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UNESCO Creative Cities


The UNESCO Creative Cities Network was launched by UNESCO in October 2004. The network is designed to promote the social, economic, and cultural development of cities in both the developed and the developing world. The cities that apply to the network seek to promote their local creative industries; they share interest in UNESCO’s mission towards cultural diversity.

Once a city is appointed to the network, it can share experiences and create new opportunities for itself and others on a global platform. One such activity is based on the notion of creative tourism.

A key ingredient is the creation of public/private partnerships that help unlock the entrepreneurial and creative potential of small enterprises, which play an important role in the new economy. To underpin their development, small creative businesses also need innovative talent, and therefore cities with strong contemporary art, fashion, craft, music and design schools are most likely to flourish.

Why cities?

Cities are increasingly playing a vital role in harnessing creativity for economic and social development:

  • Cities harbor the entire range of cultural actors throughout the creative industry chain, from the creative act to production and distribution.
  • As breeding grounds for creative clusters, cities have great potential to harness creativity, and connecting cities can mobilize this potential for global impact.
  • Cities are small enough to affect local cultural industries but also large enough to serve as gateways to international markets.

Currently, more than half of the world’s population lives in cities. The concept of ’Creative Cities’ is based on the belief that culture can play an important role in urban renewal. Policy makers are increasingly taking account of the role of creativity when planning economic policy.

UNESCO’s Creative Cities Network is developing a fundamental concept of ’Creative Economy’ and ’Creative Industries’ which the UK Government Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) defines as “those industries which have their origin in individual creativity skill and talent and which, have a potential for wealth and job creation through the generation and utilzation of intellectual property”.

As creative industries contribute to a city’s social fabric, cultural diversity, and enhance the quality of life, they also strengthen a sense of community and help define a shared identity.

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