Europe is watching Chemnitz’s cultural strategy

»The world has changed, and culture is all around us – in education, infrastructure and in preventative healthcare as well«, said Susanna Tommila, recommending that the city of Chemnitz include these factors in preparing its cultural strategy for the years 2018 to 2030.

Tommila visited Chemnitz from 19 to 21 April, joining with four other international experts to acquire an initial impression of the city and current developments in the area of culture, and to use this information as a basis for recommendations for future focus topics.

Like the other experts, Tommila has a strong background in cultural development. She is director of culture in the City of Espoo in Finland and also deputy chair of the culture forum in the European city network EUROCITIES.

Tommila was joined in Chemnitz by Val Birchall, assistant director of culture & visitor economy in the city of Birmingham (England), Péter Inkei from the Budapest Observatory (Hungary) and Nils Scheffler, expert for integrated city development from Berlin, as the other members of the expert team.

Their job was to provide coaching on behalf of the European Commission as part of the »Culture for Cities and Regions« programme.

Over the three days of coaching, Tommila and the expert team sifted through the information on the ongoing process for developing a cultural strategy that will be presented to the city council in 2018. They also assessed the associated civic participation process, as well as Chemnitz’s bid for the title of European Cultural Capital 2025.

In addition, they highlighted other topics like city marketing, tourism, urban development and the City of the Future Initiative, which are closely related to developing the cultural strategy. For this purpose, the team conducted interviews with all stakeholders from the worlds of culture and politics to acquire a better impression of ongoing developments in Chemnitz.

Among other things, the team visited cultural facilities like the experimental theatre Komplex and the Lokomov with the associated off-space gallery Hinten am Sonnenberg, the mills in Altchemnitz and the Gunzenhauser Museum, meeting the movers and shakers behind them.

The experts also attended a dinner with representatives of the Chemnitz cultural scene, where they were able to gain an impression of their work and projects. Lord Mayor Barbara Ludwig also welcomed the guests for a meeting.

The experts submitted initial proposals for the city of Chemnitz on the last day of their stay, which they will flesh out over the coming weeks. Soon the city of Chemnitz will receive a comprehensive report containing recommendations on how it can improve the process of developing a municipal culture strategy, for instance through the inclusion of additional cultural stakeholders.

The coaches concur unanimously that throughout the development process, the city should be guided by the simple maxim that »Everything is possible«. The city of Chemnitz applied for coaching and was selected by a jury as one of the ten European cities to receive this special support.

Besides Chemnitz, the expert team have already visited Bratislava (Slovakia), Angers (France) and Kaunas (Lithuania), which was recently selected as European Cultural Capital for 2022.