Coaching Kaunas for better cooperation between the city and its surrounding region
Early December a group of four Culture for Cities and Regions coaches, including peers from Birmingham and Lisbon, visited Kaunas to help the city deal with two main issues: improve cooperation between Kaunas City and Kaunas District; and valorise the modernist heritage of the city. Kaunas is Lithuania's second largest city and was the country’s capital between WW1 and WW2. It counts above 300,000 inhabitants, but has been losing part of its population in the last 10 years. Retaining and attracting population is a key challenge for the city.
The city is shortlisted to become European Capital of Culture in 2022. The current period therefore represents for Kaunas a unique opportunity to use creativity as a local driver for action and to develop a clear long term cultural vision. Kaunas is currently preparing a local cultural strategy that will put emphasis on:
- Improving the quality of cultural services
- Strengthening communities
- Developing the local cultural and creative industries and local infrastructures
- Cooperation between the city and the districts
Improved cooperation between local cultural institutional actors would lead to a better cultural offer, better communication on cultural activities and more efficient use of resources. It will also be a way to create a feeling of “one Kaunas”. Personal cooperation and networking between the various local cultural actors and individual administrative representatives from the district and the city will be key.
Concrete recommendations include:
- Demonstrate to politicians the positive effects (win-win) of cooperation examples that already take place; Involve politicians themselves in the city/district cooperation; Have a “champion” in each political party who supports cooperation of the city and the district and / or cultural activities.
- Arrange study visits with politicians/decision-makers to other European city-regions, where the cooperation works successfully, or invite European decision-makers to come and explain in Kaunas
- Use the ECoC bid to demonstrate that cooperation is beneficial
- Collect and present evidence for the impact of interventions as a whole and use data concerning participation, economic impact and sense of identity (for example) to inform the development of programmes