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What makes a European Capital of Culture?
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What makes a European Capital of Culture?

Discover Limerick's journey towards European Capital of Culture status in 2020, exploring culture's transformative role and its impact on the city's future.

Callum Lee

Managing Director

Callum leads the BOP team, its portfolio and strategic partnerships. His cultural and creative industries expertise is grounded in his work for major clients in the UK, Europe and Middle East.

Callum Lee - Managing Director  | BOP

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Limerick Arts Office


Projects Sectors

This week, our partners in Limerick will find out whether they have been successful in gaining the status of European Capital of Culture (ECoC) in 2020. We were fortunate to work with them to develop a cultural strategy framework to support their bid.

National City for Culture in 2014, there is a real appetite from local people for culture and its role in future of the city. Of course, there are exciting plans for developing culture and growing the creative industries in the city. But more than this, this is a great opportunity to re-examine and re-imagine what kind of place it is, to the different people who both live there and visit.

Their early concept of multiplicity got to the heart of examining what Limerick in 2016 is about. It looked at the city as an interconnected place; inclusive and generous. It responded to the fact that Limerick is in the eye of the beholder; it is different places to different people. Citizens are seen as “curators of their own lived experience, navigating the daily realities of life in a way which is both unique and familiar to them.”

These different realities and experiences are all connected to a sense of place and multiple ways of Belonging, their chosen term for Limerick 2020. This belonging of citizens could be to “their families, their real and virtual communities, their schools, university, and workplace, Limerick, Europe. And to find new ways of belonging and share that sense of belonging.”

The Limerick 2020 programme will explore this belonging in creative ways over the coming years, including using food and inter-cultural exchange of ideas, developing young filmmakers, as well as the international gathering of musicians, bands and choirs.

Culture as part of a new lifeblood

Limerick sees itself as being in a “rebuilding” stage for the future, with a growing population, many of whom are welcomed from across Europe and beyond. Culture is a part of the new lifeblood of Limerick, with people across the city now recognising it as a way to drive positive change. We worked with the bid partners to look at the roles that they would need to play to allow culture to play its full role in the change. We believe they are a helpful guide to any place or organisation thinking about what more it can do around culture, even in times of austerity:

  • Advocate: Consolidating and valuing the role of culture in Limerick in a local, national and European context

  • Broker: Connecting people, organisations and opportunities through culture

  • Innovator: Successfully developing new ways of working, new business opportunities and supporting growth

  • Supporter: Continuing to create sustainable support, resources and investment in the cultural sector

  • Promoter: Finding new and interesting ways to showcase, host or promote culture in Limerick, identifying exciting ways for Limerick’s city, towns and villages to “be the venue”

  • Reflector: Reviewing, monitoring, analysing and critiquing the cultural strategy

It was great for us to be a small part of the development process for Limerick 2020 and its Belonging programme. The whole process has been a galvanising one for the city from the start. Regardless of whether Limerick gains the status of ECoC, the city has a plan and ambition around culture. They are looking outwards and connecting with Europe and beyond; they are re-imagining and building the city with culture at its heart.

We cross our fingers for our friends in Ireland to gain this exciting opportunity to renew their place in Europe, whilst reflect on how the UK will probably not have the same opportunity again.

You can download the full strategy framework below.

– Gregg Hutchings, Senior Consultant

European Capital of Culture

This Cultural Strategy Framework 2016-2030 for Limerick City and County Council sets out a clear vision and ambition that allows us to strategically plan effectively​ and look to the future.

Project Report

Limerick Cultural Strategy – A Framework 2016-2030

The report outlines the findings from a major study into the international activity of the Arts Council England-supported cultural ecosystem.

International Activity Report

Arts Council England

BOP Consulting was appointed to outline a pilot for a Creative Worker Income Guarantee for Brighton & Hove, working on behalf of the University of Sussex and the ABCD Cultural Recovery Programme. 

