PICNIC was part of the speaker line up at last week's inspiring Forum d'Avignon Ruhr, organised by our good friends at the European Centre for Creative Economy (ECCE).

Creativity and Culture at the Heart of European City and Regional Development...

The beautiful SANAA Building

The Forum d’Avignon, the European Centre for Creative Economy (ECCE) and the former European Capital of Culture RUHR.2010 have entered into a Franco-German partnership called the Forum d’Avignon Ruhr. The goal of this partnership is to shape policies for the future by bringing leading European figures from diverse fields together to examine economic and cultural changes which have come about and which are coming about because of digitalisation in the 21st century. The Forum’s objective is to influence these changes and contribute to sustainable growth through cross-sector strategies covering culture, economy, technology, media and politics. The theme of this year’s Forum was “Creating Progress: Strategic Partnerships for Culture and Economy in a Digitally Networked Society”. Click here for a short video report.

The Forum attracted approximately 100 participants from all over Europe, including novelists, fashion designers, architects, artists, musicians, academics, EU and federal, state and local German government officials, event organizers and consultants. The program was jam-packed with interesting presentations and panel discussions. Here are some of the highlights:

Germany and North Rhine Westphalia’s Efforts to Promote the Creative Industries 
Germany and its states are investing significantly in initiatives which strengthen the creative and cultural industries. The creative industries are the third most important industry sector in Germany, behind automotive and mechanical engineering. 

Hannelore Kraft, Premier of the State of North Rhine Westphalia, spoke about how the state undertook a new interdisciplinary approach to regional development in 1989, focusing on stimulating business, technology, higher education and the creative industries. She said that today, 10% of Germans now associate the Ruhr with culture and creativity, up from 2%. Gunter Winands, Germany’s Federal Government Commissioner for Culture and the Media, told the audience that Germany’s has 240,000 companies active in the creative industries which employ approx. one million people and generate EUR 130 billion in revenues. He added that the German government is supporting “Creative Europe”, an initiative that will launch in 2014 which will offer loans to small creative companies which normally have problems receiving loans from banks.

Charles Landry’s Presentation on the Success Factors of Capitals of Culture
Charles Landry, an expert on cities and a dear friend of PICNIC/former speaker, was commissioned by the Forum d’Avignon Ruhr to examine the qualitative success factors of a number of very different Capitals of Culture including Bilbao, Krakow, Liverpool, Bologna, Lille and the Ruhr Metropolis.

He gave an inspiring keynote presentation which concluded that there are huge opportunities for second, third, fourth and fifth level cities which develop smart strategies for growth and development. To him, the most successful cities of the future will be those that create dynamic mental and physical spaces and bring these together. He outlined five key indicators for successful cities: enlightenment, entertainment, empowerment and expression, employability and the ability to be effective and economic. He also commented that it’s time to make suburbs more interesting.

“Why are you Creative?” exhibit by German artist, Hermann Vaske 
Hermann Vaske opened his exhibition in Zollverein’s SANAA Building. The exhibition includes 365 original drawings and writings from some of the top creative minds from around the world, including Bono, Stephen Hawking, Nelson Mandela, Quentin Tarantino, Moby, Pedro Almodavar, Frank Gehry, Damien Hirst and the Dalai Lama. The exhibition also includes video interviews in which these people talk about their creative processes and views on creativity.

 

Zollverein: the event’s venue
The Forum took place at Zollverein, a UNESCO World Heritage site, which was formerly one of Germany’s largest coal mining complexes. Zollverein represents the province of North Rhine Westphalia’s formidable industrial past as well as its promising future as a creative and cultural centre. The Dutch connection was in full force: Rem Koolhaas and his firm, OMA, developed Zollverein’s new masterplan which converted the complex into a space housing museums, conference facilities, a design school, established companies, a “Creative Village” for start ups and young companies, and lots of green spaces for the public to enjoy. Highlights include the SANAA Building which houses the Folkwang University of the Arts, the Red Dot Museum and the Ruhr Museum.

Zollverein

I spoke on a panel about efforts to establish European cities and cultural and creative hubs. Amsterdam is widely recognized as a major creative capital and this is due to many issues, most importantly strong and active connections between business and the creative industries, significant government support and a multicultural, diverse and international city environment.

All in all, the Forum d’Avignon Ruhr was a great event. Lots of relevant information, loads of networking and a hearty dose of inspiration. Congratulations and thanks to Dieter, Bernd, Maria and the rest of the team at the European Centre for Creative Economy (ECCE) for organizing the event. PICNIC is looking forward to continuing to work together!

- Deborah Carter, PICNIC's Director of Sponsoring and Partnerships

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