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Eurocities Culture Forum 2024

25–27 September 2024


Culture enables us to belong, create, challenge, and explore.  It helped many survive lockdown and has massive healing powers for social integration and wellbeing.  How can cities harness their unique cultural ecosystem for maximum social, economic and environmental benefits? Are we getting the balance right and are we investing in the right things for and with citizens, cities, and the planet?

In Belfast we will look at examples of how local administrations have adjusted their cultural support, investment models and strategies to suit the changing and unique needs of their own cities and communities and consider how we all might need to adapt for the future.

Culture as a connector for social development

Human connection and a sense of belonging is ever more important and sought out.  Because culture is a vital expression of who people are, creating together and sharing cultural experiences has huge ability to connect people, grow understanding and acceptance, and heal hurts and divisions.

Cities can help cultivate an environment where people’s cultural identities are recognised, supported and celebrated in shared spaces.  Whilst this requires local administrations to have robust leadership, partnership and resource, with culture at the heart of city strategy, it should lead to safer more resilient regions and cities. 

The question of how we measure and articulate social value of culture, and how we justify the required investment is a perennial problem. However as city leaders we need to show why protecting and our cultural ecosystem matters, because cultural participation is needed more than ever.  In Belfast, we will explore some of the social benefits of culture and hear how cities use it to challenge issues and adapt to change.

Culture as a connector for economic stability

Cities are recognised as connection points within a global network; the gateway and often the platform for citizens and regions to exchange and position themselves internationally.  Cities can be perceived through a cultural lens, which can influence collaboration and investment and enhance chances of success in a competitive environment.

At a local level, city centres cannot survive as merely commercial and office hubs and are reshaping themselves to respond to different lifestyle needs.  They must become more attractive and experience-based, as places where people can come together and connect, and not just transact.  Culture is key to this shift.

Third spaces, like cultural hubs and libraries, may not be commercially viable but they're crucial for bringing life to our city centres; they're destinations where people can hang out and be part of something bigger. Attractive outdoor places, the evening economy, festivals and events also contribute to that magic mix but rely on a quality cultural offer. To differing degrees public investment is crucial to this.  And at a personal level, the act of creating, individually or in a group, helps us maximise our potential and makes us more able to thrive and adapt.

In Belfast we’ll look at how cities can achieve quality interventions within existing resources by working in partnership, and how cultural leaders can negotiate strategic investment towards culture in challenging economic environments.

Culture as a connector for sustainable cities

Through cultural interventions and setting positive examples, we can effectively communicate messages around the climate crisis, equity and democracy, and challenge habits and practices.  Cities are at different states of readiness to make the changes that our planet requires. In Belfast we’ll look at examples where culture has made a difference to environmental and social sustainability and consider our role and responsibilities as cultural leaders in this area. 


Start: 25 September 2024
End: 27 September 2024

The MAC, Exchange Street, West, Belfast, UK

Exchange Street 10
BT1 2NJ West Northern Ireland
United Kingdom

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