Culture and cultural heritage including Cultural and Creative Industries, are vital assets for regional competitiveness and social cohesion, while constituting key elements of the identity of cities and regions. Furthermore, cultural participation has a significant impact on residents’ quality of life, contributing to their well-being and their sense of belonging. Cities are laboratories of culture-based innovation. They can play a key role, targeting their strategies to enable citizens and communities to benefit from culture and heritage resources for their future, and acting as catalysers for the wide spectrum of stakeholders and authorities concerned by integrated investments. Such integrated approach needs to reflect above all the needs of local residents, in order to facilitate their access to and participation in culture. The concept of “access” focuses on enabling citizens to use the available cultural offer, also by “opening doors” to non-traditional audiences to enjoy cultural offer or heritage sites. The concept of “participation” (in decision making, in the creative processes, etc.) recognises the residents as active stakeholders, to be involved in planning and creating the cultural offer.
The New European Agenda for Culture (May, 2018), stresses that stimulating participation in cultural heritage remains a challenge for cities in the EU. In order to address these challenges, the 5th UIA call for proposals invited urban authorities to propose community-based solutions in accessibility to and participation in culture and cultural heritage which can have a positive impact on growth and jobs, social cohesion and social inclusion, especially undertaking:
- Social inclusion and cohesion approaches. Such approach seeks to improve access and participation to cultural and recreational services (e.g. cultural “third places”) which can foster intercultural dialogue.
- Open governance models. The aim is to engage a wide spectrum of actors in the public, non-for-profit, private sectors (to promote sustainable business models) with a particular focus on citizens’ inclusion. Such objective induce undertaking an innovative participatory governance and management models for cultural heritage and cultural assets for example, but not exclusively, by looking for synergies between urban policies and digital humanities which can contribute to culture-centred participatory urban processes.
- Sustainable strategies for developing culture and cultural heritage. Solutions should look beyond traditional heritage forms and acknowledge the natural heritage, especially in peri-urban areas and historic centres to create quality public spaces to improve sense of belonging and resilience of cities. Moreover, they should identify new strategies for more sustainable tourism flows, tapping on the potential of minor/peri-urban/rural heritage sites.