UNESCO Creative Cities representatives in Poland

A report by Mark Roach, Auckland UNESCO City of Music

Network XII Annual Meeting, Kraków and Katowice, Poland 12-16 June.

Kraków (City of Literature) and Katowice (City of Music) jointly hosted the 12th Annual Meeting of the Creative Cities Network which I attended, representing Auckland City of Music. The meeting was also attended by Nicky Page and Mayor Dave Cull from Dunedin City of Literature.

This was the first meeting that Auckland had attended after joining the network in the 2017 intake, and presented an opportunity to meet others from across the entire network of 180 cities, and specifically those from the 31 cities that comprise the music subnetwork.

The week began with an integration day for new cities on Monday 11th in Kraków, followed by an informal catch-up with fellow new music cities. The following day began with presentations and talks, after which we split off into subnetwork workshops.

Along with other new cities, I showcased Auckand’s rich music heritage to the rest of our subnetwork. We then discussed our respective city projects and explored ideas on how we might collaborate in the coming months and years. In a very short space of time, we brainstormed exciting inter-city project concepts and I made promising connections for New Zealand artists in other countries.

The value of being there in person was invaluable – friendships were formed and networks solidified by simple ability of being able to communicate one-on-one with like-minded individuals from around the world. Although interaction with the other creative subnetworks was limited, I also had the opportunity to raise project ideas with cities of Design and Literature that will be likewise explored in the near future.

Our subnetwork also agreed to form two workgroups to address the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals 2030, and specifically these workgroups will focus on gender equality and anti-racism. I am in the first workgroup along with colleagues from Adelaide, Hannover, Katowice, Kingston and Norköpping. I have lengthy experience in design for music clients and I’ve offered to apply this experience to assist the second workgroup. I have also offered my skills to help further develop our subnetwork website (citiesofmusic.net), which we hope will become a central forum for the cities’ news and ideas.

The UNESCO component of the conference wrapped up on Friday 15th, but the knowledge sharing continued with a supplementary event on Saturday 16th with an all-day schedule of panel discussions that was open to the public. I was asked to be a guest for this component, and joined speakers from Finland, America, Poland and Germany on the subject of ‘Digital Culture and Media in Cities’.

The conference presented a fantastic opportunity to learn, network and showcase. I’m excited about the potential that the UNESCO Creative Cities Network has for Auckland city, its citizens and its arts and culture sector, but also its wider scope to be beneficial to all New Zealanders and creatives from across the spectrum.