Cultural, Creative and Collective Recovery: Exploring a Creative Worker Income Guarantee

University of Sussex

The report on how global cities tackle climate change with cultural policies and programmes. Insights from the World Cities Culture Forum's latest report.

The Green World Cities of Tomorrow: Culture and Sustainability – Special Report Prepared for WCCF Global Conversation

World Cities Culture Forum (WCCF)

Unique case guide is co-produced with the participating cities of WCCF, highlighting city examples and a global cities approach to evidenced-based policymaking.

Culture Counts: New Approaches to Evidence Based Cultural Policymaking in World Cities

World Cities Culture Forum (WCCF)

Working alongside CRAIC, a new research and collaboration centre at Loughborough University, we conducted an extensive survey of virtual production assets throughout the United Kingdom to map the country’s growing ecosystem.

Mapping the UK's Virtual Production Ecosystem

Loughborough University

The World Cities Culture Report (WCCR) 2022 builds on the ground-breaking 2018 and 2015 Reports. It gives insights on the major challenges world cities facing.

World Cities Culture Report 2022

World Cities Culture Forum (WCCF)

BOP's contribution to the 2nd edition of the report UNESCO's Global Creativity Report, examining policies safeguarding the creative and cultural sectors.

UNESCO's Re|Shaping Policies for Creativity Report – Addressing culture as a global public good


Our strategy will guide the creation of a new digital service aiming at supporting and developing the creative scene in Downtown Kingston.

Leveraging the creative potential of Downtown Kingston through technology

Inter-American Development Bank - IDB

Our research into the UK's high streets found that 69% of people think culture on their high street makes their area a better place to live.

Culture: The cornerstone of the UK’s high streets

Arts Council England

BOP’s updated Handbook for the Inter-American Development Bank sets out strategies for sustainability and urban resilience

Creative and Cultural Industries and Urban Revitalisation in the post-COVID era

Inter-American Development Bank - IDB

We investigated the potential impact of AI for European cultural and creative businesses. Explore the transformative opportunities AI brings to industries.

Opportunities and Challenges of AI for the Cultural and Creative Industries

European Commission

Published today: ‘Design for Good: 90 Years of the RSA Student Design Awards’, a new publication from the RSA, co-authored by BOP

A History of Bright Ideas: 90 Years of the RSA Student Design Awards

The Royal Society for Arts (RSA)

Research in the Gulf Co-operation Council States in collaboration with British Council and BOP Consulting helps identify opportunities for festival development.

An evidence-base for the growing Gulf festivals sector

British Council

Our research into the museum workforce is launched, emphasizing the importance of conscientiousness and advocating for a diverse and well-supported sector.

Conscientiousness, optimism, and curiosity

Museums Galleries Scotland

BOP’s report on creating a healthy night-time economy for the Nanjing City Government demonstrates the importance of cross-cutting policies.

Creating Healthy Night-time Economies in World Cities

Nanjing Creative Center

Findings from our work at Great Ormond Street Hospital reveals how visual arts enhance the patient, visitor, and staff experience.

Creativity in health settings


How is China influencing the future of Cultural Tourism? China's cultural infrastructure projects are redefining the global tourism landscape.

Cultural Infrastructure for the 21st Century

Chengdu Media Group

Our new report for UNESCO sets out the huge global impact of COVID-19 on the cultural sector. We estimate $750 billion lost for the CCI and 10 million job cuts.

Economic impact of COVID-19 on the Cultural and Creative Industries


Our analysis of the strengths and challenges of music in the Midlands report published for Arts Council England.

Hitting the right notes in the Midlands

Arts Council England

New handbook 'Making Space for Culture' explores how world cities address the challenge of preserving cultural infrastructure while promoting growth.

How can cities make space for culture?

World Cities Culture Forum (WCCF)

Related Projects

Strategy and Policy Design

Callum Lee - Managing Director  | BOP

Callum Lee

Managing Director

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