The Ponta Delgada – Azores 2027 bid (PDL-Azores2027, from now on) for European Capital of Culture was born from a civic movement "For a European Capital of Culture in the Azores in 2027". 800 people from the Cultural and Creative Sectors and civic society signed a public manifesto in support of a regional bid with a cultural project that propelled a social and economic transformation.

In March 2021, the Ponta Delgada municipality stepped forward, having the Regional Government and the municipalities of Angra do Heroísmo and Horta as co-promoters. The objective was to create a long-term project that strengthened the archipelagic union through culture, by gathering three urban and political centres.

In face of the backtracking of the municipalities of Angra do Heroísmo and Horta, in May 2021, the Ponta Delgada municipality took the lead of the project. It created an autonomous mission team for the development of the bid. The team was constituted by Paulo Mendes (councilman for Culture and executive director of the bid), Nuno Costa Santos (outreach coordinator), Gina Ávila Macedo (communications and marketing coordinator), António Pedro Lopes (artistic director), Carolina Pimentel (executive producer and administrative), and the external contributors Nelson Furtado (management and finances coordinator), Nuno Miranda (creative communication manager), Pia Leydolt-Fuchs and Ulrich Fuchs (specialised consultants for European Capitals of Cultural), Rui Monteiro and Ana Clara Roberti (specialised consultants for international partnerships), Sérgio Couto (designer) and Sílvia Tavares (translator). It also hired the national consultant OPIUM to create a cultural strategy that could guide the cultural policies of the municipality until 2030. From this process arose the Cultural Strategy Ponta Delgada 2030. The two teams developed their work simultaneously, so they complemented each other and shared resources, findings and conclusions.

As to strengthen the project and guarantee different levels of participation, the Municipality created a Committee of Honour, to expand and promote the intents of the bid, an Advisory Board to contribute critically in the bidding process, and founded and Ambassadors programme, whose mission was to represent the bid in every island and to humanise its message. Besides, it kept the archipelagic mission by establishing partnerships with all municipalities of the Azores and with several regional institutions.

Taking into account its civic and participative dimension, the bidding process adopted an ascendent and communitary strategy. It involved the Cultural and Creative Sectors stakeholders and the population in general, through an intensive listening process. Although it started still during the covid-19 pandemic, the team managed to create digital and on-site gathering spaces. Several participation and contribution methodologies were tested, by applying design-thinking formats, focus groups, individual conversations and assemblies, taken into account different geographies and scales — the city, the island, the archipelago, our diaspora — and trying to connect them through common points and their singularities.

It was from that listening process that the team conceived pilot projects and established a vision, a mission and a set of goals that guided the concept of the bid.

Vision: PDL-Azores2027 is a mirror of the European Union, through a new centrality based on cultural democracy, dialogue, artistic experimentation and union in diversity.

Mission: Organising a European Capital of Culture, a big inclusive, participative and transformative cultural event, with international visibility.
Goals: strengthening the capacity of the Cultural and Creative Sectors (CCS) and promoting the cultural and creative potential of Ponta Delgada and the Azores; promoting the participation, inclusion, cultural democracy, capacity-building and the intersection of different people, through an intense dialogue between artistic practices and social realities; creating a movement of mutual understanding that encompasses past and future cultural interchanges and that, starting from Ponta Delgada, extends through the island, the archipelago of the Azores, through Europe and the territories of our diaspora; deepening the symbiotic connections between nature and human activity through cultural and artistic practices aligned with the sustainable development goals.

Concept: Human Nature. Nature means Place. Human means Culture. The culture of a place that is built by the relations between Nature and Culture, Geography and History, by the vibrant landscape and atlanticity, through its cultural proximity with the Americas, through the richness of our traditions and our capacity of staying open to the world as an authentic living laboratory. Believing that we are who we are in virtue of this place, and that now, more than ever, we need to value our sense of Humanity and of respect for Nature as one, through an appeal to understanding and empathy between human and non-humans. The concept guides a project about a city, an island and an archipelago, and takes the metaphor of the archipelago as an alternative model to the global thinking, based on the exchange between islands, one that doesn't cause the loss of identity, but rather enriches it, through a movement of convergence and unity.


It was with that concept that, progressively and collectively, we have projected a transdisciplinary and transinsular cultural and artistic programme where people are the protagonists and nature is a stage and a place of reflection. A space-time where new audiences get involved, the digital world is occupied and new voices and new places gain a new visibility. We have imagined Ponta Delgada and the Azores as cultural epicentres, a place to rethink the world where we want to live, to regain our sense of humanity and to value the Azores and an Archipelago of People.
The pre-selection bid-book was submitted on november 23, 2022. In total, 12 Portuguese cities presented their application: Aveiro, Braga, Coimbra, Évora, Faro, Guarda, Leiria, Funchal, Oeiras, Ponta Delgada, Vila Real and Viana do Castelo. In March 2022, the PDL-Azores2027 bid was pre-selected as a finalist, among Aveiro, Braga and Évora. A panel of national and international experts emitted recommendations for the cities that continued in the competition.
In June 2022, the work was resumed with a new team: António Pedro Lopes (artistic director), Diana Diegues and João Rebelo Costa (project managers), Inês Linhares Dias (communications and marketing coordinator), Joana Filipe and Luís Silva (consulting to the executive direction), Paula Pavão (executive producer), Pedro Nascimento Cabral (Mayor and executive director) and Rita Serra e Silva (outreach coordinator), as well as the external contributors Pia Leydolt-Fuchs and Ulrich Fuchs (specialised consultants for European Capitals of Cultural), Rui Monteiro and Ana Clara Roberti (specialised consultants for international partnerships), Pedro Gomes (legal advisory), Patrícia Romeiro (monitoring and evaluation), Pedro Silva (management), Sérgio Couto (designer) and Sílvia Tavares (translator).

The final phase had three goals: 1 – expand and develop the six evaluation criteria (Contribution to the long-term strategy, cultural and artistic content, European dimension, outreach, management, capacity to deliver); 2 – organise a city visit of four panel members to the island; and, finally, 3 – prepare a final presentation to the jury.
To fulfill these objectives, the mission team has aligned the project of the bid with the Cultural Strategy Ponta Delgada 2030, opened a new listening process that went through the nine islands of the Azores, to deepen the conversations and include new people, doubled the number of ambassadors, continued old pilot projects and started new ones, promoted an open call, further developed the management and the political and financial commitment towards the bid with the different entities involved, and established new partnerships worldwide.

On december 7 2022, the chair of the European jury, Beatriz Garcia, announced that the European Capital of Culture title was going to Évora. On that same occasion, the Minister of Culture, Pedro Adão e Silva, announced that the country was creating a Portuguese Capital of Culture, and that this initiative was going to be inaugurated by the other three finalist cities. Each city will receive 2 million euros from the Portuguese Government. Ponta Delgada will be the Portuguese Capital of Culture in 2026, following Aveiro (2024) and Braga (2025).

This report looks back on the 18 months of the bidding process and projects it towards a future of infinite possibilities, taking culture as a tool for transformation. In this document, we look at what was done during the bidding process, the cues that can be taken from the Cultural Strategy Ponta Delgada 2030 and to the public consultation that was promoted to think about the legacy of this bid.