The project provides an impetus to actively engage with the future of the Salzkammergut. How do we want to live here? Which challenges need to be tackled? With a regional cultural development plan we develop a long-term perspective and take the future creatively and courageously into our hands.

The cultural development plan (Kulturvision 2030) as well as the Bidbook guide us the way realizing our vision “Culture is the New Salt”.

Since 1985, the title “European Capital of Culture” is awarded to cities of different countries for a year. The countries are nominated in advance. In 2024, Austria (after Graz 2003 and Linz 2009) and Estonia can each nominate a Capital of Culture. Every three years a European country outside the EU can apply for the title. In 2024 the European Capitals of Culture are: Tartu (Estonia), Bodø (Norway) and Salzkammergut.

The aim is to make the diversity of life realities present in Europe visible, to support mutual understanding and to set sustainable impulses for urban and regional development. Besides cities, also a range of villages together can apply as a Capital of Culture Region. One city (> 10,000 inhabitants), however, has to take the lead. In the case of Salzkammergut 2024 this will be Bad Ischl.

The selection of European Capitals of Culture takes place in an open competition, which in Austria is organized by the Federal Chancellery.

For the Austrian title year 2024, three cities / regions applied: Dornbirn+, St. Pölten and the Salzkammergut.

At the end of 2018, all three applicants submitted the first application document (the first 60-page bidbook). Subsequently, all three applicants had the opportunity to present the concept to the European Capital of Culture jury in Vienna. The decision to have all three candidates in the second and final selection round was made on 31 January 2019.

By October 2019, the application was finalized. The 100-page bidbook presented the further developed and concretized concept, program, budget and any management questions. At the beginning of November 2019, a delegation of the jury visited the three applicant cities and regions in order to get a better idea of ​​the places. After a final hearing in Vienna in mid-November, in which the applicants presented the concept in 45 minutes and answered questions from the jury for 75 minutes, the decision that the Salzkammergut will be European Capital of Culture 2024 was made on 12 November 2019.

The jury’s report on the reasons for the decision will be presented on the website in a short while.

Where does the money come from?

The budget goal of 30 million Euros for Salzkammergut 2024 as European Capital of Culture  comes from the state of Austria, the two federal states of Upper Austria and Styria and the municipalities (one third each). However, the municipalities do not have to manage their third alone – they are supported by the Melina Mercouri Prize of the European Union (1.5 million Euro), other EU funds, local tourism associations and private sponsors. The Austrian state and the federal states each contribute 10 million Euros.


Where does the money go?

The 30 million Euros (budget goal) are fully dedicated to the program, the staff and the costs related to the organization of the European Capital of Culture (ECoC). The ECoC budget will NOT cover infrastructure projects. Unlike previous ECoCs, we have deliberately decided not to focus on prestigious new buildings.

Nevertheless, planned infrastructure projects (for example, renovation work on the historic Lehartheater, Stadttheater Gmunden or the roofing of Schloss Ort) are funded by the municipalities themselves, not by ECoC. These are projects that the municipalities had planned independently from the title win. However, winning the title increases the chance of co-financing.

In addition, the ECoC budget can not be used to (co-) finance already existing event formats or to support the ongoing organization of cultural institutions.

These 23 municipalities constitute the ECoC region Salzkammergut 2024:

In Upper Austria: City of Bad Ischl (Bannerstadt), City of Gmunden, City of Laakirchen, Bad Goisern, Gosau, Scharnstein, Vorchdorf, Obertraun, St. Konrad, Ebensee am Traunsee, Traunkirchen, Hallstatt, Roitham am Traunfall, Pettenbach im Almtal, Grünau im Almtal, Kirchham, Altmünster, Unterach am Attersee, Steinbach am Attersee;

In the STMK: City of Bad Aussee, Altaussee, Grundlsee, Bad Mitterndorf.

The participation process for municipalities is now completed (fall 2020).

Now! We have won the title “European Capital of Culture”. We are in the process of building the office structure. The Salzkammergut 2024 GmbH (Ltd.) is established, we are currently preparing the first monitoring report for the European Jury.

Cultural policy is regional policy! Many of the municipalities in the Salzkammergut are facing rural exodus. Shops and restaurants have to shut down due to the lack of customers, village centres are deserted and workplaces rare. Especially young, well educated people have to migrate to bigger cities for the lack of future perspectives.

The challenges of the region demand long-term strategies. We see the European Capital of Culture as an important vehicle to tackle important questions that will affect us beyond 2024: sustainable mobility, critical reflection on the existing tourism model, reflecting on regional building culture, strengthening the cultural sector, etc.


Cultural development needs long-sighed strategies. Therefore, the application for the European Capital of Culture 2024 was embedded in the development of a regional cultural development plan (Kulturvision 2030 – Culture makes the difference). With this participatory plan, which represents an important sustainable cultural policy framework, we jointly determine the guidelines and frameworks for the cultural development of the Salzkammergut region.

Everybody can play a part. How? There are many possibilities for this. For example: Jobs at the SKGT24 Ltd. Additionally already before 2024, there will be participatory formats and projects that all people in the Salzkammergut, whether born here, temporarily living or just visiting, are invited to participate in. We keep you informed about participation opportunities!