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World Cities Culture Forum Summit 2022
Over 40 cities meet in Helsinki for the first time since the COVID-19 pandemic

From 5-7 October, Helsinki hosted the World Cities Culture Summit 2022, bringing together delegates from over 40 cities to discuss how government policy can address local and global challenges within the culture sector.

The three-day summit marked the 10th anniversary of the establishment of the World Cities Culture Forum (WCCF) network, which has grown to collectively represent over 40 global cities since it first assembled in London, as part of the 2012 Olympics celebrations.

Paavo Arhinmäki (Deputy Mayor for Culture and Leisure of the City of Helsinki), and Reetta Heiskanen (City of Helsinki’s Acting Deputy Culture Director) joined Justine Simons OBE (Deputy Mayor for Culture and Creative Industries, Mayor of London’s Office, and Chair of World Cities Culture Forum) in welcoming over 100 deputy mayors, city representatives and cultural leaders to the Helsinki summit.

Through a series of debates and workshops, the delegates exchanged views on urgent issues including post-COVID-19 reconstruction, the preservation and development of creative spaces and new culture funding models. The collaborative spirit of the summit encouraged delegates to share regional challenges and work towards progressive solutions with the advice of the network. Previous summits have led to new initiatives including: ACCESS, a Europe-wide cultural policy network to develop inclusive access within culture and the creative industries; and WCCF’s Leadership Exchange Programme, involving 21 different cities via 11 exchanges, with thanks to Bloomberg Philanthropies and Google Arts and Culture.

Delegates visited the city’s main cultural institutions and enjoyed artistic performances kindly arranged by Helsinki City Council. Summit events were held in venues including the Finnish National Opera, the Central Library Oodi, Amos Rex, and Lapinlahden Lähde, and performances featured a specially commissioned work by dancer-choreographer Susanna Leinonen, experimental music by Suistamon Sahko and a keynote speech by conductor Dalia Stasevska.

2022 Report Launch

This year, the summit coincided with the launch of WCCF’s annual Report on 5 October, which gathers more than 200 case studies demonstrating the resilience of cities during the Covid-19 pandemic and the use of culture as a powerful tool to face profound challenges. Its key message: cultural leaders must collaborate across government departments to collectively adopt a mission-led approach, with people, place and planet at its heart.

Download the report here.