World cities are usually thought of in terms of their position as leading centres of trade, commerce and political power, but this major new study published by the Mayor of London shows that world cities are also cultural powerhouses as a result of the dynamism, scale and diversity of the activities they are home to.
The World Cities Culture Report 2012 was commissioned by the Mayor of London and the London Cultural Strategy Group in partnership with nine of the cities featured in it and produced by BOP Consulting. It was launched on 1 August during the Olympic Games at the inaugural World Cities Culture Summit.
The biggest piece of research of its kind
The Mayor of London’s World Cities Culture Report 2012 is the biggest international survey of its kind. It has collected an unprecedented amount of data on the scope and impact of the cultural assets and activities that are produced and consumed in 12 major cities:
- New York
- São Paulo
Using 60 indicators and reports from each of the participating cities, the World Cities Culture Report 2012 shows that culture is seen as important as finance and trade and sits at the heart of public policy.
Culture is at the centre of a city’s success
The World Cities Culture Report 2012 demonstrates that across the world, culture is increasingly recognised as central to the prosperity of cities, for example attracting international visitors and inward investment.
Culture is seen as critical to the image that cities want to present on the international stage, not just those from emerging economies, like Mumbai, Shanghai and São Paulo, but also New York, Paris and London.
It is also seen as a way of addressing complicated city-wide social issues, for example in post-apartheid Johannesburg and in Tokyo, following the East Japan Earthquake.
Culture is at the heart of London’s success
In London, culture has a critical role in ensuring its economic prosperity:
- 1,030 museums and galleries contributed to the city's ability to attract 15 million international tourists in 2011.
- The city's 214 theatres and their world-renowned productions result in more than £500m in ticket sales per year, while the 566 screens of London's 108 cinemas generated over £235m in revenue in 2010.
- With 349 live music venues, 10 major concert halls, 337 night clubs and 37,450 restaurants, London provides its residents with a vibrant cultural environment appealing to industries and talents from around the world.
- 99,360 international students came to study in London higher education colleges in 2010 - 57 of which specialise in culture.
'From Ancient Athens to the present day, cities are where society makes the greatest leaps forward. World cities are international hubs for commerce and trade, but as this groundbreaking report makes clear, they are powerhouses for culture too – in London the creative industries alone contribute £19 billion to our economy and employ 386,000 people. . In coming together as city leaders and policymakers we want to harness the full potential of culture, which makes our cities exciting and desirable places to live in and visit, but also makes a massive contribution to wider social and economic goals.'