Interactive Tool Explores The Cultural Strength of Cities

Culture plays a crucial role in the success of our cities, but it is notoriously difficult to map and assess the value of cultural assets in our urban environments.  The Joint Research Centre (JRC) of the European Commission wants to change that, and has created a ‘Cultural and Creative Cities Monitor’ to provide a standardized tool built around three core indices – cultural vibrancy, creative economy and enabling environment.

The monitor, which is due to be updated every two years, recently published its first edition.  It provides clear metrics to allow cities to be compared across nine different dimensions that broadly cover culture and creativity, before highlighting how these contribute to the social and economic performance of each city.

“Our objective is to place culture and creativity at the heart of the European policy agenda. In times of major societal transformations and sharpening global competition between cities, we must look beyond traditional sources of growth and socio-economic well-being and explore the role of culture in vibrant, innovative and diverse cities. The Cultural and Creative Cities Monitor highlights successful European cities that have found their own ways of using the potential of culture and creativity to drive development, innovation and job creation and improve quality of life for citizens. It puts sound evidence at the disposal of policy makers to help them identify where they fare well and where further improvement is desirable,” JRC say.

Cultural cities

A number of interesting findings emerged from the report.  For instance, cultural and creative activities are crucial for supporting economic growth in low-income cities.

It was also apparent that size was not always necessary in defining a cultural city.  Whilst capital cities do indeed perform well, they were outperformed in many countries by smaller cities.  Indeed, small and medium-sized cities scored relatively well compared to their larger peers.

The Monitor is an interactive tool that allows users to browse their chosen city and dive into the quantitative and qualitative information about it.  It suggests that the ‘ideal city would be an amalgam of cities from across Europe.  It would have the Cultural Venues & Facilities of Cork (Ireland), the Cultural Participation & Attractiveness and the Creative & Knowledge-based Jobs of Paris (France), the Intellectual Property & Innovation of Eindhoven (Netherlands), the New Jobs in Creative Sectors of Umeå (Sweden), the Human Capital & Education of Leuven (Belgium), the Openness, Tolerance & Trust of Glasgow (UK), the Local & International Connections of Utrecht (Netherlands) and the Quality of Governance of Copenhagen (Denmark).

Check out the tool and see how your city fares.