Metropolis of Europe

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Urban cultural life and inter-city cultural interactions for cultural diversity in Europe

CIRCLE Network was realising this project between 1 December, 2004 - 28 February, 2006

Read the Budapest report here

Purpose, description and rationale of the RESEARCH project

Multi- and inter-cultural processes are becoming more and more complex, opening up many questions such as:    have contemporary European societies, in particular cultural leaders and managers in our major cities, developed a clear vision of the policy challenges of cultural diversity?  To what extent are they exploiting the potential of our urban spaces in ways that can contribute to better multi- and inter-cultural cooperation?  In what ways are they fostering culturally diverse artistic/cultural expression at the local and international levels? How are the imperatives of the return to roots and local identities being recognized with the imperatives of cultural heterogeneity?  What new elements does globalisation bring to the rhetoric and practice of active multiculturalism?  What interdependencies are being developed between the European metropolises?

The research therefore explored developments that had taken place over the last three years in 6 European cities, with a view to eliciting and analysing comparative empirical data focussing on different or different forms of artistic practice and involvement.  Which forms have been validated, sustained and developed?  As these cities have become increasingly plural in the cultural origins and affiliations of their populations, what significant cultural changes have occurred? In what ways have these cities been ‘laboratories' for new fusions and interactions?  What hybrid forms have emerged through the increasing coalescence of artistic grammars and vocabularies?   What new forms are rejected and what traditional practices are being maintained? What forms provide the core of exchanges between and among these cities?

In effect, the project sought to explore inter-city interactions and co-operation in particular. In so doing, the research highlighted the currently central issue of ‘cultural diversity' in its various senses, principally ‘those ethnically-marked cultural differences associated with the international movement of peoples and, within national territories, the claims to difference associated with the protracted struggles of in situ minorities to maintain their identity.' (Tony Bennett, Differing Diversities, 2001). It paid particular attention to the cultural industries as the principal vector of contemporary cultural expression and will address the ‘new cosmopolitanism' in European cities, defined inter alia by the currently ongoing Changing City Spaces research project as the processes whereby new identities as well as forms of cultural encounter and interaction are being constructed, including new trans-national connections and dynamics of inclusion/exclusion, social integration/social fragmentation. 

The research developed a set of recommendations aimed at increasing mobility of operators in the cultural sector - particularly those involved in the cultural industries and in developing multi- and inter-cultural synergies and dialogue.

Six cities were chosen for this comparative analysis and research: 

  • Barcelona (Spain) report director: Lluis Bonet
  • Budapest (Hungary) report directors: János Z. Szabó, Krisztina Keresztély (both from the Budapest Observatory)
  • Paris (France) report director: Justin McGuinness
  • Tallinn (Estonia) report director: Mikko Lagerspetz
  • Rome (Italy) report director: Carla Bodo
  • Warsaw (Poland) report director: Dorota Ilczuk  

Planned research activities 

The research sought out data and information regarding culturally-diverse artistic practice and cultural production in each participating city, as well as regarding cultural co-operation between cities.  The researchers explored existing research, carry out field work on the ground and elaborate their own analyses of cultural activities in their assigned city. 

Each researcher prepared a comprehensive report which addressed the following sorts of questions: 

  • What new artistic and cultural vocabularies and forms are being absorbed and/or developed in/by the cities (change rather than continuity)?
  • What is being rejected (continuity rather than change)?
  • In what measure are new cultural practices and emergent cultural industries culturally diverse and/or hybrid?
  • How should one deal with dual cultural space: one for residents and the other for visitors?
  • What are the recent trends in international cultural exchanges among European cities?
  • What is the new face of the metropolises: local tradition vis-a-vis globalisation?
  • How do localism and multiculturalism relate to each other?
  • What levels of inter-cultural synergy exist and what policies are provided to increase inter-cultural dialogue?

The research focused on cultural policy makers; civic initiatives promoters and personnel from key cultural industries and new urban cultural spaces. 
The country reports were presented at the CIRCLE Round Table co-organised by the Warsaw Research Institute (WRI) and the Pro Cultura Foundation  (possible venue is Warsaw). The title of the Conference was "Metropolis of Europe. URBAN CULTURAL LIFE AND INTER-CITY CULTURAL INTERACTIONS FOR ‘CULTURAL DIVERSITY' IN EUROPE". CIRCLE together with the WRI Pro Cultura helped to discuss the findings and build conclusions and recommendations in consultation with leading experts in the field. The CIRCLE Round Table is a unique event in which the idea of a round table is physically maintained with everyone of equal status around the table.  The event was organised to encourage debate and a deepening of ideas amongst at least 20 leading experts from across Europe.

A publication was edited by Raj Isar and Dorota Ilczuk. It will be based on the city reports and conference conclusions. It will contain description and analysis of cultural phenomena and tendencies as well as, recommendations addressed to all actors engaged in conceptualisation and embodiment of cultural policies in the European Metropolises, such as:

  • Expert's and practitioners in the field of cultural policy
  • Researchers of cultural policy and city cultures from many European countries
  • Policy-makers in the field of cultural policy.
  • CIRCLE members and non-governmental institutions dealing with cultural policy issues
  • Inter-governmental organisations.

Project location

The project is directed by Dorota Ilczuk, President of WRI Pro Cultura (Warsaw) and  Y.Raj Isar, Jean Monnet Professor at The American University of Paris.  It will be  co-ordinated  by Diane Dodd (CIRCLE in Barcelona) and Magdalena Kulikowska (WRI Pro Cultura, Warsaw).  The experts' working meeting was held in Rome and the round table was held in Warsaw.