Networking creative cities
CreArt is a network of 12 European cities seeking to foster artistic creativity through training, exchange and promotion of emerging visual artists. This multinational project, led by Valladolid Municipal Foundation for Culture, aims to enhance the lives of artists and citizens in similarly sized cities. By increasing the transnational mobility and visibility of artists and strengthening cultural management skills, CreArt is boosting the economic, social and cultural contribution of the arts in participating cities.
This project was shortlisted for the 'EUROCITIES Awards' in 2018 in the following category: Cooperation.
Valladolid has reinvigorated its cultural offer over the last two decades, opening new cultural venues and hosting high level exhibitions. The development of the creative sector was made a strategic priority by the city administration to help diversify the local economy. This has, however, been against the backdrop of one long standing challenge. Cities of Valladolid’s size - it has a population of 300,000 - tend not to have access to mainstream international contemporary art exhibitions and activities.
The city resolved to respond to these challenges with a bold and sustainable new approach to supporting visual artists. This approach makes the most of Valladolid’s advantages: extensive national exhibition hosting experience, and direct contact with its artists by creating a network of similar sized cities with similar agendas and needs, Valladolid sought to enhance and modernise the visual arts sector at both local and European level.
CreArt, is a permanent and professional system for cultural exchange, skills development and art promotion. As CreArt’s ambitions mirror those of the European Commission’s cultural programme, the City submitted its proposal to an open call, winning almost €3.5 million over five years.
The mayors of 200 cities were invited to join the new network. Fifty replied and 12 municipalities, public institutions and independent foundations, from nine countries, signed up. Regular communication and two annual meetings ensure partners feel connected, share learnings and jointly develop plans. Valladolid’s coordinating team of two also makes full use of the CreArt website and newsletter plus press contacts to spread the word about its projects and open calls.
Four main groups are encouraged to get involved. The first of these is the ‘creative core’ of artists, cultural managers, curators, art journalists, galleries and creative industries. Then there are educational communities, cultural policy makers and citizens. But it is emerging artists who are the main players in CreArt. They take part in its overseas ‘artist in residence’ programme, travelling exhibitions, week-long workshops led by renowned artists, international conferences and seminars on practical issues such as financial management.
Developing the skills and experience of curators and cultural managers is fundamental to CreArt’s approach. The programme meets their needs by providing opportunities to organise collective exhibitions, take part in training workshops and conferences, meet colleagues from other cultural traditions and generate spin off projects.
The CreArt project has a budget of EUR 3,096,148 for 2017-2021.
EUR 1,548,074 is provided by the European Commission through the Creative Europe Programme and the remainder by contributions from the twelve partner cities: Valladolid (Spain); Genoa and Lecce (Italy); Liverpool (United Kingdom); Clermont Ferrand and Rouen (France); Zagreb (Croatia); Kaunas (Lithuania); Lublin and Katowice (Poland); Aveiro (Portugal), and Skopje (North Macedonia).
In its first five years, CreArt organised 26 artist residency programmes, four workshops, 20 seminars and conferences and five travelling exhibitions showcasing the work of 100 artists. It also established the European Day of Artistic Creativity. This annual celebration of the creative process brings art closer to children and citizens, promoting a new relationship between artists and audiences. CreArt has also acted as a catalyst for action among artists themselves, many of whom have formed collaborations with others they have met through CreArt.
CreArt has become a movement for artistic creation and experience and a symbol of quality. Key to its success has been the mobility of cultural stakeholders and artworks - and the way these are managed. Its ‘artist in residence’ programme was held up as an example of best practice by the European Commission. Moreover, participation has helped network coordinators in their daily work, giving them experience of organising European exhibitions, integrating networking into their working methods and embedding CreArt activities into the cultural life of their city.
CreArt’s positive impact on cultural management was highlighted in research by the KEA European Affairs agency into the contribution of artistic creation to local development. Another compelling indicator of success is the European Commission’s decision to continue its support for a further four years, from 2017 to 2021.
The second phase of CreArt (2017-2021) will capitalise on lessons learnt from the first. As a result, it will require city coordinators to be in roles closer to local artists and activities and focus on improving the quality, number and variety of activities, particularly for younger audiences. There are also plans to transform the European Day of Artistic Creativity into a monthlong celebration that fills city streets and spaces and sees cultural activities pop up in unconventional venues such as bars and shops to reach and inspire new audiences.
CreArt - networking creative cities, Valladolid champions artistic creation, EUROCITIES, November 2018: http://nws.eurocities.eu/MediaShell/media/2018_cooperation_Valladolid.pdf