Lonely Planet Writer

Unesco adds 47 cities to Creative Cities Network

Unesco Director-General, Irina Bokova has announced the addition of 47 cities across 33 countries to the Unesco Creative Cities Network.

Festival-goers enjoying WomAdelaide in Adelaide.
Festival-goers enjoying Womadelaide in Adelaide. Image by Mike Seyfang / CC BY 2.0

Each year the honour is bestowed on cities achieving excellence in one of seven artistic fields: Crafts & Folk Art, Design, Film, Gastronomy, Literature, Music and Media Arts.

Among those who made the cut this year were Adelaide, South Australia (Music); Al-Ahsa, Saudi Arabia (Crafts & Folk Art); Bergen, Norway (Gastronomy); Detroit, United States of America (Design); Liverpool, England (Music); Ljubljana, Slovenia (Literature); Lubumbashi, Democratic Republic of the Congo (Crafts & Folk Art); Santos, Brazil (Film); Singapore (Design); and Varanasi, India (Music).

Of the 47 cities achieving recognition this year, 22 are in countries not previously represented in the network. Ms Bokova congratulated the newest members in her announcement in Paris on Friday: “The Unesco Creative Cities Network represents an immense potential to assert the role of culture as enabler of sustainable development. I would like to recognize the many new cities and their countries that are enriching the network with their diversity.”

Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Hall.
Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Hall. Image by Ben Holliday / CC BY 2.0

The road to Unesco recognition is often a long one, involving significant community and government investment in the arts. As such, the announcement of the newest Creative Cities was met with much joy and pride in the recognised cities. South Australian Arts Minister Jack Snelling was thrilled with Adelaide’s inclusion as a City of Music, acknowledging it was a great honour. The city’s dynamic music scene includes some 950 live performances each month, as well as huge music festivals staged annually, including world-renowned Womadelaide, which draws thousands of visitors to the city each year.

Liverpool mayor Joe Anderson was likewise proud of his city’s inclusion as a City of Music, telling BBC News, “Liverpool is renowned for its musical influence and this status is the ultimate, and appropriate, accolade for a city which lives and breathes music.” The judges agreed, calling Liverpool a ‘haven of music’, citing festivals such as the International Music Festival, Sound City and Psych Fest events, as well as acknowledging the importance of the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra and dance music institution Creamfields to the city’s musical tapestry.

Singapore's Marina Bay.
Singapore’s Marina Bay. Image by Leonid Yaitskiy / CC BY-SA 2.0

Singapore was one of two ASEAN cities to receive the nod this year, joining the 16 existing member Cities of Design. Dr Yaacob Ibrahim, Minister for Communications and Information, was honoured by the city’s inclusion: “We are glad to receive this affirmation from Unesco and I am delighted to share this joyous news with all Singaporeans. As a Unesco Creative City of Design, Singapore will continue to use design to improve the lives of Singaporeans and make Singapore a more livable and lovable city.”

The Unesco Creative Cities Network was launched in 2004 and now comprises some 116 member cities.