The World Cities Culture Forum is proud to publish this week a new report bringing fresh insight into the different ways that culture can transform the lives of individuals and communities. The report is available for download here.
World cities are recognised as successful centres of finance, commerce and political influence, although culture is increasingly seen as critical to their importance on the global stage. Yet they often fail to feature in liveable cities lists. This is arguably because their very success brings material challenges that can have a significant impact on local communities, such as congestion, speculative development, inequality, poor housing and infrastructure and other issues.
The ‘Transformational Cultural Projects Report’ includes 20 essays illustrating how culture can go beyond aesthetic considerations. As well as its importance in making cities attractive to live in and to visit – and generating billions for city economies – culture can have critical social impacts, helping individuals and communities to flourish and feel actively engaged in the life and even success of cities.
Each case study shows how policymakers from member cities of the World Cities Culture Forum, working with partners, have initiated and guided cultural projects that have explicit aims to:
- democratise culture, making it more inclusive and accessible, both geographically, and in terms of what is offered
- recognise and validate informal cultures and marginalised groups, and their cultural expression
- spark regeneration and improvements in the quality of the urban environment and public space
- nurture resilience in communities, building skills and fostering better relationships
- initiate debate about challenging urban issues, and build links between communities
- build citizens’ confidence and pride in their neighbourhoods and cities.
The cities featured in the publication are: Istanbul; Rio de Janeiro; Toronto; Amsterdam; New York, Seoul; Singapore; Buenos Aires; Montréal; Moscow; Bogotá; Madrid; Shanghai, Stockholm; London; Los Angeles; Tokyo; Paris; Sydney; and Shenzen. Case studies from each city are grouped together with the following themes: resilient communities; social inclusion; urban revitalisation; distinctive identity; participation; and innovation.
Paul Owens, Director of the World Cities Culture Forum, commented: ‘The case studies in the report illustrate how culture is benefiting cities in ways that are additional to the aesthetic or economic. It provides evidence that culture has other important roles in the lives of individuals and at the heart of communities in cities across the world. City leaders are using culture to encourage participation, add to the distinctive identity of a place, catalyse social inclusion and trigger innovation. This is important, because such activities are likely to help underpin the sustainability of world cities.’
Justine Simons, Chair of the World Cities Culture Forum said: ‘More than half the people on planet earth live in cities and the trend is for city populations to continue to grow. If cities want to thrive over the next century it is not enough to focus only on transport, crime and housing. We need cities to be ‘liveable’ and so we need culture and creativity. This report shows in clear terms the breadth and impact of culture across all aspects of city life and demonstrates why culture needs to have a better status in cities.’