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Bloomberg Philanthropies and the World Cities Culture Forum Announce the Second Leadership Exchange for Cultural Leaders in Global Cities

 Cities will share best practices for advancing cultural projects to shape public policy on today’s most pressing challenges

LONDON – The World Cities Culture Forum (WCCF), the leading network for cities and culture, is now accepting applications from current WCCF member cities to participate in the Leadership Exchange Programme. The Leadership Exchange enables city leaders in the cultural sector to share ideas that advance local projects and policymaking. In each Exchange, a team of city representatives and cultural leaders will visit a member city facing common challenges to learn about innovative strategies, policies and programmes that can be advanced in their home cities.‎

Previous participating cities shared their experiences establishing programmes that successfully address issues such as ensuring affordable space for artists; recycling discarded materials for use as art supplies in schools and non-profits; promoting local culture in neighbourhoods; and celebrating and engaging marginalized communities.

Deputy Mayor of London for Culture and the Creative Industries, Justine Simons OBE said: “If you want to be a successful city in the 21st century, culture has to be part of the mix. Culture brings people together, builds civic pride, boosts the economy, regenerates neighbourhoods and gives tourists a reason to visit. All major cities need smart innovative policies to ensure culture thrives and all citizens benefit from it. The Leadership Exchange Programme is a fantastic opportunity for city leaders to share their best ideas, be inspired and develop solutions to the problems global cities face.”

Kate D. Levin, Bloomberg Philanthropies and former Commissioner of the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, said: “Cultural projects can serve as the testing ground for solutions to a wide range of urban issues, bringing communities together and improving the quality of life of residents. The Leadership Exchange is a unique opportunity for cities to learn from each other while also spreading ideas that work.”

This new opportunity builds on the success of the pilot programme, and has the potential to reach more cities across different regions. The first Leadership Exchange, which began in 2018, supported four exchanges engaging nine cities (Austin, Amsterdam, Buenos Aires, London, New York, San Francisco, Sydney, Toronto and Warsaw).

Enrique Avogadro, Minister for Culture, City of Buenos Aires said: “Culture is one of the main assets of our City, as it enables both personal growth and it develops opportunities for society. Culture is a definitive tool for inclusion and social transformation; it should be built in to each city’s diversity. This programme allows us to work together with other cities to make this happen. We believe that cultural exchange and mutual learning are key to generating the best policies and practices. Moreover, we have to be willing to embrace all kinds of challenges that will urge our cities to become better and better.”


  • Toronto and Sydney’s exchange centered on indigenous placemaking through public art and urban design. As a result, Toronto’s 10 year public art strategy will be directly influenced by Sydney’s Indigenous strategy, the Eora Journey, and both cities’ artists will collaborate on future arts projects.
  • Buenos Aires and London focused on improving access to culture through neighborhood cultural policy and programming. Buenos Aires was inspired by youth engagement of The Agency, at Battersea Arts Centre and plans to include teenage engagement in future versions of its Barrios Creativos
  • London and New York’s exchange promoted creative reuse in London. As a result of visiting Materials for the Arts, the London delegation is working with the London Waste and Recycling Board to target the creative sector in the Circular London reuse and circular economy initiative.
  • Amsterdam, Austin, London, New York, San Francisco, Sydney, Toronto and Warsaw participated in a multi-city exchange focused on cultural space development hosted by the City of Toronto. The multi-city exchange included sharing best practices on the development of cultural spaces and the use of NGOs intermediaries between artists and real estate developers; advocating for local cultural spaces; and identifying existing and potential spaces for arts practice.

The deadline to apply for the Leadership Exchange is 12 February 11am GMT, selected exchanges will be announced in late April 2020.

About World Cities Culture Forum
The World Cities Culture Forum is a leading collaborative network of 38 world cities who believe culture is the golden thread 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 out 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 2019, the Summit will be held in Lisbon.

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, go to or follow on Facebook and Twitter.

About Bloomberg Philanthropies
Bloomberg Philanthropies invests in 510 cities and 129 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 giving, including his foundation and personal philanthropy as well as Bloomberg Associates, a pro bono consultancy that works in cities around the world. In 2018, Bloomberg Philanthropies distributed $767 million. For more information, please visit or follow us on FacebookInstagramYouTube and Twitter.

Media Contact:
Rebecca Carriero, Bloomberg Philanthropies, +1 (212) 205-0182 or
Martha Pym, World Cities Culture Forum,