Cultural leaders and senior city officials from around the world headed to London in November to take part in one of the most important international meetings focusing on the critical role that culture plays in the success of cities.
Hosted by the Mayor of London, the fourth World Cities Culture Summit brought together representatives of 31 cities from 18-20 November for high level talks aimed at sharing experience and expertise and formulating long-term policies that put culture at the heart of future city planning and development.
Cities taking part included: Amsterdam, Austin, Bogota, Brussels, Buenos Aires, Dubai, Edinburgh, Hamburg,Hong Kong, Istanbul, Lagos, London, Los Angeles, Madrid, Melbourne, Montreal, Moscow, New York City, Paris, Rome, San Francisco, Seoul, Shanghai, Shenzhen, Singapore, Stockholm, Sydney, Taipei, Tokyo, Toronto, Vienna and Warsaw.
Defined as world cities because of their scale, dynamism and diversity, which create fertile conditions for innovation and radical thinking in economic, social and cultural policy, those attending the summit wanted to highlight the benefits that culture brings to cities – which is where most of the world’s population lives - not just in terms of quality of life, but socially and economically.
With the global economy still fragile, political uncertainty in different parts of the world and concerns about growing inequality, the summit looked at how embedding culture into overall policy development – as opposed to being seen as an add-on or a luxury – can contribute to the continued social and economic growth of world cities. At the same time, the participants at the three day forum want to tackle perennial problems affecting world cities. Each has its own story to tell about successes and specific challenges.
London, for example, has weathered the financial crisis remarkably well and its reputation as a centre for finance, trade and culture has never been higher. Yet, as it enjoys continued growth, there are fears that this success could in the longer term be at the expense of culture, creativity and innovation, with artists and other practitioners increasingly unable to afford to live and work in the city.
The policy briefing of the summit is available for download here.