Our cities are struggling

Cities and regions in Europe are facing many challenges nowadays. Welfare resources are declining. Population is ageing. Social inequalities become more visible. To overcome these challenges, we must act collectively. Unfortunately, civil society, the business sector and public administration often work in isolation and rarely communicate. To ensure a sustainable future for cities, we need to bridge the void between different stakeholders. Collaboration between them will stimulate urban development and consequently benefit citizens.

The European Commission decides to turn things around

The European Commission has long recognised the problem. It has also acknowledged a potential that cultural and creative spaces have to build bridges between different stakeholders; find new solutions to the local problems and positively impact urban development. As a result, in spring 2018 The European Commission announced the call “Cultural and Creative Spaces and Cities” that aims to:

1. Bring closer together cultural and creative spaces and local decision-makers.
2. Help to better valorise public spaces for social and urban regeneration through culture.
3. Share best practice concerning social inclusion and the relations of cultural and creative spaces with their neighbourhoods.
4. Explore and share best practice of cultural and creative spaces with aspects of the collaborative economy and innovative models for the delivery of public services

We were given a task to explore different ways to help the cities

In response to the call, Trans Europe Halles together with the European Cultural Foundation, the Peer2Peer Foundation and the University of Antwerp formed a consortium. The consortium seeks to invest in the cultural and creative commons. The idea is to bring workers of cultural and creative sectors together with local decision-makers. Collaboration between both parties will positively impact policy-making. It will encourage a socially-oriented policy-making. The collaboration will be done within the Urban Labs

Project partners

Urban Labs is our way to approach the task

The Urban Labs are the core element of this project. These gather together cultural organisations, local authorities, cultural and creative spaces to explore complex urban challenges in collaboration with other stakeholders. Together, they commit to developing innovative solutions. Seven organisations are responsible for leading and organising seven Urban Labs in partnership with a number of selected organisations, the so-called Handshake Partners. In total, 37 organisations in 21 European countries are part of the Urban Labs. Each Urban Lab is prepared to innovate, re-think and test new approaches to a specific city challenge.

7 Urban Labs with their Handshake Partners

The City of Lund, Sweden and the cultural centre Mejeriet in Lund: City of Giffoni (Italy), City of Kiruna (Sweden), City of Århus and Odense (Denmark).

Northern Tzoumerka, Greece: University of Nicosia (Cyprus), Visual Sociology and Museum Studies Lab, Limassol (Cyprus), Timelab, Ghent (Belgium), Valuecraft Coop, Helsinki (Finland), L’Asilo Napoli (Italy).

Region of Skåne, Sweden: Region Midt-Jylland (Denmark), Region Emilia-Romagna (Italy).

Kaapeli, Helsinki, Finland:  Aparaaditehas, Tartu (Estonia), Urban Institute Biedriba Riga (Latvia), FinEstBayArea Development Helsinki-Tallinn.

AMBASADA, Timisoara, Romania: Foundation Novi Sad 2021 – European Cultural Capital, Novi Sad (Serbia), Bakelit Multi Art Centre Foundation, Budapest (Hungary), Rijeka2020 llc (Croatia), City of Leuven – Cultural and Creative Spaces Vaartopia, Leuven (Belgium), Asociatia Timisoara Capitala Culturala Europeana 2021, Timisoara (Romania), Timisoara City Hall, Timisoara (Romania).

Hablarenarte, Madrid, Spain: European Alternatives, Paris (France), Heart of Glass, Saint Helens (UK).

CIKE, Kosice, Slovakia: Creative Industries Styria, Graz (Austria), Creative Region Linz
& Upper Austria, Linz (Austria), Creativity Lab, Tallinn (Estonia), Creative England,
Bristol (UK), European Centre for Creative Economy, Dortmund (Germany).

The outputs of the project

  • Opening Conference in Brussels
    21 Workshops with local decision-makers at the Urban Labs
    14 Traineeships with 20-24 Handshake Partners and local decision-makers at the Urban Labs
    7 Exchanges between Urban Labs
    5 Thematic Urban Explorations with international participants
    3 Policy co-creation events
    Closing Conference in Brussels
    Knowledge Base on Urban Regeneration
    Benchmarking System of CCI’s
    Publications and case studies
    Online policy toolbox
    Communication Strategy
    3 mini-documentaries about Urban Labs
    Synthesised final study

Visit the landing page of the project to learn more.

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    c/o Mejeriet |Stora Sodergatan 64
    SE – 222 23 Lund | Sweden

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