In 2004, UNESCO launched a project known as UNESCO Creative Cities Network to help recognize creativity and the critical role it plays in urban development. The network has 116 cities from 54 countries as of 2017, below are some of them.
13. Montreal, Canada - Design
Montreal, Canada is the largest metropolis in the province of Quebec with an urban population of 1.9 million. Montreal is also the second largest French-speaking city in the world. It is a hub for designers with more than 25,000 professionals working in the field that is responsible for 34% of the country's total economic impact on the cultural sector. There have been several strategies set aside for the development of Montreal as a design city such as the improvement of access to public commissions for designers, recognition for designers and raising awareness about the talents of the city's designers and architects. Montreal was the first North American city to allocated a percentage of the city budget to public art. Montreal was designated as a UNESCO Creative City of Design in 2006.
12. Detroit, United States - Design
Detroit is located in the US state of Michigan is a metropolis with a population of more than 6 million inhabitants in its greater area. The city is considered to be a heart of creative industries and a hub for industrial design. Detroit has established itself as a worldwide center for prolific architects and designers such as Yamasaki, Knoll, and Eames. The city's urban regeneration \ is a primary source of employment and is driven by the design industry, employing over 45,000 people and generating approximately $2.5 billion wages. Detroit, which is home to the Detroit Design Festival, became the first US city to join the list of UNESCO Creative City of Design on December 11th, 2015.
11. Iowa City, United States - Literature
Iowa City, Iowa has an estimated population of 73,000. The city is famous for its rich history in literature together with a successful network of university grassroots and civic institutions. The institutions tend to have enthusiastic approaches to teaching thus nurturing great and unique writers. The Iowa's Writers Workshop is the first Master of Fine Arts degree program in creative writing offered in the world. In November 2008 Iowa became the third UNESCO City of Literature.
10. Ensenada, Mexico - Gastronomy
The city of Ensenada, located in the state of Baja California, Mexico is best known for its development of the wine industry. The city is famous for having the largest viniculture in the Mexican region which has profoundly contributed and encouraged the city's culinary scene. Recently, Ensenada gained its designation in the field of gastronomy, being listed on the Creative Cities Network in 2015 by UNESCO.
9. Paducah, United States - Crafts and Folk Art
The city of Paducah located in the US state of Kentucky is renowned for holding the longest tradition in the fine craft of quilt making. Sometimes dubbed Quilt City, it is home to the National Quilt Museum of The United States, which is the world's largest museum of its kind. The museum encloses approximately 30,000 square feet of gallery space, featuring a 320-piece collection of contemporary quilts in exhibitions whose themes are always changing in celebration of the different traditional methods of quilt making. In November 2013 Paducah was designated as a UNESCO Creative City of Crafts and Folk Art.
8. Sante Fe, New Mexico - Crafts and Folk Art
Santa Fe located in New Mexico has always been a cultural hub which is an integral part of the city and its history. The city is deeply rooted with the exchange of goods and ideas which can be traced from the trade fairs attended by the indigenous people of Mexico and Native Americans to the modern day art fairs and markets. Santa Fe is home to more than 250 art galleries and an impressive range of museums. The city was designated as a UNESCO Creative City of Crafts and Folk Art in 2005.
7. Tucson, United States - Gastronomy
Tucson a city located in the Sonoran Desert, Arizona is popular for its long-standing history of agriculture. The city has a tradition of livestock ranching, vineyards, and orchards that go back 300 years. With a population estimate of 1 million inhabitants, the city has developed a culturally rich history of traditional food preparation techniques together with a variety of heritage food ingredients. The city which enjoys a thriving culinary sector was designated as a UNESCO Creative City of Gastronomy in 2015.
6. Austin, United States - Media Arts
Located in the US state of Texas, Austin is a creative hub, which is a significant sector of the city's economy. Austin with an estimated population of 900,000 inhabitants is a city where businesses thrive due to the intersection of digital technology, art, and music. The city's creative sector has had an increase in growth of over 40%, employing over 49,000 people with permanent jobs and contributing more than $4.35 billion to its economy. Austin was designated as a UNESCO Creative City of Media Arts in 2015.
5. Nassau, Bahamas - Crafts and Folk Art
Located in the Bahamas, Nassau is one of the oldest cities in the Americas. The city has a distinct culture of folk art and crafts derived from migration. Nassau has a long history of creative exchange and has paved the way for the development of the local creative economy. Nassau was designated as a UNESCO Creative City of Crafts and Folk Art in December 2014.
4. Jacmel, Haiti - Crafts and Folk Art
The city of Jacmel located in Haiti is renowned for its radiant carnival and rich heritage. Despite the city having been affected by the 2010 earthquake, Jacmel is investing in promoting its arts and crafts sector together with preserving its traditions and culture. The city's carnival known for its outstanding originality and creativity is the focal point of creative development in Jacmel. The city was designated as a UNESCO Creative City of Crafts and Folk Art in 2014.
3. Kingston, Jamaica - Music
Jamaica is famous for its rich history in reggae music with its capital, Kingston being home to an estimated population of 660,000 inhabitants. The city is home to famous production houses and recording studios which have developed Kingston as an internationally known hub for music making. Legendary musicians like Bob Marley and Dennis Brown are the founding father of musical genres in Jamaica such as reggae, rocksteady, ska, dancehall, and mento. The music industry which is a source of employment to 43,000 people contributes about $130 million. Kingston was designated UNESCO Creative City of Music in 2015.
2. Puebla, Mexico - Design
Located in Mexico, Puebla is the fourth largest city in the state with an estimated population of 1,540,000 inhabitants. The city's creative sector generates 38,663 jobs and a GDP of 7.26% in the state's economy. In a span of five years, Puebla invested $1,250 billion in 1,374 urban design creative projects. Puebla was designated as a UNESCO Creative City of Design in 2015.
1. San Cristobal de las Casas - Crafts and Folk Art
San Cristobal de las Casas located in Chiapas has a population of about 186,000 inhabitants most of whom are indigenous people who contribute immensely to the thriving folk art and crafts sector. The city comprises of a broad range of traditional technology majorly in wood carving, pottery, embroidery and amber jewelry. The city in 2015 was designated as a UNESCO Creative City of Crafts and Folk Art.
Are There Any UNESCO Creative Cities in North America?
UNESCO Creative Cities in North America include Montreal, Detroit, Iowa City, and Ensenada.
About the Author
Benjamin Elisha Sawe holds a Bachelor of Arts in Economics and Statistics and an MBA in Strategic Management. He is a frequent World Atlas contributor.
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