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Reasons to be (cautiously) cheerful – Parts 1 to 6

Our founder reflects on the last 12 months

As 2018 draws to a close, the world seems like an increasingly fractured and unsettled place – especially if you live and work in the UK. Amidst the din and discord, BOP got on with the business of nurturing creativity and making better places! In the spirit of festive cheer, here are six things we’ve done this year, that inspire hope and optimism for the future:

1. The 2018 edition of the World Cities Culture Report, launched in November, demonstrates through many vivid examples that in response to global challenges, world cities are extending their cultural policies beyond central flagship projects to more participatory, citizen-centred activities across the city.

2. In a similar vein, our report for the Chengdu Government, ‘Pioneer Cities’, shows that this new spirit of open-ness extends to external relationships. Forward-looking cities are increasingly using culture to forge new city-to-city relationships to help address their challenges and foster innovation.

3. BOP’s work on the UK Cultural Cities Enquiry has thrown a spotlight on the countless ways in which artists, cultural organisations, grassroots arts groups and creative entrepreneurs contribute to the civic life our cities and communities. The Enquiry’s recommendations, to be released in February, will focus on how the good practice we’ve found can be extended to every corner of the UK.

4. With our partner AESOP, we launched Active Ingredients, a new planning and evaluation tool for arts and health projects. We hope this will be used to foster a whole new generation of initiatives. We have only just started to explore the full potential of this field.

5. In the Gulf region we’ve worked with an energetic and inspiring young team to design a new foundation, with a mission to promote international cultural collaboration and to increase the understanding of contemporary Islamic art across the world.

6. As proud supporters of the Achates Prize for first time sponsors of the arts, we were astonished at the quality and geographical spread of this year’s shortlist. And we were truly inspired by this year’s corporate winners: construction firm Laing O’Rourke for their sponsorship of the first ever International Arts and Homeless Summit and Festival, held in Manchester in November.

In 2018 it has been a privilege to support the leaders, businesses, artists, managers, investors and creative organisations who are quietly getting on with making a difference. We look forward to helping existing and new clients build on their achievements in the coming year. The world needs them more than ever before.

Happy holidays to all!

- Paul Owens, Founder and Director

Photo credit: Julienne Schaer/ NYC & Company