World Cities and Culture
Does size matter?
London's cultural sector shares more with Istanbul, Berlin or Johannesburg than anywhere in the UK.
So what does it have in common with its nearest large neighbours? For instance, an hour away by train, Brighton is has just nine theatres, two museums, and a few heritage sites. It attracted about 1 million international tourists, most of whom will have come via London.
The difference is huge.
London is not just a world city, it’s a world cultural city.
Dozens of studies have identified World Cities or Global Cities. These are the big name cities that dominate their countries and often their regions.
The typical cultural characteristics that they have are international, first-name familiarity.
But also, they typically have major cultural institutions, like galleries, ballet companies, orchestras. And because of these characteristics World Cities often have more in common with each other than other cities in their own countries.
The World Cities Culture Report
This is highlighted by the World Cities Culture Report, a major new piece of research by BOP Consulting, a London-based firm. (Full disclosure: I work there and they are partners of Labkultur.tv).
The report takes 12 World Cities - including Labkultur.tv's London, Berlin and Istanbul - as well as New York, Sydney, Shanghai, Paris, Johannesburg, Sao Paolo, Berlin, Mumbai and Singapore.
Here's a short video explaining it.
The premise is that culture is international - so why shouldn't policymakers look internationally for new ideas and approaches. The report says: "In the era of globalisation, World Cities are increasingly competing with each other, rather than other cities in their own countries, for such things as the headquarters of multinational firms,or the rights to hold major sporting or cultural events.'
And if the report tells us anything, it is that as cities grow, culture becomes even more important to help them stand out and manage change.
But that also means they have a lot more to learn from other cities facing similar challenges - whether it’s attracting investment or managing immigration. For cities and culture, size matters.
Banner image, Stuck in Customs on Flickr Creative Commons