On 30 September we submitted our application for the title of European Capital of Culture 2025 in Berlin to the Cultural Foundation of the Federal States.

Before that we had started a small countdown:

25 good reasons!

Why Chemnitz has what it takes to become European Capital of Culture.

    <We have the highest work of art in the world.

Chimneys determined the townscape when Chemnitz became the leading industrial city in Germany. Today, our 302-meter-high chimney is the highest work of art in the world thanks to 168 LEDs, designed by the French artist Daniel Buren. (Photo: eins/Zschage)

    <We come from Karl-Marx-Stadt

There is no one in the world who is between 30 and 65 years old and born in Chemnitz. This is the great peculiarity of an urban history that has a lot to do with the upheavals and upheavals in Europe. (Photo: Stefan Weber)

    <We have the most international university in Saxony

With about 3,000 international students, which corresponds to a share of more than 25 percent, Chemnitz University of Technology is the most international university in Saxony and one of the top universities in Germany. People from more than 90 nations study, research and teach at Chemnitz University of Technology.

    <We'll show some attitude.

Never before has a city organised a concert with 65,000 visitors in the middle of the city centre faster than Chemnitz. #September 2018 was the moment when we knew: European Capital of Culture – that’s exactly what we wanted. (Photo: Ernesto Uhlmann)

    <We have the Chemnitz model.

With the tram across the region – to Mittweida, to Hainichen, to Aue, to Oelsnitz, to Limbach-Oberfrohna, to Burgstädt, to Annaberg-Buchholz, to Olbernhau… What the public transport system will make tangible in the coming years, we will make tangible as a cultural region. Sometimes the good is just very close at hand.

    <We always think of something.

It is not without reason that the text of the German Patent Act was written by the Lord Mayor of Chemnitz, Dr. Wilhelm André. In the 19th century, Chemnitz had risen to become a respected industrial city, also thanks to numerous inventions which had to be protected against imitation. The number of patent applications from Chemnitz in 1891 is said to have exceeded the imperial average six times. This has a lasting effect: We can still invent today – with success.

    <We can do barrier-free festival

“Barrier-free Festival” is a project of the KulTh e.V. from Chemnitz. The association clarifies in advance how the special needs of e.g. wheelchair users, people with Down syndrome, blind people, autistic people or people with severe multiple disabilities can be met at the festival. A team of volunteers is on site around the clock during the events and can provide direct support in case of questions and problems. At the Cosmonaut Festival, for example, there is a barrier-free camp, power connections for charging electric wheelchairs or the possibility to store medicines in a cool place. This makes it possible to experience great moments together, without barriers or restrictions – at the same time, at the same place – according to the motto of KulTh e.V.: Culture. Participation. Inclusion. (Photo: KulTh e.V.)

    <We're going to make a racket.

The support programme for start-ups in the cultural and creative industries provides rent-free commercial space for up to three years at the very location where a young creative scene is developing. In addition, the award winners receive a start-up budget of 5000 euros and expert advice on all aspects of setting up a business. In two funding rounds so far, 15 rooms have been awarded to young designers, software developers or a centre for the performing arts. KRACH was inspired by Bologna’s successful “IncrediBOL!” programme and has been serving the special needs of the cultural and creative industries in Chemnitz since 2018.

    <We are boundless sports enthusiasts

And fit for title races. Over 10,000 participants in the company race, the Heavy 24 as the largest 24-hour mountain bike race in the new federal states, the reservoir marathon, the Fichtelberg Ultra, the Chemlympics, the slackfest, night skating, Bring Da TruckaZ… A lot of top-class sport and good conditions for the young competitive athletes. In Chemnitz, sport is part of the DNA and the city culture.

    <We are passionate fighters

The preservation of the viaduct as a monument of industrial history with an impact on the cityscape is a particular example of the power of civic commitment. But it is by no means the only one. The learning and memorial site Kaßberg prison, the tram museum and the museum for Saxon vehicles, the Karl Schmidt Rottluff ensemble, the Küchwald stage, the railway facilities in Hilbersdorf – this incomplete list alone speaks volumes about the passion of the people of Chemnitz for their city.

  1. We have a constantly growing open air gallery

Thanks to a cross-disciplinary and cross-generational cooperation of regional and international artists, more and more facades are becoming colourful in Chemnitz. In addition to the transfer of knowledge and artistic exchange between the actors, the project aims to advertise on a large scale for the cooperation of the city society.

    <We have plenty of room.

In Chemnitz there is still enough space for experiments, a lot of space for ideas. A potential that we would like to use intensively in the coming years – preferably with creative people from all over the world. It is not for nothing that our cultural strategy until 2030 is called “Give culture space”.

    <With us you can discover the Eastern Modernism

It may be that we ourselves are always struggling with our cityscape: no cosy alleys, no old town, no pomp. No city like so many others! But isn’t that actually a pound? 30 years after the fall of the Wall, interest in the history of the GDR and the Wende is growing noticeably, including the architecture and design of the era. A topic on which we not only have a lot to tell and work through, but also to show.

    <We have one of the oldest natural monuments

Chemnitz stands on volcanic rock. Erupted about 291 million years ago, a volcano buried all life – a catastrophe that is considered a stroke of luck today, because the ashes preserved the former flora and fauna. Not only our Petrified Forest was excavated as one of the most important collections of pebble wood in the world, but also many other scientific treasures such as a several-metre-long horsetail. To this day, the EU-funded project “Window on the History of the Earth”, which is especially accessible to children, makes it possible for them to learn about the history of the Earth through palaeontological excavation.

