COVID Briefs Building back better: post-pandemic city governance

Large European cities’ post-pandemic recovery strategies for the cultural and creative sectors

Pier Luigi Sacco

Professor of Cultural Economics, IULM University & Senior Researcher, metaLAB (at) Harvard

The pandemic shock has proven a powerful stress test for the cultural and creative sectors of large European cities. Immediate relief packages have been designed and implemented in many places, but the level and depth of disruption has nevertheless been substantial and will only be reversible in part. However, the shock is also opening up new possibilities for innovation and structural transformation in the long term. The new opportunities have largely to do with a broadened scope for culture as a platform for stronger citizen engagement in collective problem-solving, in the innovative tackling of major societal challenges, and in addressing some of the weaknesses exposed by the pandemic in urban areas, such as the social disconnection and isolation of fragile individuals and the marginalisation of disenfranchised communities. The New European Agenda for Culture provides a coherent policy framework for experimenting with these new policy routes, but cities will need to cooperate through existing networks and purposely designed ones to scale up local experimentation and take full advantage of peer learning and creative exchange. The Covid-19 crisis has exposed culture’s potential for mental health and social cohesion, paving the way for unprecedented transformational experimentation with culture-driven social innovation practices.

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