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Weaving the Golden Thread into the 2020s

A cause for optimism
20.12.2019

At the turn of a tumultuous decade, BOP Founder and Director, Paul Owens, says that the increasing integration of culture and creativity into a range of development agendas is a cause for optimism in the 2020s.

Halfway through the last decade BOP coined the phrase ‘Culture is the golden thread of urban policy’. Our projection for the next decade is that culture and creativity will be the golden thread of all forms of sustainable development and business practice.

A few examples from BOP’s current and future roster illustrate this perfectly:

Cities and Urban Development. See the golden thread at work in the World City Culture Forum’s (WCCF) Culture and Climate Change Handbook, launched during London’s Climate Action Week in July 2019. Our client the Greater London Authority reached a landmark moment with publication of the city’s first ‘Cultural Infrastructure Plan’ designed to ‘hardwire’ culture into the future growth of the capital. Many other global cities will produce similar plans. A key recommendation of the UK Cultural Cities enquiry was adopted with the launch of ‘Cultural Compacts’ in a number of cities across the country, including Wakefield, advised by BOP.

Tourism and Destinations. Our report ‘Cultural Tourism in a Global Economy: The Search for Local Authenticity’ launched in the historic ‘cultural town’ of Anren in China’s Sichuan province shows how culture is driving global tourism across the globe – and how China’s investment in cultural infrastructure will have ripple effect way beyond its borders. Through a series of projects with Failte Ireland and other organisations, in the meantime, we are working to re-invigorate and promote Ireland’s cultural tourism offer.

Soft Power and Diplomacy. We are working with cities – including Manchester and Chengdu – to build culture into their wider plans for trade and exchange. Our work within WCCF and for clients such as the British Council and Goethe Institute is constant reminder of the role which cultural relations play in global affairs.

Immersive and Digital Content. Emotional authenticity and depth of experience drive innovation in digital content creation – not technology. These are the key insights from our work with on Innovate UK’s ‘Audience of the Future’ and the Arts and Humanities Research Council’s scoping of the potential of UK/China R&D collaboration.

Development and Inclusive Growth. We are proud to be working with the British Council as evaluation partners on the Developing Inclusive Creative Economies (DICE) initiative. Our report for Historic England ‘Conservation in a Development Context’ examined how heritage conservation can play a part in inclusive growth strategies. In 2020 we will be continuing our work with the Inter-American Development Bank to deliver pilot projects in three cities promoting culture and heritage as core component of urban regeneration.

We are privileged to be working with visionary clients and partners across the globe on these inspiring projects. Taken together they represent a generous, optimistic view of human potential, filling us here at BOP with great hope for the future.

BOP sends good cheer and best wishes to our friends, partners and clients and to all fellow optimists – for this festive season and for the coming decade.