CULTURE AS CATALYST: MOSCOW SUMMIT 2016 SHINES LIGHT ON URBAN FUTURES
THEME: CREATING THE FUTURE, CULTURE TAKING THE LEAD IN WORLD CITIES
“World Cities Culture Summits are always a source of optimism.”Moscow City Government, Culture Team
The World Cities Culture Forum Summit took place in Moscow on 5 – 7 October 2016.
The summit focused on the urgent challenges facing world cities in the twenty-first century, including rising populations, increased inequality, soaring property prices and environmental issues threatening sustainability and liveability. The sheer pace and scale of growth that many world cities have experienced poses massive problems for cohesion, liveability and governability. This makes developing and nurturing culture so much more complex – and more necessary.
The issues discussed at the Moscow summit are at the heart of any urban policy agenda:
- Social inclusion
- Housing, planning and development
- Economic growth
- Climate change
As policymakers, members of the World Cities Culture Forum are responding to these challenges in different ways. What they share is a common belief that culture is an essential part of the governance of cities, not an optional add-on. From discussion at the summit, it is clear that the strategic role of city governments is becoming increasingly important. They have a huge role to play as facilitators and convenors, whether creating policy frameworks or catalysing partnerships. No other actors in cities have the same ability to bring everyone to the table, and yet this is necessary if cities are to address the challenges they face.
What we learned in Moscow:
- In a time of international tension, dialogue between people is more important than ever. Here, too, both culture and cities have a role to play. Art enables understanding across linguistic and national boundaries. City-to-city collaboration opens up channels that remain stubbornly closed at the national government level. The Moscow summit was an excellent example of the ability of culture to build bridges. The ideas and inspiration shared at the summit will catalyse further action and collaboration in the future.
- Cities are facing ever more urgent challenges, with rising populations, increased inequality, soaring property prices and environmental issues threatening their sustainability and liveability. These challenges make developing and nurturing culture both more complex and more necessary.
- A diversity of funding sources for culture, drawn from across the urban policy landscape, enables experimentation and increases the money available for culture. Cities like Brussels and Montréal, which institutionalise linguistic and cultural diversity, lead the way – ensuring a coherent cultural policy will require learning from their challenges.
- Cities can respond to major international issues, such as the refugee crisis, in ways that national governments are unable or unwilling to do. The cultural sector can lead these responses, as with New York’s IDNYC card or the post-Brexit ‘London is Open’ campaign. • Three million people move to cities every week. Social cohesion and inclusion are cultural issues which culture departments are addressing, as in Buenos Aires where they are involved in providing services to new migrants.
- Rethinking tradition, and prioritising social impact, is necessary if public funding for culture is to remain relevant.
- With 4 years remaining to meet the 1.5C target set by the Paris Agreement, cities must act on climate change. By creating a policy framework within which the cultural movement can thrive, a small effort to force the pace can lead to an exponential return.
- Culture is under threat from rapid development that makes cities – and their residents – the victims of success. Making space for culture requires making the case for its role in driving change and creating value. But the affordability crisis hits far beyond artists, and effective solutions must address the whole problem.
- Artists-in-residence are playing innovative roles. New York City has had an artist at their Department of Sanitation for nearly 40 years. Los Angeles is now using the term ‘creative strategist’ to highlight the insights that creativity can bring.
- Participation and co-creation are now important parts of public engagement with culture. Participatory budgeting – drawing votes from nearly 50% of the population in Warsaw – is just one way cities can give power to their residents.