About Us

The Global Cultural Districts Network (GCDN) is an independent, international association committed to improving the quality of urban life through the contribution of the arts, culture and creative industries. The network fosters collaboration and knowledge-sharing among those responsible for creative and cultural districts, quarters and clusters in  widely diverse contexts, providing rich and rewarding opportunities for cross fertilization and exchange. The forum engages leaders and opinion formers in culture and in urban development through convenings, research and collaboration in order to inform global, local and sectoral agendas.

Arts and culture play an increasingly important role in ensuring the vitality of 21st century cities around the world. The Network helps connect leaders and visionaries of the arts and culture sectors to help shape the agenda and change the climate of opinion around the role of arts and culture in cities, at the institutional, neighborhood, local, national, and international levels.

Founded in 2013, the GCDN provides a context for cultural leaders to discuss emerging best practice across a range of issues related to the successful creation and management of cultural districts and cultural planning around the world.

It was sparked by a series of conversations with cultural leaders who were aware that whilst there existed forums in which people responsible for specific kinds of cultural institutions (museums or performing arts centers) could meet and discuss common issues, there was no such forum for those responsible for cultural districts, even though there is a great deal of new activity in this sector. (Some $US240 bn. is being invested in cultural infrastructure in districts over the next fifteen years.)

Below is a list of the primary preoccupations of our members and what often drives the content of our meetings and discussions:

  • Metrics of success
  • Technology – the wired district
  • Content and programming partnerships
  • Branding and identity
  • How to partner effectively and with whom
  • Recruitment and professional development
  • Responsibilities for tourism, education and community engagement
  • Animation of public spaces and strategies for public programming
  • What planned districts can learn from naturally occurring ones
  • The risks of success
  • Role of institutional anchors
  • Sustainability – financial and environmental
  • Governance – who should be at the table and how to get them there

GCDN annual meetings have been held in: Barcelona, Brooklyn, Dallas, Dubai, London, Montreal, and Providence.