The 8 UK cities contributing their creativity to the world

The UNESCO Creative Cities Network implemented a new Strategy at its Annual Meeting in July 2017, reframing its core objectives to reflect the 2030 UN Agenda for Sustainable Development and the New Urban Agenda.

The XIth Annual Meeting of the UNESCO Creative Cities Network (UCCN) took place in Enghien-les-Bains, France, from 30 June to 2 July 2017. This event gathered over 300 participants, including a large number of mayors, representing about 100 Creative Cities.

The Creative Cities Network was established in 2004 to “promote cooperation with and among cities that have identified creativity as a strategic factor for sustainable urban development.” Creative Cities work toward the common objective of placing creativity at the heart of their development plans at the local level and coordinating activity at the international level.

Following extensive consultation, the Conference saw the adoption of a new Strategic Framework calling on Creative Cities to integrate culture into their policies and facilitate cooperation based on creativity and innovation to work toward the UN Sustainable Development Goals.

Francesco Bandarin, UNESCO Assistant Director-General for Culture, said:

“This [new strategy] provides the UNESCO Creative Cities Network with a common vision to move forward together, towards making the most of our Network and cities. […] The UCCN tackles our societies’ challenges and builds more people-centred cities. Being a Creative City is not a trend, it is a reality. It is the way to foster sustainable urban development, in economic, social and environmental terms. To achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), we need the powerful tools that are culture and creativity.”

To reinforce the new strategy for the Network, the Mayors of the UNESCO Creative Cities network also adopted a Declaration at the Conference calling on Creative Cities to integrate culture into their policies and facilitate cooperation based on creativity and innovation.

The UK’s eight UNESCO Creative Cities took part in the Conference presenting programme activity and contributing their expertise to workshops. The eight UK UNESCO Creative Cities are: Glasgow and Liverpool (Music), Dundee (Design), Bradford (Film), York (Media Arts), Norwich, Nottingham and Edinburgh (Literature).

Representing Nottingham UNESCO Creative City of Literature at the Conference was its Director, Sandeep Mahal, and Leader of Nottingham City Council, Councillor Jon Collins. Councillor Collins presented Nottingham’s vision on ‘Building a Literate City’, showcasing Bookstart, Small Steps Big Changes, Dolly Parton Imagination Library and the investment in libraries as a way of improving children’s life chances, tackling social inequality and fostering social cohesion.

During the conference, the Leaders’ Forum also provided an excellent opportunity for Cllr Collins to showcase his commitment to sustainable urban development through culture and creativity. Cllr Collins:

  • Signed and adopted a joint declaration to collaborative partnership working
  • Took part in a series of media interviews
  • Expressed an interest in hosting an Annual Network Meeting in Nottingham
  • Expressed an interest in collaborating with Bradford City of Film on the Nottingham Shots in the Dark Festival, and with Krakow on their digital e-reading campaign

The network has grown rapidly in the last five years and now stands at 116 cities in 54 counties. More cities are expected to join the Creative City Network in November 2017, as UNESCO makes further appointments to the global network. New cities will specialise in one of seven creative fields: literature, design, film, gastronomy, crafts and folk art, media arts and music.

Next year’s conference will take place in Krakow-Katowice, Poland, 4 – 10th June.