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50 Mayors of UNESCO Creative Cities gather in Santos, Brazil to share creative social initiatives

Creative Cities Brasilia

Santos, Brazil, a UNESCO Creative City of Film, has been boosting local and regional development through its cultural and creative sectors. Its successful policies and initiatives will be shared with cities from across the globe as it hosts the XIV Annual Conference of the UNESCO Creative Cities Network (UCCN) from 18 to 22 July 2022. This year’s theme, “Creativity, Path to Equality”, will see cities exchanging on how culture and creativity enhance social inclusion and equal opportunities, especially following the deepening inequalities exacerbated by COVID-19.

In spite of the restrictions imposed by the pandemic, Santos’ strategies, established under the Santos Criativa programme and the Economic Innovation Office, kept the local creative economy growing. In 2019, the city registered 13,642 culture initiatives and in 2021, the number rose to 17,812, up 30.5%. If measured by the 2013 index (6,931), growth reached 156%. Though a Creative City of Film, the numerous public policies supported diverse creative activities that impact both economic growth and social integration, which Santos has been particularly intent on addressing.

Using culture and creativity as main drivers for urban regeneration, Santos established 10 Creative Villages in its most vulnerable neighborhoods to offer professional training and cultural activities that strengthen the social, civil and political capacities of disadvantaged groups. In 2021, more than 3,200 students attended qualification courses in Creative Villages in areas such as gastronomy, fashion and beauty, audio-visual, sales and technology. This year, several hundred positions have already been offered to students. As professional training continues, communities are also benefitting from free cultural, sports and recreational activities. The urban regeneration strategy also supported construction of a major new conference center in a disadvantaged neighborhood which features facades painted by renowned street artist Eduardo Kobra and which will host the UCCN Conference.

Over 300 participants from 50 countries, including 50 mayors, along with representatives of 100 Creative Cities, will be in Santos. They will share these and other best practices for greater participation in cultural life and discuss today's most pressing challenges at the intersection of urban sustainable development, equality and social cohesion.

This unique and dynamic network of cities is a powerful platform to share innovative initiatives. In our increasingly urbanized world, member cities are successfully applying culture and creativity to improve the everyday lives of their citizens
Ernesto Ottone R. UNESCO Assistant Director-General for Culture

“Santos is proud of our dynamic, creative citizens, who have a lot to share with the world during the UCCN Conference. We are preparing a great event and we invite all the member cities to join us for this rich opportunity to exchange and experience culture and innovation", says Mayor Rogério Santos.

This is the first time the Annual UCCN Conference is held in the Latin America region. Launched in 2004, the UNESCO Creative Cities Network comprises almost 300 member cities from around 90 countries focusing on seven creative fields: crafts and folk art, design, film, gastronomy, literature, media arts, and music.