As cities around the world converge, becoming gradually more similar to one another in sight, it becomes increasingly important to examine the factors contributing to the development of a city’s competitive edge and increasing its attractiveness in the eyes of its inhabitants and visitors alike. Students of cultural studies unanimously position culture among the high ranks of such catalysts, highlighting with their academic and professional devotion the immaterial potential ingrained in experiencing culture.
Leuven is a city with a strong international footprint that oftentimes extends to its cultural sector. The city’s creative field holds vast potential not only as a unique melting pot of diverse and creative productions, but also as a tool of aggregate unification and integration.
The city’s aim to candidate as European Capital of Culture (ECOC) in 2030 is an inspiring proposal that allowed a team of students from the Master of Cultural Studies to participate firsthand in the preparation of a project of such a scale – incorporating not only the needs of the various communities of Leuven but also their changing preferences over time.
In cooperation with the “Stad Leuven”, a research project was initiated focusing on a more exhaustive overview of the preferences of the international community residing in Leuven. This approach allowed to take into account the comments and proposals of the cultural stakeholders, the residents themselves and their own views upon best strategies of increasing one’s integration in the cultural scene.
The concluding aim was raising awareness for Leuven’s candidacy for the title of ECOC in 2030 in order to popularize this initiative among the city’s residents.
The students, internationals themselves, took this project as an opportunity to examine the very backstage of a city with a strong cultural identity and to become acquainted with the infrastructure of developing and implementing cultural projects of such a scale. The final results will be presented to Leuven’s arts advisory board at the next possible date in April and may potentially serve not only as a strong catalyst for audience development for 2030 but also as an opportunity to review the well-being of the international community in Leuven today.
Paraskevi Malisioti, Megija Milberga, Anna Puhr