One example is the UNESCO Creative Music City Norrköping, a work we need to build on together.
This year, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) celebrates its 75th anniversary. Sweden has been a member since 1950 and today UNESCO is spread all over Sweden. In 2017, Norrköping was named the first Nordic Musical City in the UNESCO Creative Cities Network. Cities work together to promote culture and creativity in the work of implementing the UN’s global sustainability goals. In total, there are about 50 activities associated with UNESCO, from World Heritage sites to research centres, in Sweden.
Today, Sweden is one of UNESCO’s largest donors, and the organization is an important platform for Sweden in global action with, for example, gender equality, freedom of expression and sustainable development. But what does membership really mean at the local and regional level about Sweden?
Among other things, UNESCO’s activities contribute to the preservation of valuable cultural and natural environments, the creation of conditions for dialogue and the development of international cooperation. A study conducted in the UK gives an idea of what UNESCO’s collaboration could mean locally – in the UK, operations generate SEK 1.5 billion each year. Much of this comes from income from people choosing to travel to World Heritage sites and other UNESCO sites. So the money goes to local actors. The study also shows positive effects on society as a whole.
There are many examples of this in Norrköping. Exports, talent development and social sustainability are among the issues that the Musical Community has worked on within the UNESCO Creative Cities in recent years. When the parade festival Echoes of the Future is arranged, including Kulturkvarteret Hallarna, starting in February 2022, ten percent of those on stage will come from one of the 47 music cities.
Examples of how culture contributes to the development of society are the gender equality project Thrive, various models for talent development and the municipality’s work with music education for young people, for example within the School of Culture and various study associations.
In 2018, Kulturspåret was also developed, focusing on the role of culture in integration. In 2021, the first Nordic residence for a visual arts artist and musician connected to the Visualization and Research Center C will be installed at Campus Norrköping.
UNESCO’s activities and the work carried out in connection with it are based almost exclusively on a significant local commitment. Without the significant efforts of non-profit organizations, local authorities, and enthusiasts, it would not exist today.
During the past 75 years, a lot has happened in UNESCO’s Swedish work and we are now looking forward to developing the work locally, nationally and globally. Local commitment will remain the cornerstone of this work.
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