Culture and creativity – two vital ingredients in the city of the future

Like almost everything we know, cities are a living environment in constant change. They grow, evolve and, above all, adapt to the needs of their inhabitants. This means that, almost imperceptibly, with each day that passes we’re getting closer and closer to the “city of the future”.

One of the most controversial aspects in the development of cities is undoubtedly the coexistence of tradition and modernity. How is it possible for a city to advance without leaving behind its unique identity? 

Well, culture and the creative industries play a fundamental role in creating a unique cutting-edge urban environment, but at the same time, they highlight the value of the city’s historical and monumental heritage, without losing sight of its economic and sustainable development. 

Cities to watch

By about 2050, seven in ten people will live in cities, which means that they will be home to the majority of the planet’s inhabitants. And that’s why it’s so important that their planning and development is focused on criteria for improving social development, making the most of resources, stimulating creativity, generating wealth and promoting multicultural coexistence. 

But let’s go back to the beginning.

What are creative cities?

According to UNESCO, which launched the Creative Cities Network in 2004, these are cities that have identified “creativity as a strategic factor for sustainable urban development” in seven possible areas: crafts and popular arts, digital arts, cinema, design, gastronomy, literature and music. 

Currently the network includes 246 cities that are working together towards the shared goal of putting creativity and cultural industries at the heart of their local development plans, as well as cooperating actively at international level.

The transformative power of the creative and cultural industries 

Creative industries make cities more attractive – they have the power to create places where people want to live and work

But not only that, but they also contribute to generating social cohesion, supporting and promoting growth in the most disadvantaged areas and, consequently, for the people who need it most. 

How? Through their ability to improve urban areas, as well as quality of life and jobs. 

Cities to watch

Today, more than 80% of the world’s economy is generated in cities. Culture and creativity are two very important assets for local communities, as together they form one of the fastest growing sectors, both in terms of income generation and job creation.

Emerging trend-setting cities

In an increasingly fast-paced world, there are some emerging cities that have made a strong commitment to development with a creative lens and cultural focus. Below we highlight a few of them: From Cleveland to thriving Hangzhou, don’t miss this tour of trend-setting cities: 

  • St. Petersburg, Florida. Also known as St Pete, this Florida city boasts an average of 361 days of sunshine a year. Following in the footsteps of Miami, a place of refuge for those seeking to escape the use of facemasks during the pandemic, interest in this destination also rose, contributing to its strong entrance on the world’s creative scene. 
  • Cleveland, Ohio. Inspired by prominent creative centers, such as Detroit, the traditionally industrial city of Cleveland has also become a destination to be reckoned with on the cultural scene. 
  • Salvador, Brazil. Salvador da Bahia is the city with the largest community of African descent in the world outside of Africa. Bearing this fact in mind, it’s not surprising that the traditions of the continent are still preserved and recreated in this sunny Brazilian destination.

Cities to watch

  • Novi Sad, Serbia. Seemingly known to few, this city became Serbia’s first European Capital of Culture. It offers a multicultural setting where communities of Hungarians, Slovaks, Croats, Gypsies and Montenegrins live side by side and has emerged as a center for creativity, particularly music.

Cities to watch

  • Manchester, United Kingdom. Historically known as an industrial and textile powerhouse, this English city is now one of the most important centers for culture, food and commerce.
  • Nairobi, Kenya. Beyond its proximity to the beautiful African national parks, this bustling city has become the mirror into which the rest of the continent’s cities look. An example of this is the creative momentum it is experiencing.

Cities to watch

  • Chiang Mai, Thailand. Recognized by UNESCO as a creative city, Chiang Mai has become the benchmark in the north of the country, setting the example as a creative center with a thriving local contemporary art scene.
  • Hangzhou, China. Considered the country’s version of Silicon Valley, future and tradition come together in the city in an almost perfect blend that, boosted by its geographical advantages, positions it as one of the most prosperous international business centers. 

Cities to watch

  • Goa, India. Located on the western coastal strip of India, Goa is unique for its fusion of Portuguese and Indian culture, visible through its ubiquitous local cuisine and architecture.

This global overview demonstrates that now is the time to allow the transformative power of culture and creativity to influence us in terms of thinking about where we will live. 

Workers in the creative sector will undoubtedly play a very important part in this transformative process, in which design will have a tremendously important role too. So it’s a great time to ask yourself: How do you imagine the city of the future?

We’re not sure exactly what your dream city will be like, but we’re very sure that in Freepik you will find the best resources to shape it. Are you ready to start?