Lagos has recorded a major global recognition for its commitment to the arts and culture as it formally joins the influential World Cities Culture Forum.
Lagos’ membership was ratified at the 7th edition if the World Culture Cities Summit which ended in San Francisco, United States of America on Saturday.
According to a press release signed by the Permanent Secretary, Lagos State Ministry of Tourism Arts and Culture, Mr. Fola Adeyemi, Lagos has now joined globally respected cities like London, New York, Los Angeles, Toronto, Lisbon, Edinburgh, Seoul, Hong Kong and Tokyo which are celebrated as cultural hubs by the World Culture Cities Forum, an initiative of the Office of Mayor of London.
According to the press release, the profile of Lagos State as an arts and culture hub in West Afruca is also featured for the first time in the triennial authoritative publication of the Forum – World Cities Culture Report (2018).
In the report, Lagos is acknowledged for its multi-faceted infrastructural development of the arts and cultural spheres; using cultural tourism to drive growth and improve the profile of the city and its commitment to diversity in the arts and support for artists operating in the visual, digital and performing arts.
The statement quoted the Commissioner for Tourism Arts and Culture, Mr. Steve Ayorinde, who together with the Chairman of the Board of Lagos State Council for Arts and Culture, Mrs Polly Alakija represented Lagos at the summit, of recognising the honour as a validation of the giant strides that the state has recorded in the areas of arts and creative sector in the past three years.
” The honour from World Culture Cities Forum is well deserved and a validation of the commitment that the Lagos State Government has shown to arts and cultural development; more so that it is coming on the heels of Mastercard’s 2018 Report ranking Lagos as the most visited city in Sub-sahara Africa,” the statement quoted Ayorinde as saying.
The statement added that World Cities Culture Report 2018 demonstrates how governments are responding to global challenges with inclusive cultural policies, while describing the Report, which was unveiled in San Francisco on Friday as “the most comprehensive report on culture and cities.”
The report includes data and examples of transformative cultural projects from 35 major global cities including Lagos.
“The World Cities Culture Summit 2018 saw representatives from 32 cities unite to champion culture and share research and best practices as they launched the world’s most comprehensive cultural report.
“The World Cities Culture Report is the first to bring together examples from across the world on how cities are tackling the issues they face with cultural policies. The report outlines the ways in which culture drives regeneration, creates jobs, increases tourism, gives young people positive opportunities and improves health,” the statement says, adding that “the report will enable city and cultural leaders to learn from best practice across the globe, inspiring new approaches in their own cities.”
The report includes examples of how cities are using culture to respond to universal challenges, such as access to education, social divisions and a rising cost of living:
• In Hong Kong, Rome and Moscow, mobile arts venues and libraries are used to bring culture closer to citizens in every corner of their cities, particularly those areas with traditionally lower engagement with arts and culture
• Projects in Montréal, San Francisco and Melbourne, have been developed in collaboration with, and in recognition of, indigenous populations to celebrate and fully acknowledge the cultures of First Nations.
• In Lagos, previously neglected areas are being brought into government’s attention through the One Lagos Fiesta that holds simultaneously across cities and through infrastructural renewal projects that site 500-seater theatres in five areas simultaneously.
• A number of cities are working with migrants and refugees to provide cultural opportunities to marginalised groups, from supporting refugee artist residencies in Paris to Brussels, where their Cinemaximiliaan project provides a welcome to the city, offering film screenings to refugees in parks, asylum centres and people’s homes
• London has established the world’s first Culture at Risk office – a hot line for venues at risk of closure due to rising rates, increasing development and shifting populations, and has been involved in saving 300 venues, from grassroots music venues to LGBT+ spaces
• Stockholm’s cultural administration has teamed up with media company Consigo on a project called Tactsenze, that enables the visually impaired to learn an instrument, an example of social inclusion through technology
• To respond to the needs of a growing ageing population Amsterdam’s Age Friendly Cultural City programme focuses specifically on cultural provision for the city’s older residents
The report also compiles data which paints a detailed picture of the cultural institutions and resources in each city, such as the number of public libraries, museums, art galleries, live music venues and heritage sites. Data on international visitor and student numbers, the percentage of people employed in the creative industries and the foreign-born population are also included by many cities. This data will enable cities to protect and support their existing culture, as well as helping new venues and spaces to flourish.
Co-founder and Director BOP and Director World Cities Culture Forum, Paul Owens, is quoted in the statement as saying: “Through the World Cities Culture Forum we see that our member cities are committed to promoting the common values of openness and inclusivity – and that culture is an essential part of how to make these values tangible for citizens.”