The European Capital of Culture (ECOC) is a city designated by the European Union (EU) for a period of one calendar year during which it is given a chance to show its cultural life and cultural development to the rest of the world. Being a Cultural Capital brings that city and its cultural infrastructure into a modern level, it becomes a cultural attraction destination for foreign visitors, enriches socio-economic development, and so on.
This program was initiated in 1985 with Athens and since then many European cities have been named with this title. The idea of this project was promoting European cultures within the member states of the EU. After 1999 the ECOC project was enlarged as to include non-member countries too. So, a group of civil society volunteers and NGO's in Turkey in 2000 have started a long process and finally in 2006 Istanbul was found ready for being the European Capital of Culture in 2010. The final decision by the European Union to select İstanbul was announced on November 13th, 2006.
The Istanbul 2010 project was led by the Turkish Foreign Ministry and supported by the Ministry of Culture and Tourism, Istanbul Governorship and the Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality (IBB), and coordinated by the Advisory Council as an executive board with the official coordination of the Istanbul 2010 European Capital of Culture Agency. During 2010, many artists and cultural groups, both local and international, visited Istanbul at various stages for cultural showscases, events, displays, exhibitions, concerts, arts, etc.