Anna Lisa Boni, Secretary General of EUROCITIES
Anna Lisa Boni has been secretary general of EUROCITIES since June 2014. Before joining EUROCITIES, she was director of the Brussels office of the French region Provence-Alpes-Cote d’Azur. EUROCITIES is the network of major European cities. It brings together the local governments of over 140 of Europe’s largest cities and more than 40 partner cities, that between them govern 130 million citizens across 39 countries.
Philippe Kern, Managing Director of KEA European Affairs
Philippe Kern Philippe is the founder of KEA European Affairs, and has been its managing director since 1999. KEA has been advising territories, organisations and people to unlock the potential of cultural and creative industries since 1999.
Culture is everywhere. It reaches out well beyond museums, heritage sites, or traditional cultural institutions, infiltrating our daily life. It can be found in technology hubs, in media clusters nourishing innovation, on city walls in the form of graffiti and murals, or at local community centers and street festivals which trigger social interactions. It serves to create an aesthetic, an atmosphere, and ultimately the attractiveness of places.
While the analysis of global transformation has begun to stress the cultural dimension, there is a predominance of a particular type of study. The literature is rather focused on technology (digital networks, artificial intelligence, genetic manipulation, the Internet of Things for instance), climate change, population growth, or economic sustainability. This shows a tendency to attribute historical development mainly to economic, technological, business, and demographic factors, as if ideas, creations, institutions, and culture played little role in major global change.
Too often, culture and its agents (artists, creative professionals, cultural institutions) are given poor consideration in the context of economic and social development. This is not new, but rather puzzling, considering the important role of culture and cultural operators in the shaping of today’s and tomorrow’s world.
The lack of awareness of the transformative power of culture and its ability to address economic, social, or diplomatic issues may be due to various factors:
- cultural administrations are not yet equipped or given the mandate to manage cultural policies in a more holistic way;
- the word ‘culture’ can carry the stigma of being inefficient, marginal, secondary, or trivial;
- the concept of innovation has been hijacked by technology industries and their powerful lobbying, to the detriment of creation in its more traditional sense, which is actually what innovation is based on;
- cultural stakeholders need to upgrade their lobbying skills and gain confidence and conviction.
Of all public institutions, cities are the most aware of the importance of managing local cultural resources to remain relevant and attractive. Culture is increasingly mainstreamed in various policy areas such as innovation, economic development, social cohesion, urban planning as well as cities’ external relations strategies. The Culture for Cities and Regions project, on which the authors met, sought to overcome specific local challenges through targeted peer-learning and study visits between cities to share knowledge and encourage this mainstreaming of culture.
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