Skip to main content

05 July 2023

Report highlights creative role of cultural policy in 'post-COVID' city recovery

A new report from King’s in collaboration with the World Cities Culture Forum analyses how city policymakers around the world supported culture through the pandemic, and the implications for the future.

report cover with title and image of child wearing facemask playing in busy street

COVID-19 had devastating effects on cities around the world. Alongside the loss of life and health, the pandemic had a wide range of socio-economic consequences for urban communities, including damaging impacts on city cultural life.

A new report published today, Creative Recovery? The Role of Cultural Policy in Shaping Post-COVID Urban Futures highlights how city policymakers responded to the pandemic in support of culture, and what the consequences might be for the future. Working in collaboration with the World Cities Culture Forum, a network of 42 cities across the globe, academics from King’s have analysed extensive data, including 270 new policy measures from cities in five continents, to explore how cultural policy has helped with city recovery.

The project brought together an interdisciplinary team of researchers from the Department of Culture, Media & Creative Industries, the Department of Geography, and the Policy Institute. This collaboration was supported by the King’s Together Multi and Interdisciplinary Research Scheme and King’s Culture.

The research addressed three questions:

  1. How did city cultural policymakers respond to COVID-19 in support of culture?
  2. What was the role of the World Cities Culture Forum?
  3. What are the implications of these cultural policy responses for post-COVID urban futures?

Our research with the World Cities Culture Forum shows that in response to the huge challenges and losses of the pandemic, city policymakers experimented and innovated in how they support culture. These new possibilities for cultural policymaking have the potential to make key contributions to the ongoing process of developing more inclusive, sustainable, and democratic ‘post-COVID’ urban futures.

Dr Jonathan Gross, Department of Culture, Media & Creative Industries, King’s College London

The key findings and implications provide a global picture – with cities from Amsterdam to Buenos Aires, Toronto to Tokyo all part of the study, also including Austin, Hong Kong, Lagos, London, Paris, Milan, and more besides.

River of Light’ (#ddHK). Image courtesy of 2021 Hong Kong Design Centre.

Read more about the key findings and implications here.

The authors of the report were Dr Jonathan Gross – Department of Culture, Media & Creative Industries, Dr Lucy McFadzean – Department of Culture, Media & Creative Industries, Dr Kirstie Hewlett – Policy Institute, Dr Luke Dickens – Department of Geography, Professor Philip Hubbard – Department of Geography, Professor Roberta Comunian – Department of Culture, Media & Creative Industries and Dr Niall Sreenan – Policy Institute.

The pandemic had a devastating impact on culture, but King’s College London’s new report with the World Cities Culture Forum reveals how culture is driving recovery in cities – from reanimating public spaces and encouraging people back into full engagement with city life, to improving working conditions for creative workers. Following the outbreak of COVID-19, city leaders became entrepreneurs and innovators providing rapid response solutions, and some pandemic initiatives will remain in our cities forever

Justine Simons OBE, London’s Deputy Mayor for Culture and the Creative Industries, and the Founder and Chair of the World Cities Culture Forum

In this story

Jonathan Gross

Lecturer in Culture, Media & Creative Industries

Kirstie Hewlett

Research Fellow

Luke Dickens

Senior Lecturer

Philip Hubbard

Professor of Urban Studies

Roberta Comunian

Professor of Creative Economies