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Cities Culture Creativity (UNESCO & WB, 2021)

This Position Paper provides guiding principles and a framework (the CCC Framework) for cities to better leverage their cultural and creative industries (CCIs) for sustainable urban development, city competitiveness, and social inclusion.

Unlocking the power of the cultural and creative industries in cities

Culture and creativity have untapped potential to deliver social, economic, and spatial benefits for cities and communities. Cultural and creative industries are key drivers of the creative economy and represent important sources of employment, economic growth, and innovation, thus contributing to city competitiveness and sustainability. Through their contribution to urban regeneration and sustainable urban development, cultural and creative industries make cities more attractive places for people to live in and for economic activity to develop. Culture and creativity also contribute to social cohesion at the neighborhood level, enable creative networks to form and advance innovation and growth, and create opportunities for those who are often socially and economically excluded.

Cities, Culture, and Creativity (CCC) provides guiding principles and a CCC Framework, developed by UNESCO and the World Bank, to support cities in unlocking the power of cultural and creative industries for sustainable urban development, city competitiveness, and social inclusion.

Drawing from global studies and the experiences of nine diverse cities from across the world, the CCC Framework offers concrete guidance for the range of actors — city, state, and national governments; creative industry and related private-sector organizations; creatives; culture professionals and civil society— to harness culture and creativity with a view to boosting their local creative economies and building resilient, inclusive, and dynamic cities

Cities around the world that have effectively enabled the development of creative and cultural industries (CCIs) have achieved important outcomes in terms of urban regeneration, economic growth, and social inclusion. 

First, when linked to urban development processes and placemaking, culture and CCIs have helped create attractive, safe, inclusive, and resilient cities for residents and tourists alike. CCIs also serve as an important driver of these cities’ economies, contributing significantly to the employment of women and youth, and facilitating a better quality of life for all residents, including vulnerable groups. Second, creative cities can provide ecosystems for innovation and scale-up of creative activities that increase city competitiveness, propel local economies, and offer jobs for a diverse set of residents including marginalized groups. Third, culture and CCIs can serve to connect communities, expanding their horizons and tolerance, strengthening social cohesion, and helping unite people post-conflict and during difficult times of crisis.

Placing people and inclusion at the heart of development efforts is critical.  

The sustainability and social impact of creative city initiatives rely on their inclusivity, their promotion of the freedom of cultural and artistic expression, and grounding in local arts and community creativity. Artists and creative communities are the cornerstone of any CCI and any city that aims to be a creative city. Concentration or rapid growth of the creative economy generates positive outcomes in terms of urban regeneration and social inclusion, but if such growth is not managed well, negative externalities such as gentrification and over-commercialization may impede new ideas and can harm or displace local communities. The well-being of all communities must be given due consideration and protected. Cities seeking to enhance the resilience of their culture and CCIs in the short run and their impact on their neighborhoods, city competitiveness, and communities in the long run can do the following:

  • Map their cultural resources and CCIs: measuring the size, range, locations, actors, and impacts of these activities is key for short- and long-run actions.

  • Identify key constraints to the growth and structural change of these industries—such as absence of affordable production spaces and/or limited knowledge to scale-up production—and to their ability to offer spatial and social spillover benefits.

  • Prioritize interventions to tackle the key constraints impacting the development of CCIs in consultation with key stakeholders as well as a sequencing for implementation.

  • Build and empower an effective coalition of policy makers at the local and national level, artists and representatives of cultural institutions, and CCIs across public, private, and local community stakeholders within cities to help better target interventions and amplify the impact of government interventions.


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