Bloomberg Philanthropies and Google Arts & Culture Announce the World Cities Culture Forum Leadership Exchange Programme

As The World Tipped, Greenwich Docklands International Festival, London © Stu Mayhew, Courtesy of Greater London Authority
As The World Tipped, Greenwich Docklands International Festival, London © Stu Mayhew, Courtesy of Greater London Authority

Partnering with the World Cities Culture Forum to Create the First City-to-City Exchange, Enabling Cities to Develop Best Practices in Advancing Cultural Projects and Shaping Public Policy

Bloomberg Philanthropies and Google Arts & Culture, with the World Cities Culture Forum (WCCF), have announced a major new grant opportunity for the 35 member cities of the WCCF to learn from one another and share ideas to solve common challenges across the globe. Each city will have the chance to apply for the Leadership Exchange Programme, a unique initiative designed to extend the expertise of, and foster collaborations within, the WCCF.

The Leadership Exchange Programme is the first-ever exchange designed to specifically support world cities in the development of best practices for advancing cultural projects and shaping public policy. As Mayors around the world invest in cultural projects ranging from cultural facilities and arts programming, to affordable workspace, tourism and sustainability, the WCCF Leadership Exchange Programme is an opportunity to bring cities together in accelerating innovation. Through peer-to-peer learning they will share the best of these ideas and approaches from around the world and replicate them in other cities.  

The World Cities Culture Forum has been a hotbed of collaboration over the past 6 years. This has included London’s Creative Land Trust, which was inspired by San Francisco’s Community Arts Stabilization Trust, Toronto’s discussion with Sydney about waterfront development as they transform the area around Lake Ontario, and Edinburgh’s work with Montreal to create their own strategy to map creative workspaces.

Justine Simons OBE, Deputy Mayor for Culture and the Creative Industries and Chair of the World Cities Culture Forum said: 'Culture is a golden thread that runs through our cities, defining their character and acting as the catalyst for ideas and innovation. But as cities grow there are serious challenges and the World Cities Culture Forum is working on practical solutions to ensure talent and creativity can flourish.

‘The Leadership Exchange Programme is a brilliant opportunity for global cities to learn about each other’s great projects and adapt them in a way that will improve their own cities. We’ve seen excellent examples of this already and I know the new exchange initiative will really help to accelerate collaboration.’

“As cities look to improve quality of life for their citizens, underpin economic development, and expand their international identities, culture delivers on all fronts,” said Kate Levin of Bloomberg Philanthropies.  “This is a unique opportunity to draw on the expertise of global arts leaders in city government who understand the value of culture as a public service, and benefit colleague cities.”  

“Each city’s art and sense of culture is unique; and so there is much we can learn from each other through collaboration and the sharing of ideas. We are proud to provide this grant which will enable a span of diverse cities to share best practices and build on cultural programmes that can be scaled in other cities,” said Amit Sood, Director of Google Arts & Culture.

The WCCF is a network of 35 member cities that share research and best practices, advancing the vital role of culture in their cities.  The Forum publishes data-driven research reports and convenes members through a programme of events including themed symposia, regional summits and workshops.  These events feed into the annual World Cities Culture Summit which is hosted on a rotating basis by member cities.  In 2017, the sixth annual Summit will be convened in Seoul, South Korea with a focus on cultural participation and well-being, and maker culture.  More than 70 participants from member cities are expected to attend, along with artists from South Korea and abroad.

This investment in WCCF, funded in partnership with Google Arts & Culture, builds on Bloomberg Philanthropies’ continuing effort to strengthen cities through investment and cultivation of the cultural sector through initiatives like the Arts Innovation Management Program and Public Art Challenge, and support from Bloomberg Associates, a world-class philanthropic consulting firm.

Bloomberg Philanthropies works in over 120 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 charitable activities, including his foundation and his personal giving. In 2016, Bloomberg Philanthropies distributed $600 million. For more information, please visit

The World Cities Culture Forum is an initiative of the Mayor of London, organised and coordinated by BOP Consulting ( The World Cities Culture Forum is a leading collaborative network of world cities that share a belief in the importance of culture for creating thriving cities. For more information about the forum and the summit, go to


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