves the investment of a lot of economic and political capital. And once the event is over, it is important to track, analyze and explain the benefits to the host country or city and its people.

The Turkish city of Istanbul was selected as a European Capital of Culture (ECoC) for 2010. It hosted a series of concerts, exhibitions, screenings and other cultural events. However, once the artists, musicians and performers had packed up and moved on, the organizers had little idea about how the event had changed the cultural life of the city, what the wider benefits were and whether the program’s objectives were fulfilled.

Leading stakeholders in the business world said ECoC 2010 created employment opportunities in sectors such as communication, operations, training and design.

With this in mind, the Istanbul 2010 ECoC Agency commissioned Ernst & Young to identify the main effects of being an ECoC and to share the results with the public, whose taxes had largely funded the events. So how did Ernst & Young approach this task? What techniques did they use to generate and analyze data and what did they find?

Meaningful conclusions could only be drawn if the data was reliable and wide ranging. So, pushing the limits to learn every little detail was a crucial phase of the impact study.

The assessment focused on four impact areas: participation and cross-cultural development; protection of cultural heritage; boosting tourism; and the image and promotion of Istanbul.

The results were favorable, for example:

  • Leading stakeholders in the business world stated that ECoC 2010 created employment opportunities in sectors such as communication, operations, training, design, management and the creative industries.
  • The number of companies operating in creative industries has increased by 23% since 2009.
  • Sixty percent of the tourists who participated in the survey stated that they knew that Istanbul was an ECoC for 2010 and 15% of them explained that hosting ECoC events was a factor in their decision to visit Istanbul.
  • Nearly two-thirds of those who took part in ECoC 2010 events said that they expected to participate in cultural and artistic activities more frequently after 2010 than they did before.
  • More than a third of participants stated that they developed their knowledge of different cultures thanks to the foreign participants in the activities.
  • Seventy percent of those who were aware that Istanbul was an ECoC for 2010 thought that works conducted within the scope of the program will have a long-term impact.

As well as measuring the impact of ECoC on Istanbul, the study also produced some findings that serve as learning points for the future. These learning points transformed the report from an impact analysis for client use into a guide for those who plan to organize similar events in the future.

The complete article was written by:

  • Bulent Ozan
    Director, Advisory Services, Ernst & Young, Turkey
  • Can Unver
    Senior Consultant, Advisory Services, Ernst & Young, Turkey

Read the full case studypdf1010.72 kB

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