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Is Canberra the next UNESCO City of Design?

As part of its overall strategic planning, Craft ACT has a long term ambition to pursue listing of Canberra as a City of Design in the UNESCO Creative Cities Network.

The UNESCO City of Design accolade aims to promote the development of local creative industries, and to foster relationships and resource-sharing between fellow Cities of Design, including Montreal, Buenos Aires, Bilbao, Helsinki, Singapore and Beijing, among others. Cities in the network work together to place creativity and cultural industries at the heart of their development plans and collaborate internationally.

City of Design status is awarded as part of the Creative Cities Network established by UNESCO in 2004, which also recognises contributions to literature, art, music, film and gastronomy. The UNESCO Creative Cities Network (UCCN) was created in 2004 to promote cooperation with and among cities that have identified creativity as a strategic factor for sustainable urban development.

The DESIGN Canberra Festival is the primary outreach program for Craft ACT, presenting in 2018 the most eclectic program yet. From 5-25 November 2018, Canberra will be home to over 100 events, talks, exhibitions, tours, activations, markets, collaborations, artist studios and open homes to showcase the thriving and globally connected design community that Australia’s capital city is home to. Rachael Coghlan, CEO of Craft ACT and Artistic Director of DESIGN Canberra 2018 reflects on Canberra’s design history,

“DESIGN Canberra has resonated with Canberrans, the design sector and design lovers near and far because design is in Canberra’s DNA. From the time of Walter and Marion Griffin’s visionary design a century ago, to iconic experimental architecture of the 1950s and 60s, through to contemporary and sustainable design developments today, Canberra has been — and always will be — a living design laboratory,”

To achieve City of Design status, cities must meet criteria defined by UNESCO that includes having a thriving design industry fed by design schools and research centres, and practicing groups of creators and designers. During DESIGN Canberra 2018, Craft ACT will present a workshop to explore a future bid to join the UNESCO Creative Cities Network as a City of Design. Details will be released soon.