It is increasingly being recognised that culture plays an important role in urban development. The well-being of cities relies on vibrant social and cultural lives of citizens. Surfacing the kinds of activities happening in neighbourhoods is vital to ensure the appropriate support and enabling environment are put in place.

From 26 to 28 February the African Centre for Cities along with the Arts and Culture Branch of the City of Cape Town and the National Department of Arts and Culture will host the second study trip in the SA-EU Dialogue on cultural mapping, planning and impact assessment for sustainable and just urban development. Cultural mapping and planning offer exciting and engaging way to rethink neighbourhood development and the implementation of the SDG’s through a cultural lens.

The dialogue is facilitated through two main activities. The first is a strategic study visit to connect with the two primary dialogue partners in the Europe which took place in November 2019. The study visit saw participants travel to Bilboa (Spain) and Gothenburg (Sweden) to explore the kinds of projects, partnerships and policies which have been instrumental in culture-based development that promotes sustainable and just cities.

The second study visit brings academics, practitioners and civil society together for a dialogue event in Cape Town for a three-day exchange.

On day one the delegation will spend time discussing cultural values and locating these within questions of urban development, share tactics and methods from their cities as well as explore the Grand Parade precinct on a walkabout led by local heritage practitioner Wendy Wilson focusing on intangible heritage. Cultural experts Molemo Moiloa and Nancy Duxbury will share insights from their research African and European contexts.

Day two sees the delegation convene at the flagship Du Noon Public Library which will host a discussion on the role of cultural mapping, planning and impact assessment using the context of Cape Town with presenters from the public and private sector before exploring the area with another guided walkabout. The trip’s programme concludes with a wrap-up session in Langa aimed at discussing action and implementation, and identifying opportunities for further research and collaboration.

“Exchanges of this nature, not only between countries but between public sector practitioners, scholars and civil society, highlight the critical, but often overlooked role of culture, in achieving sustainable and just cities,” says project lead Dr Rike Sitas. “By sharing and interrogating policy approaches and good practices we can move to implementing cultural planning and governance that can lead to more equal, just and flourishing cities.”

Based on the exchange the project will draw together learning and recommendations in a report that is set to be published later this year.

This dialogue, funded by the SA-EU Dialogue Facility has been initiated in partnership with the Urban Future Centre (Durban University of Technology), Wits City Institute (University of the Witwatersrand), Cities Lab Katedra (University of Deusto, Bilbao), School of Art History and Cultural Policy (University College Dublin), Urban Development Unit (Gothenburg Cultural Affairs Administration), UNESCO Creative Cities Network, Catalytic Sectors Office in the Mayor’s Office  and the Arts and Culture Branch (City of Cape Town), Department of Arts and Culture, National Government (South Africa), Mistra Urban Futures, (Gothenburg, Sweden), Chalmers University (Gothenburg, Sweden), City of Gothenburg (Sweden), City of Bilbao (Spain), Cultural Policy Observatory (Dublin and Belfast, Ireland) and Centre for Social Studies, Universidade de Coimbra (Coimbra, Portugal).


Please note: The study tour is a closed event for project participants only, but findings will be shared during and after the dialogue event. Please follow us on Twitter and Facebook for coverage of the dialogue.