Mayor welcomes international cooperation on culture in World Cities

14 November 2013

London is sharing its expertise as a top cultural destination with cities from around the globe, as they gather this week for the second World Cities Culture Summit.

With more than half of the world's population now living in cities, culture is increasingly recognised as key to their success - socially, economically and developmentally. Twenty two cities are taking part in the World Cities Culture Summit, at which they will argue that culture is integral to public policy. They will say that world cities are not just centres of political and economic influence and power, but are also cultural powerhouses, thanks to the dynamism, scale and diversity of the activities that take place in them.

The summit follows last year's inaugural meeting in London, organised under the auspices of the World Cities Culture Forum. Originally initiated by the Mayor of London, the forum was founded by London, New York, Shanghai, Paris, Tokyo, Sydney, Johannesburg, and Istanbul, to highlight the important contribution of culture to the economic and social success of world cities.

The Mayor of London Boris Johnson comments: 'More than 50 per cent of the world's population is based in cities and culture is a major reason why people gravitate to them – to live, work or visit. It is also hugely important to the economy, creating jobs and attracting tourists. Overseas visitors going to cultural institutions generate an estimated £3 billion to our city's economy and almost 80 per cent of overseas visitors say culture is a key reason to come here. Culture is the lifeblood of cities, adding to their excitement and the quality of life for those of us who reside in them, but also adding to their distinctiveness on the global stage, and it is critical that we keep it high on the policy agenda.'

World cities face many big challenges - health, transport infrastructure, housing, and unemployment and it is easy to see how culture can be overlooked. But as the rapid growth in membership of the World Cities Culture Forum – rising from 12 to 22 - demonstrates, there is widespread acknowledgement that culture is central to a city's success - if you want to be a successful world city in the 21st century you need a high quality, distinctive cultural offer. The World Cities Culture Summit will be an opportunity to share innovative practice from across the globe and understand better how to successfully embed culture into wider social and economic strategies.

Istanbul, the largest city in Turkey and the country's economic, cultural and historical heart, is hosting the summit, which will be seeking to develop the debate. Increasing globalisation, the impact of emerging economies and the ongoing effects of the economic downturn mean city leaders are looking to develop strategies that support the conditions in which artists and cultural production, as well as experiences, are able to thrive.

Professor Ahmet Bilgili, Director of the Istanbul Culture and Tourism Directorate, who has participated in the World Cities Culture Forum since its inception says: 'It is a great pleasure for us to welcome you in Istanbul on behalf of the Ministry of Culture and Tourism. It is also a great honour to be a part of the World Cities Culture Forum since its inception and as a founding member. Culture is finally reaching its well-deserved place in urban policy and the World Cities Culture Forum serves both as a platform for cooperation between world cities and as a source of information and experience for those who are willing to contribute and learn more about the critical role that culture can play in urban development. I hope that the World Cities Culture Forum Istanbul Summit serves as a milestone for further cultural cooperation between world cities.'

Paul Owens, BOP Consulting, who leads the team coordinating the forum says: 'The World Cities Culture Forum is a powerful new global voice for the huge potential of culture in the future development of cities. In Istanbul we will be showcasing the latest thinking and practice in cultural development and forging a new cultural agenda that puts culture even closer to the heart of urban policymaking in the world's greatest cities.'

With 22 cities now involved, an update to last year's World Cities Culture Report has been produced to coincide with the summit. Commissioned by the Mayor of London in partnership the other cities signed up to the forum, it has been produced by BOP Consulting and contains a wealth of new information and data. It encompasses formal cultural activity, such as museums, galleries and concert halls, and informal activity such as outdoors arts and festivals, and bars and restaurants.

The World Cities Culture Report is now available to download from: and


Notes to editors

World Cities Culture Forum – new members in bold and starred.

  1. Amsterdam *
  2. Beijing *
  3. Berlin
  4. Bogotá *
  5. Buenos Aires *
  6. Hong Kong *
  7. Istanbul
  8. Johannesburg
  9. London
  10. Los Angeles *
  11. Montréal *
  12. Mumbai
  13. New York
  14. Paris
  15. Rio de Janeiro *
  16. São Paulo
  17. Seoul *
  18. Shanghai
  19. Singapore
  20. Sydney
  21. Tokyo
  22. Toronto *
  • The World Cities Culture Report 2013 was commissioned by the Mayor of London in partnership with 18 of the cities featured in it and produced by BOP Consulting.
  • Using 60 indicators, the World Cities Culture Report 2013 provides a robust evidence base the report aimed at helping world cities improve the quality of their cultural policies. Ranging from museums and concert halls, to bars, restaurants and festivals, it encompasses both formal and informal cultural activity.
  • The 2013 report takes as its starting point a definition and framework for analysing culture that is recommended by UNESCO. The indicators cover cultural provision, consumption and participation across six themes: cultural heritage; literary culture; performing arts; film and games; human capital; and cultural vitality and diversity.
  • The research was led by BOP Consulting. BOP Consulting is the UK's leading specialist consultancy in culture, creativity and public policy. It focuses on research, evaluation, strategy and planning in these areas, and has built up a strong reputation for producing pioneering and high-quality work. BOP is particularly skilled at translating research findings into useful policy recommendations.

In recent years it has developed an international client base, working in China, South Africa, Latin America and Eastern Europe, and for bodies such as UNESCO, the European Commission and the Council of Europe.

  • Istanbul Culture and Tourism Directorate is the provincial representative and local coordinating body of the Turkish Ministry of Culture and Tourism. The Directorate contributes to the international promotion of Istanbul and manages the tourism information offices located in the city’s touristic districts. Its officials conduct regular audits of the tourism sector (hotels, travel agencies, tour guides, etc.) to ensure they comply with the standards determined by the Ministry. The Directorate’s responsibilities further include the smooth operation of the city’s public museums and libraries, providing official certificates to cultural establishments (such as cinemas and publishers), hosting and supporting arts and cultural events as well as organizing workshops to identify the sector needs.