Early February 2021 marked the end of the big European policy project Cultural and Creative Spaces and Cities (CCSC) and a conference was held for the occasion. There was an overwhelming interest in the digital conference from all corners of the world – Trans Europe Halles, the host organisation, registered 800 participants from 67 countries. This has been an important project for Lund and Skåne. Partly, because Trans Europe Halles, a cultural organisation seated in Lund, spearheaded the project. But also, because two out of seven European Urban Labs are located in Skåne. The aim consisted in finding new ways to collaborate between cultural operators and decision-makers. However, it was also about giving residents and cultural organisations the possibility to take part in shaping the future.
The Co-designing our Cities conference was the grand finale of Cultural Creative Spaces and Cities (CCSC) - a 2,5 year long experimental project. The project tested and created new ways of gathering public and cultural organizations to co-create around common challenges and approaches. The project demonstrated how methods and approaches of handling joint resources and commons in the cultural sector can change the whole society. The project also contributed to, in collaboration with researchers, novel policy-work as input for the EU.
Participants from all over Europe investigated how interactive governance and common methods can lead to a more sustainable future in Europe.
The moderator José Rodriguez opened the conference by passing the word to some of the central actors who each gave a short welcome speech. Mieke Renders from Trans Europe Halles talked about the bottom-up perspective:
– One needs to listen carefully to people. Citizens want to have a say. During the last 2,5 years we investigated, tested, researched and crafted prototypes within the cultural sector. How can we develop frameworks and policy through collaboration and how can we increase interactivity so that all voices can be heard and listened to?
Ola Jacobson from Region Skånes kulturförvaltning (Region Skånes cultural department) focused, together with another project coordinator, on the importance of dialogue and openness.
– For me the CCSC-project was about saying yes to change and new ideas. Not to every change and every new idea but to those that are stemming from a need that we identify together between different levels and different sectors in society. It’s about being open because somebody else can have a solution for your problem, it’s about being open because new partnerships can be part of the solution and it’s about being open for knowledge and experiences that others might have. It’s also about finding ways so that this dialogue and openness can influence politics and prioritizations and resource allocations. (…) The project is also about finding a way to let culture become an important part in the design of our cities and community.
Barbara Stacher, policy officer at the EU-Commission and responsible for the CCSC-project, talked about the imprint the project created:
– The project found its way into official documents, EU policy documents such as ‘The new European agenda for culture’ and ‘The expert report on participatory government on cultural in heritage or new work plan for culture’.
Asma Mansour assumed the role of the project leader for CCSC:
– The intention was to work together in a pilot project where we can experiment with how one drafts policies. We worked together with researchers and Urban Labs in different cities and regions in Europe during 2,5 years to try to find new ways to co-create and to develop joint methods for public policies.
One of the central components of the project is Urban Lab. Seven Urban Labs participated in CCSC with an organisation or institution as leading partner which in return collaborated locally with several stakeholders. Participants can be public employees, decision-makers, cultural centers and actors, creative hubs, entrepreneurs, researchers and independent artists. All in all, 47 partner organisations in 22 countries worked together to find new innovative solutions to communicate and to create a new way to develop policies.
The city lab
Urban Lab Lund: Lund has worked with investigating how to best promote collaboration and ecosystem-thinking, sharing knowledge and resources as well as which role the city and/or cultural and innovation actors should take on. Does the municipality need to take on a new role? Which methods and activities work best when a new ecosystem shall be built? It is about how to work at the intersection of organisations and how to gather common interests and possibilities.
Urban Lab Madrid: The central question was: How can we improve the public program so that one can work with children and make sure that the childrens voice is heard?
Urban Lab Kaapeli Helsinki: This part of the project revolves around giving a physical space for active citizens and to create activities i Kaapeli (cable manufactury). The project focused particularly on older citizens and persons from with less priviledged backgrounds. The project wanted to create more active citizens who become co-creators.
Urban Lab Skåne: How can the public administration mobilise and engage different stakeholders in developing and implementing the regional culture plan? The lab included more than 80 stakeholders from a broad variety with participants from different administrative departments in Region Skåne, municipalities and cultural organisations.
Urban Lab Timisiora: How can communities contribute to create general politics? How can one make sure that citizens can contribute to co-creation politics and even assume responsibility for it?
Urban lab Saint Boi Coboi: Focusses their work around the topic of giving citizens the opportunity to develop public innovation projects and create development projects.
Urban Lab Kosice: The lab involved different stakeholders to formulate a vision for the city’s cultural strategy.
Trans Europe Halles is a partner of Future by Lund and preparatory work before the project started was done by Trans Europe Halles together with Future by Lund, Lund kommun/cultural department as well as Region Skåne.
The CCSC project is supported by the EU.
Text big picture: During the first days Lund and romanian Timisora had a joint workshop, ’’Taking a new role for Change’’. Despite the different starting points of both cities Katarina Scott (Lund) and Andreaa Lager (Timisora) discovered that there existed common insights of the field.
Translated by Christin Scheller