World Cities Culture Forum
Beyazit Camii Mosque, Istanbul. Source: Wikimedia Commons
Rebecca Atkinson ‘Report highlights social impact of culture in cities’, Museums Journal (UK) 26 Nov, 2014
Case studies explore social inclusion, participation and resilient communities
The World Cities Culture Forum has highlighted the different ways that culture can transform the lives of individuals and communities in a report published this week. The Transformational Cultural Projects Report focuses on the social impact of culture, as well as the economic benefits it can bring. Case studies from 20 cities – including London, Buenos Aires, Shanghai and Istanbul – illustrate these impacts across six themes: resilient communities; social inclusion; urban revitalisation; distinctive identity; participation; and innovation.
One issue highlighted in the report is that cities perform badly when it comes to quality of life rankings because such indexes tend to look at issues such as education, crime and infrastructure, but don’t include access to culture. Justine Simons, the chairwoman 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.”
The report identifies “transformational” cultural projects that link culture with sustainable urban development, and where social welfare, equity and people’s capabilities are taken into account. For example, the case study from Bogotá in Colombia focused on the emerging street art scene in the city where consultation on a graffiti policy was carried out by government officials, senior figures in art establishments and artists, in a way that aimed to make cultural policy “an instrument of sustainable development and social cohesion”. The World Cities Culture Forum was founded in 2012 by a network of eight cities, including London. It now has 27 members, and is an initiative of the Mayor of London. It is organised and coordinated by BOP Consulting.