    <We love microprojects

The summer of two years ago. On our way to becoming the European Capital of Culture in 2025, we wanted to encourage people to bring their own small projects into city life – and set up a support programme for micro-projects. With great success, because many projects still have an impact today. So far, the support of up to 2500 euros has enabled the creators to create various workshops, designs, symposia, performances, workshops, new event formats, artistic experiments, discussion groups, intercultural encounters, district projects, fan culture, thematic walks – just this small step from “You’ve got to do it…” to “Let’s just do it…”. A total of almost 200 applications were submitted in the past two years and 43 projects were funded with approximately 73,000 euros. The selection is made by a jury of Chemnitz residents appointed by the programme council of the application.

    <Our economy promotes culture

Under the motto “Culture needs Economy – Economy needs Culture”, the KLUB 2025, an initiative of regional companies, chambers and credit institutions, was founded in February of this year in order to stand up for a successful application of the city of Chemnitz for the European Capital of Culture 2025 and to participate in the expansion of the cultural offer in the cultural region by providing financial means.

    <We live our industrial culture

In 2020 we celebrate “Boom. 500 years of industrial culture in Saxony” – half a millennium in the field of tension between work and life, technology and zeitgeist, economic success and cultural upswing. The many preserved historical sites of our region paint a vivid picture of the industrial age and thus also establish the urban identity and the character of local art and culture. (Photo: Sven Gleisberg)

    <We have a great circle of friends

The association “by and for Chemnitz residents who welcome the application with all their hearts and wish to support it with all their strength” has been accompanying the process very constructively and also critically since 2017. At the picnic in public squares and during regular tram rides, the members get into conversation with people interested in and sceptical about the Capital of Culture. In addition, they initiate the Jour Fixe Kultur on the first Monday of every month to highlight various aspects of the city’s cultural life. And as if that weren’t enough, they have launched the bike concerts and are encouraging more and more people to get actively involved in the application. So whoever feels like it: The association meets once or twice a month at different locations in the city. More at: www.freundeskreis-chemnitz-2025.de

    <We have a weakness for festivals.

While the theatre cultivates its “Dance | Modern | Dance” and “Nonstop Europe” festivals, the “Begehungen” and “Pochen” celebrate art, the hat festival celebrates the circus, the RAW hyped industrial culture and the Schlingel International Film Festival puts children’s and youth film in the spotlight, Chemnitzer are building stages and whole festival areas all over Germany or are organizing and booking, so that the Kosmonaut, the Splash, the With full Force, the Wave Gothic Treffen and many other big events are going on stage with enthusiasm. Forgotten something? For sure. Happens in the festival frenzy.

    <We have a nice swim

Designed by city building director Fred Otto and opened in 1935, our city swimming pool was one of the largest and most modern indoor swimming pools in Europe at the time. And even today it attracts bathers and photographers from all over the world. Apart from the fact that it was already perfect as a backdrop for our ballet or as a prelude to our application to become European Capital of Culture 2025. (Photo: Ulf Dahl)

    <Our application has been submitted

The first milestone on the way to the Capital of Culture has been reached: our application book has been submitted in 20 copies to the Cultural Foundation of the German States as the organiser of the national selection process for the German Capital of Culture 2025.

    <Chemnitz isn't finished.

The Capitals of Culture in recent years have not been among the cultural hotspots in Europe. Today they are. Because they have put their money on culture when thinking about their future – and won: in quality of life, in identity, in self-confidence, in tourists… Chemnitz has also decided to do the same: culture should determine the agenda of urban development. Because with a culture of dialogue, with the joy of experimentation and freedom for creativity, with openness for new things and ideas for an urban life of diverse coexistence, we can make Chemnitz the city in which we want to grow old and which in Europe stands for completely different topics and images than last year’s.

    <We are straightforward.

Chemnitz is an industrial city. This has an impact – also on the artists and designers. Marianne Brandt, for example, the designer and Bauhaus artist who played a decisive role in shaping modern design in Europe and in whose honour the show “I am all about glass” is opening today in the Museum of Industry. Or the designer Clauss Dietel, who had a decisive influence on East German design from the spherical loudspeaker box and the typewriter “Erika” to car and moped designs, and whose collection is now to be transferred to the Kunstsammlungen Chemnitz, the cultural committee unanimously decided on Thursday.

    <We breathe mountain air.

Not always, but I’d like to. Just now, when we can learn from the mining region Erzgebirge/ Krušnohoř how to win big titles and when we are working on a common cultural strategy with some places of this region, we look at our neighbours more than just for Christmas. Even though December is still the most beautiful month: mountain parades, Christmas markets, candle arches, incense candles… Downhill slopes, cross-country ski runs… The Erzgebirge with its unique traditions is already very close to us – even if this “happiness” never crosses our lips.

    <We can break open

If there is anything in Chemnitz’ blood, it is departures: to Germany’s leading industrial city at the beginning of the 20th century, to the leading mechanical engineering company in Central Eastern Europe during the Cold War and to the up-and-coming medium-sized business location since the turn of the millennium. Whatever has led to radical changes in history – the people of Chemnitz have made a breakthrough with a doer mentality and inventive talent. Nonetheless, the upheavals in the city’s history have also left their mark on the city. Three different city centres within 70 years, two city names, different social systems – Chemnitz is still searching for identity and self-image. The application for European Capital of Culture 2025 will also make a decisive contribution in this direction. It will tell a story of Chemnitz that will give concrete faces, destinies and new beginnings to the great historical impacts in Europe.