The EUROCITIES study on ‘Cities’ external cultural relations: trends and actions’ highlights the role of large European cities in external cultural relations. Based on responses from 13 cities, it describes cities’ roles as key actors in the field of external cultural relations, actively developing and maintaining cultural relations with cities around the world.
The main findings of our study are:
- Cities are laboratories for new models and working methods for external cultural relations; their size and status make them important actors on the global stage, while their proximity to citizens allows their policies and actions to be responsive and innovative.
- Cities are test-beds for a new way of engaging with external partners based on collaboration and cocreation rather than the showcasing that is traditionally associated with cultural relations and cultural diplomacy.
- Cities are transmitting European values outside the EU through a city to city and citizen to citizen model. Many cities expressly refer to their European values as a key driver of their external cultural relations.
This study is particularly timely, coming shortly after the European Council adopted their conclusions for an EU strategic approach to international cultural relations. In these conclusions the Commission proposes to consider pilot projects in third countries to test forms of collaboration, including joint actions and creative cross-sectoral partnerships, with the involvement of local cultural actors and local authorities.
Our study clearly shows city authorities to be important potential partners for such pilot projects and future EU actions in the field of international cultural relations. There are many innovative policies and actions already present in cities, which have the potential to inform and inspire the future development of international cultural relations at a national and European level.