Every member of the World Cities Culture Forum knows this. But in real life, urban policy understandably prioritises improving transport and health, boosting the economy, solving crime, building homes. Culture is on the list, but it’s vulnerable. As budgets tighten it is often the thing that gets dropped. But what are we really risking?
As the artist Grayson Perry says, ‘Life without art would be a series of emails’.
But as well as personal fulfilment, culture can play a powerful role across all aspects of urban policy – it boosts the economy, brings in tourists, improves health and can even rehabilitate criminals, making an essential contribution to prosperity.
So we need a paradigm shift in global cities, we need culture at the table if we are to build liveable flourishing cities. We need global leadership. And that’s what the World Cities Culture Forum provides.
Our members are all finding new ways to make cities more vibrant, inclusive and liveable. They are putting culture at the heart of urban policy. From cinemas in the Rio Favelas, workspace for artists in Toronto, cultural quarters in Moscow, tourism in Amsterdam, to urban renewal through street art in Bogotá, the Olympic legacy in London and social circus in Buenos Aires. The results are far-reaching and profound.
But these cultural leaders rarely find themselves knocking on an open door. Which is why the World Cities Culture Forum agenda is increasingly urgent. It is a powerful network of senior leaders from city governments who are able to share successes, learn from mistakes and together build the arguments and evidence they need to re-position culture in global cities.
The World Cities Culture Report is at the heart of this – it is now the globally recognised standard source of information about culture in world cities. Because without the hard evidence we can’t make hard arguments. It shows that across the globe, culture is as important to the world city as finance and trade. That culture plays an integral role in shaping the world city’s identity, economy and public policy and that without it we will fail to build vibrant liveable cities that allow our citizens to flourish.