Coaching visit in Kalamata, a leading ‘peripherical creative city’ in South-West of Greece
On 18-20 May, a Culture for Cities and Regions coaching team travelled to Kalamata, Greece. The visit mainly focused on the sustainability of the city’s cultural sector and the future of its local creative industries. The coaching visit was not only about reflecting on local actions but also provided new ideas for inspiration. The visiting team included KEA European Affairs expert Arthur Le Gall, Peter Inkei of the Budapest Observatory, and the heads of cultural affairs departments of the city councils of Ghent and Espoo.
With around 70.000 inhabitants, Kalamata is the main city of the region of Messinia, in the South-West of Greece. Kalamata has been a city with culture as its core for a long time. It notably hosts a world-famous dance festival every year. Kalamata intensified its efforts to evolve culturally over the last couple of years when the city decided to bid for European Capital of Culture 2021. While they did not win, it is now more crucial than ever for local authorities to keep culture at the centre of the city’s activities. The momentum gained during the bidding process, the participatory processes, the common vision and the international contacts and collaborations should be maintained and sustained.
The coaching visit in Kalamata pursued two main objectives 1) support the city in operationalising its cultural strategy for 2016-2025; and 2) discuss potential initiatives to enable the development of cultural and creative industries in the city. Kalamata has set out a clear vision to become a leading ‘peripherical creative city’ and the work put into the preparation of the ECOC bid led to a very comprehensive and high-quality ten-year strategy for culture and creative industries. Public authorities, cultural operators and professionals, as well as volunteers still manage to deliver a dynamic cultural life in the city, despite a very severe pressure on human and financial resources.
For the coaching team, Kalamata has some key assets in terms of attractiveness: cultural heritage, festivals, nature, weather, and overall liveability of the city. The question is now how to leverage this attractiveness towards creative talents and cultural tourism (and not necessarily mass tourism). The foundations are there and they have been well-designed. Coaches' recommendations focus on making the most of existing resources across the city, through cooperation, shared resources and strong partnerships.
The coaching visit report is available here.