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Ulyanovsk took part in the UNESCO Creative Cities Conference. Review of the best world practices

Ulyanovsk took part in the annual UNESCO Creative Cities Conference, which this time took place online. The conference, organized by UNESCO and the Brazilian city of Santos, was held on July 6-7 and was dedicated to the revival of sustainable urban life during the pandemic crisis. The event brought together more than 176 creative cities, 13 mayors from 62 countries and provided an opportunity to exchange the best restorative practices in the field of culture, art and creativity. During the pandemic, UNESCO Creative Cities demonstrated non-standard solutions: Ulyanovsk brought literature out of closed spaces by organizing an International Literary Ice Rink; the Americans arranged online readings of Tolstoy and Dostoevsky; the Japanese draw attention to cultural values ​​with the help of an avatar; 11,000 New Zealanders have donated funds to help local artists; Istanbul has turned the city into one big open stage; Australians are reviving historic streets with installations and light. In this overview, we bring you the best anti-crisis practices that helped save the culture and art of UNESCO Creative Cities during the pandemic. Perhaps you would like to join one of the international projects or get inspired to develop your own ideas.

фото Дениз Бакс

During the opening of the Conference, Ms. Denise Bax, Secretary of the UNESCO Creative Cities Network, welcomed the participants and stressed the importance of culture as a driving force in the fight against the covid crisis.

фото Эрнесто Ренато Оттоне Рамирес

Ernesto Renato Ottone Ramirez, UNESCO Assistant Director-General for Culture, stressed that culture has the power to sustain, transform cities and strengthen local communities. The pandemic has once again highlighted the crucial role of culture in achieving stability and collective well-being. Ottone noted the great potential of culture and creativity in providing social, economic and environmental benefits for cities.

During the event, the mayors of UNESCO Creative Cities spoke about the initiatives implemented to support the culture and creativity sectors during the pandemic.

фото Рожерио Сантос

Thus, the mayor of Santos, Rogerio Santos, stressed the importance of investing in the creative economy. During the pandemic, the city used technology and culture to keep people alive. To support the mental and physical well-being of the people of Santos, cultural events, online creative economy fairs, and a digital "Culture Factory" were organized online to support the creative people of the city.

фото Ада Колау

Barcelona Mayor Ada Colau said the pandemic had exposed pre-existing systemic problems in the current economic model: growing injustice and inequality. To deal with them, it is important to rely on culture, as it has proven to be a pillar of democracy and access to it a fundamental human right. Barcelona recently introduced the Cultural Rights Plan to guarantee access to culture for everyone, especially the most vulnerable.

фото Дьедонне Банцимба

Dieudonne Bantsimba, Mayor of Brazzaville, Republic of the Congo, described how the city has engaged its music artists to launch campaigns to raise awareness of the response to the pandemic.

фото Чжэн Цзяньсинь

Zheng Jianxin, Mayor of Changsha, China, talked about how the city has deeply integrated media art and traditional art, which contributes to the development of new creative industries, as well as attracting young talents.

фото Фатма Шахин

The mayor of the Turkish city of Gaziantep, Fatma Şahin, introduced the "Safe School Program", which allowed children from rural areas with unreliable internet connections to attend school online.

фото Валери Плант

Montreal Mayor Valerie Plant noted the involvement of local designers in adapting public infrastructure to the new conditions so that residents can continue to use them.

фото Вирджиния Раджи

Rome Mayor Virginia Raggi said that during the pandemic, the city has provided access to its iconic monuments through websites and social media with commentary by art historians, and hosted free online concerts and programs.

фото Дауд Абдулрахман Аль Хаджири

Daoud Abdulrahman Al Hajiri, Mayor of Dubai Municipality, highlighted the city's recently adopted Creative Economy Strategy, which aims to promote creativity to build sustainable cities.

The cultural and creative sectors have been severely affected during the pandemic: cultural events, festivals, music and art performances have been canceled or postponed, museums, theatres, cinemas and libraries have been temporarily closed. This has greatly jeopardized people's access to culture, as well as affecting the livelihoods of artists, with repercussions throughout the creative economy. In this environment, UNESCO Creative Cities have demonstrated their ingenuity and ability to adapt through innovative measures, the development of digital tools and the use of new IT solutions.


One of the projects of the directorate of the Ulyanovsk – UNESCO City of Literature program, which brings literature out of closed spaces during the pandemic, was the International Literary Ice Rink, which was launched in January 2021 on the Cathedral Square of the city. On the main square, poems by poets from Ulyanovsk and 13 UNESCO literary cities were performed in their native languages ​​by the authors themselves, including the authors of world bestsellers. Then the voices of poets from different countries could be heard at the skating rinks in the Zavolzhsky and Zheleznodorozhny districts of the city. Ernesto Renato Ottone Ramírez, UNESCO Deputy Director-General for Culture, praised the Ulyanovsk project in his official letter: other UNESCO Creative Cities. I express my sincere appreciation to the city for the stable institutional commitment to integrating culture and creativity into the city's development plan.

Международный литературный каток

The next international campaign of Ulyanovsk "Literary Tram 2021" was also devoted to the theme of the pandemic, bringing together about 30 texts from 12 UNESCO cities of literature.

In general, during the pandemic period (2020-2021), Ulyanovsk authors took part online in many international events: Virtual Writers' Residence in Nanjing, International Book Day, Nanjing Reading Festival, Slamovision, Poetry Bus project (Tartu), World Poetry Day, International Literacy Day, International Anthology “You Will Remain”, international literary project “The Possibilities” (Dunedin, New Zealand), Nanjing Book Fair, international literary festivals in Leiria and Odessa, Modern International Multilingual project Library Museum in the city of Slemani (Iraq), "Literature without borders", etc. In addition, the books of the authors of Ulyanovsk were included in the online exposition of the Poetry Library that opened in Manchester. Comics by Ulyanovsk artists will be part of the exhibition of the International Exhibition of Comics on the theme "The City after the Pandemic" at the famous Angouleme Comics Festival in France.

