Culture-led development strategies have direct and indirect impacts on social inclusion, social innovation and intercultural dialogue. Access to culture for all increases social cohesion at local level, but also strengthens considerably the sense of belonging to a city and local pride. Access to culture, including audience development, is also a key concern in cultural policies across Europe in order to bridge social disparities.
Access to culture as a means of social inclusion and intercultural dialogue
Culture can be a powerful instrument in promoting social inclusion and managing diversity. Initiatives designed to ensure effective access to and participation in cultural activities can have many positive impacts at local level. Cities are particularly well positioned to implement culture-related activities with a social objective/purpose. Culture is also a key to foster intercultural dialogue. Promoting intercultural dialogue provides a means to enjoy the richness of cultural diversity by fostering mutual understanding and establishing linkages between different cultures, communities and people.
Culture as a driver of civic participation
Culture is increasingly regarded as a tool to foster citizens’ participation in public life. The cultural and creative sector is permeated with values such as free exchange, critical thinking, personal development, solidarity, cooperation, networking, diversity and co-creation. Those values can spread from the cultural field through the society as a whole in many ways such as forms of community arts, workshops or voluntary programmes.
Social innovation through culture
By promoting citizens’ participation, forms of co-creation and involvement, culture can also be instrumental to social innovation by stimulating new forms of problem solving and innovative governance models to address societal challenges. Creativity, lateral thinking and imagination are particularly valuable in generating new ideas to solve societal issues through the creation of new products, services and models. Innovative participatory approaches have been experimented at local level as an opportunity to give new dynamism to cities’ plans by involving citizens in the decision-making process.