Culture for Future

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Main actors

Local Government, National Government, Private Sector, NGO / Philanthropy, Community / Citizen Group

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Project area

Whole City/Administrative Region

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2020 - 2022

The Culture for Future project accompanies the creation and implementation of sustainability strategies in Dresden's cultural institutions. It was initiated by the Dresden Office for Culture and Monument Protection and the Dresden Environmental Centre and is supported in its implementation by the independent think tank and advisory institution for climate, environment and development adelphi. It is funded by the Council for Sustainable Development.
Five cultural institutions from different cultural areas were deliberately selected for the pilot project, from orchestras to museums, libraries, theatres and music festivals. The different catalogues of measures and approaches adapted to the respective institution are intended to provide orientation for the sustainability strategy of other institutions. The successes of these five lighthouse projects and the respective challenges in the process are intended to further establish sustainability as a topic in culture and illustrate it with practical examples.
Originally published by Eurocities – Cultural Heritage In Action: LINK

Sustainable Development Goals

Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all
Reduce inequality within and among countries
Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable
Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns
Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts
Promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels
Dresden, Germany

Size and population development
As of December 31, 2020, the city of Dresden had a population of 556,227 inhabitants, making it the twelfth-largest city in Germany. The population has been steadily growing since the early 2000s, with an increase of about 12% between 2000 and 2020.

Population composition
Approximately 8.2% of Dresden's population are foreign nationals, with the largest groups coming from Syria, Russia, China, Poland, and Ukraine. The city has a relatively young population, with an average age of 43.3 years, slightly lower than the German average of 44.6 years.

Main functions
Dresden is the capital city of the German state of Saxony. It is known for its rich history, Baroque architecture, and cultural heritage. The city is home to numerous museums, art galleries, and historical landmarks, such as the Zwinger Palace, the Semperoper opera house, and the Frauenkirche cathedral. Dresden is also an important economic and educational center in eastern Germany, with a strong focus on high-tech industries, research, and development.

Main industries / business
Dresden's economy is diverse and largely based on high-tech industries, such as microelectronics, nanotechnology, and biotechnology. The city is home to several large corporations, including Globalfoundries, Infineon Technologies, and Volkswagen. It also has a thriving startup scene and is known as "Silicon Saxony" due to its concentration of high-tech companies. Tourism also plays a significant role in Dresden's economy, with millions of visitors coming to the city each year to experience its cultural and historical attractions.

Sources for city budget
The city of Dresden's budget comes from various sources, including local taxes (e.g., property tax and business tax), federal and state transfers, fees, and charges for public services. The city also receives funding from the European Union for various projects and initiatives.

Political structure
Dresden is governed by a city council (Stadtrat) and a mayor (Oberbürgermeister). The city council consists of 70 members elected for a five-year term and is responsible for making decisions on local policies and budgets. As the capital of Saxony, Dresden also hosts the state government (Sächsische Staatsregierung) and the state parliament (Sächsischer Landtag).

Administrative structure
The city of Dresden is divided into ten boroughs (Ortsamtsbereiche), each with its own local administration responsible for certain decentralized tasks, such as social services, youth welfare, and urban planning. The central city administration oversees citywide matters and coordinates the work of the borough administrations.

The world is facing enormous challenges due to the global climate crisis. The Paris Agreement and the Agenda 2030 highlight the social and ecological crisis of our time. We need to redefine and practice responsibility for our own operational actions in terms of sustainability. For a future worth living, it is now essential to develop and consistently implement sustainability strategies in the ecological, economic and social fields. Cultural institutions play a key role as spaces for discourse and dialogue. 
The central objective of this project is to support a comprehensive sustainability transformation of the cultural sector and to influence society, politics and the economy with this. 
Art and culture thrive on diversity and internationality. It is important to find ways of conscientiously handling artistic, scientific and production-related resources when considering the tensions between artistic freedom, the preservation of material and immaterial cultural assets, ecological and social responsibility. In this context, cultural institutions themselves should be a role model and adopt and communicate sustainability measures. 
At the heart of the project is the participatory idea - the cultural institutions should above all be supported in starting their measures in a process of participation. This means that all employees are taken along on the sustainability journey and can become actors themselves. Through “bottom-up” development, they develop a high level of identification with the sustainability strategy. In addition, the involvement of employees from all areas enables sustainability measures to be closely linked to everyday work, thereby creating the basis for the sustainability strategy to be lived and implemented.
1. The pilot project selected five cultural institutions from different sectors, ranging from orchestras to museums, libraries, theatres, and music festivals. The idea was to include institutions from different art genres, diverse management structures, and experience levels.
2. All staff members became active actors highly skilled in identifying sustainability measures, and which were integrated in their everyday work. 
3. During a series of workshops, employees of the participating cultural institutions developed the Dresden Charter for Sustainability, which many more organisations have signed. 
4. The results were presented in a final event in which the Charter and the guidelines developed by the five institutions were presented to the interested public and decision-makers. 
5. In parallel, two complementary events Culture Connect and Peer Catch-up. were used as platforms for discussion among the participants in the project.
The total budget of the initiative was €130,000, which was the sum of mixed funding, including own resources and in-house services -60% of the funding sources came from the municipality and 40% from the national administration, specifically the German Council for Sustainable Development.
Numerous stakeholders and interested parties were involved. These included: Cultural actors, both from the public sector and the independent scene; sustainability actors of Dresden; local and national good practices; and municipal offices and departments. The leading project team consists of three employees from the office for culture and monument protection. They contributed to and still shape the Charter. The consultancy Adelphi contributed with one permanent person and punctually with additional staff and experts. The Dresden Environmental Centre was on hand with one advisor.

The participating institutions have committed to reach sustainability goals in the cultural sector by signing the Dresden Charter for Sustainability. The signatories undertake to report regularly on their sustainability measures. The Charter supports a comprehensive sustainability transformation of the cultural sector and wants to impact society, politics and the economy. All cultural institutions and actors in the arts and cultural sector are called to join the Charter and to undertake their sustainability efforts.

Dresden’s Culture Development Plan identified climate protection and sustainability as crosscutting issues that should be addressed by the cultural sector with cross-sectoral action planning. The main challenge for the city was to introduce sustainability practices in the cultural and creative industries, and to involve and support them in developing their sustainability strategies.

Lessons Learned:
The Culture for Future project offers concrete guidelines for action on sustainability applicable to various cultural institutions. 
  • Do not be overwhelmed by the complexity of the topic. 
  • Analyse what already exists. 
  • Set priorities and accordingly formulate clear, achievable goals and measures.
This practical work within cultural institutions was supplemented by the Culture Connect and Peer Catch-up formats. The Culture Connect events with a regional group of participants served in particular to transfer knowledge and covered topics with central and often everyday relevance for sustainability initiatives in cultural institutions in Dresden and beyond.
The focus of the Peer Catch-up series was networking and exchange between the five institutions participating in the project and the constantly growing network of cultural institutions with an interest in sustainability. The aim of these events was to deepen collaboration between various cultural sectors in order to reveal synergies and learn about mutual progress.

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Jakki Mann
Melbourne , Australia

Jakki Mann

Individual | Content Curator

Katharina Metz
Berlin, Germany

Katharina Metz

Individual | Project & Communications Manager

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