Culture power: inspire to develop rural areas

Project Title
Culture power: inspire to develop rural areas
Priority 1 Thinking Growth: Supporting growth in North Sea Region economies
Lead Beneficiary
Tjörn Kommun
Contact Person First Name
Contact Person Last Name
Kroksdalsvägen 1
P.O. Box
Postal Code
471 80
Skärhamn, Tjörn
0046 304-60 19 83 (Marie Bergdahl); 0046 70 5144977 (Dirk Harmsen)
Central Aim

To examine, market & commercialize the value of culture and of cultural services as a mean to strengthen and (re-) vitalize rural communities. The project will analyse the growth potential of the cultural field and its ability to create new jobs and businesses, targeting the young generation and immigrants. The project will explore the job-shaping capacity of culture and in close cooperation with local businesses bring forward the hidden, unexploited assets of the cultural landscape.

Project Description

Culture - and for that matter even tourism and education - is rarely seen as a sector that generates new business opportunities or jobs. At municipal and regional level these ‘soft’ (and often female dominated) departments are not really considered as potential fields of growth. There is a weak connection to the more traditional (often male dominated) business development sector, within an administration as well as outside. This is not just a question of gender. Its assets are simply overseen and forgotten. Quite typical is for example that regional or local incubators or science parks are found in the medicine, energy, climate adaption or the automotive/transport sector, and that innovations tend to be of technological character, carried (out) by people with a natural science background. Social sciences are badly needed in processes of transition and behavioural changes, but missing. Even culture does not have a place in that context.

The process of shaping a vital community must include culture (and education & tourism): partly because it is an entrance to the world of the young generation (the future) and partly it is a way to get people enjoy of and stay, live and work in rural communities. A certain minimum level of services in rural settings is essential for the preservation of the village as a social entity, as a living culture. If the service disappears, if shops and schools close down, if work is not available a community stops living.

Two key elements are

  • The development of cultural incubators that form a bridge between creativity and economy, using amongst others the concept of ‘Kulturhus ‘ (cultural meeting place) as a platform for innovation.
  • The need of a strong local support. ‘Cultural Planning’ is a method that can be used to achieve a wide acceptance of the power of culture, guaranteeing that money and energy is made available for a longer term.

CUPIDO gathers experiences best practices with the regeneration of villages in order to create an own Kulturhus or similar platforms. In the case of Tjörn for example decisions need to be taken about design and construction that involve large investments. Each argument, each profound, well-defined example will help in finding ways to get it financed and to engage and incorporate local resources. Alternatives as crowd funding  (‘crowd stock market’) are seldom used in public settings.

Envisaged Output
  • A description of the functions, forms and the establishment of cultural incubators.
  • Blue prints of how to design sustainable cultural meeting places using passive house, energy efficiency principles.
  • An extensive stakeholder dialogue (community piloting) and toolboxes that includes questions like
    - how to engage local population in the process of joint design of a meeting place,
    - how to run the joint management of a cultural centre,
    - how to prepare the process of recruitment of new generations for future management and ownership and not the least
    - how to deal with the process of incorporation of regional (international) elements/organisations.
  • A network of international cultural exchange with an emphasis on youth-to-youth exchanges, with the opportunity to make space for local and regional cultural resources.
What is the need for this project?

The issue of culture, as a driving force for growth in particular in smaller, rural settings is under-estimated in the North Sea Region program. The focus is strongly on the (economic) creation of jobs and growth. The current program gives entrances for the theme of cultural development. Objective 1.3 Thinking Growth aims' to stimulate the public sector to generate innovation demand and innovative solutions for improving public service delivery.’ The need for innovation arises from requirements to maintain service levels against a background of shrinking budgets and in many cases, an increasing demand for services. CUPIDO's transnational cooperation is: ‘analyse the need for new products and services to address shared challenges such as the ageing population, movement to urban areas, the need for greater efficiency etc.’ 

Two more: ‘the Member States seek to achieve is to improve knowledge of how the public sector can innovate in service delivery’. Culture! And: ‘a number of different development pathways are possible including: the rejuvenation of traditional sectors through higher added value activities and identifying new market niches.’ 

The need for cultural projects is even more cemented in the overarching North Sea 2020. ’The further development and promotion of the (tourism and culture) sector will require a better understanding of cultures and histories in order to strengthen the NSR identity and profile the region.’ And ’ Joint development of tourism, culture and creative industries, with innovative products, services and common branding of the region will be needed to compete in the global market.’ One of the key action areas in the NSR 2020 is ’ Support the development of permanent networks for cultural actors’

Thematic Keywords
Growth and jobs
Innovative public service delivery
New products and services
Place-based approaches
Societal challenges
Stimulating innovation
Other Keywords
Cultural planning, culture incubator, Local engagement,
Partners Found Already

Interested members of the North Sea Commission’s working group ‘attractive and sustainable communities’ from Scotland, Denmark and Norway

Partners Searched

the Netherlands, Germany and/or Belgium

Estimated Budget

View all project ideas