Ulyanovsk also organized the International Online Exhibition "The City as a Workplace for Writers", which brought together 100 photographs from authors and artists from different cities of the world.


Выставка "Город как рабочее место писателя"

В период пандемии литературные мероприятия города ушли в онлайн-формат: например, литературный фестиваль «Амфибрахий 2020» с участием известных местных и российских авторов проходил в онлайн-трансляции и собрал тысячи просмотров.

В гибридный формат была трансформирована Международная детская писательская резиденция-2020 в Ульяновске, на участие в которой пришло 100 заявок от авторов 11-16 лет из 24 регионов России и трех стран. В онлайн и офлайн-работе приняли участие по 20 молодых авторов и их кураторов-библиотекарей.

В 2020 году Ульяновск присоединился к международной видеоинсталляции в Кванджу (городе медиаискусства ЮНЕСКО в Южной Корее),  посвященной проектам, отражающим процесс трансформации культуры в эпоху пандемии,

В 2021 году в День поэзии – 21 марта –  Ульяновск провели необычную акцию «Стихи по почте». Ее участниками стали жители 23 городов России и 11 стран мира. В этот день стихи по почте на русском, английском или немецком языке  были отправлены тем, кто заранее оставил сообщение в специальной форме. Чтобы привлечь внимание читателей к произведениям местных авторов, была организована акция «Книга недели». Работники библиотек Ульяновска провели флешмоб «Оставайся дома и читай». Это лишь часть мероприятий литературного сектора Ульяновска, прошедших в непростые для культуры 2020-2021 годы.


Афиша акции Синхронность 2020

The Japanese city of Sapporo has unveiled the "SYNCHRONICITY2020" initiative, which aims to develop immersive outdoor technology by synchronizing music and virtual reality. It is implemented by an avatar named Hatsune Miku on the smartphones of local residents. Thanks to this technology project, the city was able to gather citizens to highlight cultural values through new technologies while respecting sanitary measures. Read more


With the onset of the pandemic, the Italian city of Carrara has launched a special initiative to offer artists and artisans the opportunity to act as a cultural and social driver of the community and contribute to raising the value of local heritage. Read more


В Белу-Оризонти (Бразилия) провели хакатон креативной экономики, направленный на привлечение молодых предпринимателей, которые вместе разрабатывали решения для борьбы с последствиями пандемии в нескольких творческих областях: модная мебель и дизайн, гастрономия и ремесла. Read more


In the city of Sharjah (UAE) organized virtual exhibitions in support of artistsRead more


In Potsdam, the Thirty Days of Cinema project was implemented, which allowed people to watch films for freeRead more


During the pandemic, the City of Bristol launched the #shortitout collective film initiative. Filmmakers from around the world were invited to respond creatively to the global lockdown with a featurette about their experiences of lockdown. Read more


АФиша инициативы Музыкальная помощь

The New Zealand city of Auckland has unveiled the MusicHelps initiative to help local artists and musicians during the pandemic. By sending a text message with the word "MUSIC", citizens could make a $3 donation, which made it possible to distribute micro-grants to approximately 500 artists in need. More than 11,000 donors participated in the campaign, which also helped support 18 institutions. Read more


Quebec spoke about a cultural program involving artists, writers, publishers, cultural organizations and the Poetry on the Rooftops project.

San Antonio

АФиша акции "Местная кухня"

The US city of San Antonio launched the #Eatlocal campaign, which promoted local restaurant initiatives to help overcome the challenges caused by the pandemic. The municipality has set the #Eatlocal hashtag and used social media and websites to further promote these initiatives. The campaign allowed restaurants to discover new business models, stimulating the development of creative directions. Read more


Скриншот проекта общественного чтения

Iowa, the UNESCO City of Literature in the United States, presented a public reading project that was born during the pandemic. The project has resulted in an international community of nearly 1,000 people from five continents. During the initiative, such works as "The Decameron", "War and Peace" were read, next in line - "The Brothers Karamazov". Read more


Проект "Послания надежды"

The Danish city of Viborg has launched the #Draw Hope campaign to encourage children to draw messages of hope to their peers affected by the pandemic. The project collected over 400 drawings from around the world, which were projected onto the façade of the National Gallery in Copenhagen. Read more


During the pandemic, Istanbul opened the project "Istanbul is a stage" by organizing cultural events with online broadcast. In addition, the events were broadcast in open spaces where residents could park their cars, watch films and performances, while observing sanitary measures. Read more


Singapore has launched a Design Research program to empower local designers. The program has also created a knowledge and exchange platform to promote collaboration among designers during the pandemic. Read more


Melbourne presented the Creative Laneways project, which aims to revitalize 40 of the city's historic streets through the work of 80 artists using music, lighting and creative installations. Read more


Macau launched Macao Ready Go, a free e-platform that provided coupons to locals to incentivize purchases of local products. Read more

Recovery of urban tourism

The final part of the online conference was devoted to the restoration of urban tourism. As one of the sectors hardest hit by the pandemic, the travel and tourism landscape, especially in cities, has changed dramatically. The participants of the Conference discussed how tourism can be activated with the help of culture and creativity.

Recognizing the critical role of collaboration and peer learning in times of crisis, the UNESCO Creative Cities Network, together with its 246 member cities from over 80 countries, has taken steps to further strengthen collaboration and encourage the exchange of experiences on practices in response to COVID-19.

Recall that Ulyanovsk received the status of a UNESCO City of Literature in 2015. Today the Network includes 39 literary cities of the world.