Monday, May 21, 2018

Austin joins global cities for Leadership Exchange Program addressing urban affordability for the creative sector

AUSTIN, TX—May 21, 2018—This June, representatives from the City of Austin’s Economic Development Department will join cultural leaders from around the world to explore and address global challenges facing creative communities. Funded by an award from Bloomberg Philanthropies and Google Arts & Culture, staffers from Austin’s Cultural Arts and Global Business Divisions will participate in the first-ever Leadership Exchange Program, an initiative of the World Cities Culture Forum (WCCF) of which Austin is a member. Hosted in Toronto and led by the non-profit creative placemaking organization Artscape, the Exchange will bring together thought leaders from Austin, Amsterdam, London, New York, San Francisco, Sydney and Warsaw. The cities will explore urban affordability for the creative sector and establish global best practices for retaining and growing affordable creative spaces.

“The City of Austin recognizes the affordability crisis facing our citizens, including those in our creative community, and has identified this issue as a key priority,” said Meghan Wells, Manager of Austin’s Cultural Arts Division. “Participation in the Leadership Exchange Program will enable us to address this challenge with an eye toward what is working in other cities and develop creative solutions to add to our strategies and resources.”

Kate Levin, Chair of the Leadership Exchange Jury and program lead for Bloomberg Philanthropies Arts, added, “By creating the opportunity for cities to learn firsthand about the activities and approaches of their peers, the Leadership Exchange Program will advance the unique capacity of the creative sector in addressing civic issues.”

Cities are laboratories for the development of creative solutions. As Mayors around the world invest in cultural projects ranging from cultural facilities and arts programming, to affordable workspace, tourism, engagement and sustainability, the Leadership Exchange Program is an unparalleled opportunity to bring cities together for peer-to-peer learning. Members of WCCF are united in the belief that culture plays a critical role in addressing challenges facing creative communities, and the Leadership Exchange Program will be a catalyst for positive change globally.

City of Austin Cultural Arts Division
The Cultural Arts Division of the Economic Development Department provides leadership and management for the City’s cultural arts programs and for the development of arts and cultural industries. The Cultural Arts Division is responsible for the Cultural Arts Funding Programs, Art in Public Places Program, community-based arts development, and programs to assist the development of film and creative industries in Austin.

About World Cities Culture Forum
The World Cities Culture Forum is a leading collaborative network of 35 world cities who believe culture is the golden threat for urban policy. It brings together city leaders to share, debate and inspire each other. The Forum publishes the world’s most comprehensive data on culture and cities, carries our research on new policy trends and convenes themed symposia, regional summits and workshops including an annual World Cities Culture Summit hosted on a rotating basis by member cities. In 2018, the Summit will be held in San Francisco. The World Cities Culture Forum is an initiative of the Mayor of London, organized and coordinated by BOP Consulting. For more information about the forum and the summit, visit

About Bloomberg Philanthropies
Bloomberg Philanthropies works in over 120 countries around the world to ensure better, longer lives for the greatest number of people. The organization focuses on five key areas for creating lasting change: Arts, Education, Environment, Government Innovation, and Public Health. Bloomberg Philanthropies encompasses all of Michael R. Bloomberg’s charitable activities, including his foundation and his personal giving. In 2017, Bloomberg Philanthropies distributed $702 million. For more information, please visit
About Google Arts & Culture
Google Arts & Culture is an innovation partner for cultural institutions. The team provides technologies that help preserve and share culture and allow curators to create engaging exhibitions online and offline, in museums. The Google Arts & Culture app is free and available on the web, on iOS and Android, allowing users to explore exhibitions from over a thousand museums.

Art, Art, and more Art


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