Future of work is creative: how the Festival of Creativity engaged the local community in the project’s grand finale
In a city as Cluj Napoca with over 100 festivals and 3000 cultural events organized every year, the battle for the attention of the local public can be tough but at the same time it can be particularly challenging for community and cultural organizers, who are always looking for new formats and styles for intriguing the public.
Attracting the attention of a diversified local audience on a topic such as the future of work which rises interesting and controversial questions on the future of our societies and the places where we live can be even more difficult.
The City of Cluj Napoca and the Cluj Cultural Center chose the languages of arts and creativity for presenting the results of Cluj Future of Work in the framework of the Festival of Creativity.
The fifth edition of this event, considered until 2018 (the year in which the last edition of the event was organized) as a point of reference for the local community of artists and creative people, took place between 29th September and 2nd October 2022 in different locations of the city centre. The festival was conceived since the beginning of Cluj Future of Work as a disruptive and multifaceted cultural event, able to bring local people closer to the questions which guided the reflections of the cultural and creative industry of the city in the years of the UIA project.
Bringing the future of work into public spaces and cultural spaces
“How does the future look like to you?” is the question printed in large volumetric letters at the end of the exhibition route of the temporary pavilion installed in Plata Unirii, the main square of Cluj Napoca. Visitors were asked to answer this question by sticking the keywords of their choice on a large red wall, creating an impressive effect not only for the quality of the answers but also for the desire to express their views, visions and aspirations in a creative way.
“The public was very responsive, everybody gathered there just to answer. At the beginning, we were sure that most of the people were just giving answers for fun, but when the exhibition opened we saw people genuinely interested in answering all the questions we posed. Participation was over our expectations, we were overwhelmed by the engagement of the people” says Georgiana Ciceo, co-founder of ZAIN, delivery partner of Cluj Future of Work and main organizer of the event.
The main exhibition consisted of eight installations and was conceived by emerging artists and designers with the objective of giving a glimpse into the future of work to visitors. Furniture pieces created with traditional crafts, vintage chairs turned into sustainable products, soundproof capsules designed for workspaces are just some of the ideas of future productions developed by local artists and designers, who included their personal vision of the future into an exhibition where visitors could interact with objects, lights and materials.
New partnerships and connections for the future of work in Cluj Napoca
The huge participation of visitors to the series of events (27 in total) and exhibitions organized in different cultural premises around the city showed how much the topic of the future of work is seen as an interesting ground for sharing innovative ideas among the people. “At the beginning, we expected that we had to teach about the topic to the people, but we realized how much the community was aware of the challenges we brought under the spotlight and that people are convinced that the future of work needs to be necessarily creative” says Georgiana Ciceo.
After two years of pandemic emergency, the organization of events onsite was also useful for presenting to a wide public the creations developed by the finalists of the Culturepreneurs programme. One of the exhibitions, hosted by the Municipal House of Culture, was dedicated to them and constituted an important opportunity for connecting the participants of the acceleration programme at the core of Cluj Future of Work with potential investors, buyers and other artists and designers for developing new collaborations. With most of the marketing activities carried out online until the first half of 2022, the organization of an onsite event was an important showcase for local productions that are inspiring a broader reflection on the connection between design and sustainability.
Raising awareness of the challenges of the future of work
The final event of Cluj Future of Work accomplished its mission of putting the spirit of the project in a nutshell: the creation of a resilient working ecosystem for future jobs in the city is a collective exercise. The objective laying behind the exhibitions and the debates was to give as many inspiring elements as possible to different sectors of the local community for being prepared for the social and technological changes that are going to happen in the near future while enjoying the product of artists’ imagination.
Delivering permanent schemes for recognizing trends in the evolution of jobs and skills and for elaborating community strategies is a challenge that emerged from the great interest shown by the participants to the event, but also by partners and stakeholders who contributed to the success of Cluj Future of Work in the last few years.
“Cluj-Napoca is a growing city whose energy relies a lot on culture, creativity, tech, university and citizen engagement. Our bet is that imagining the future of work in the cultural and creative sectors and with the means of culture is actually planning for a more sustainable and value-adding labour market and therefore a better society” says Ștefan Teișanu, director of Cluj Cultural Centre.