(photo credit: REUTERS)
Tel Aviv was among 28 cities designated as new members of UNESCO’s creative cities network Monday, with a focus on media arts.
The network aims to develop cooperation between cities that have made creativity a strategic priority, and promotes partnerships in innovative projects, studies, training and policy linked to creative development.
“Tel Aviv’s entrance to UNESCO’s Creative Cities Network reflects the world’s recognition of the city’s contribution to the present and the future – recognition of Tel Aviv as a vibrant center of cultural creation and breakthrough technology, the creative industries and the focus of the original visionary scene of digital innovation and initiatives,” said Tel Aviv Mayor Ron Huldai.
The media arts designation, previously shared by Lyon and Enghien-les-bains in France and Sapporo, Japan, looks at how digital technology and media can improve urban life and how digital platforms can enhance cultural access. Other cities designated in the category Monday included Dakar, Senegal; Gwangju, South Korea; Linz, Austria and York in the UK.
Tel Aviv was recently designated the “World’s Smartest City” in a smart city conference in Barcelona for launching Digi-tel, a platform for engaging with its residents that includes providing access to culture and arts. It has also put up free Wi-Fi in public areas frequented by tourists.
The designation carries an obligation to “collaborate and develop partnerships with a view to promoting creativity and cultural industries, to share best practices, to strengthen participation in cultural life, and to integrate culture in economic and social development plans.”
Israel’s relationship with UNESCO has been testy in recent years. In 2011, the group recognized “Palestine” as a member state, leading Israel and the US to withdraw their funding. Two years later, both lost their voting rights in the UN’s cultural arm.
Monday’s designations increased the number of designated cities by more than half, to a total of 69. Aside from media arts, cities can be designated for craft and folk arts, design, film, gastronomy, literature and music.