Poland’s cities of Krakow and Katowice, Creative Cities of Literature and Music respectively welcomed the UNESCO Creative Cities Network (UCCN) as hosts of the UCCN Annual Meeting, June 12-15, 2018.

Paducah was in attendance at the meeting among more than 350 delegates, including 40 mayors, representing the 180 cities of the UCCN. The annual meeting provides participants an opportunity to exchange and share ideas and experiences on themes such as creativity and culture for a better quality of life in cities.

The theme “Creative Crossroads” celebrated the collaborative spirit which lies at the core of the Network and drives member cities’ local and international action. Stimulating innovative collaborations across the different creative fields, geographic regions and disciplines was the common ambition for this year’s meeting. Member cities were invited to share ideas, connect and co-create through an innovative, interactive event format.

“Culture and the creative industries represent real levers of economic, social and environmental development,” declared Ernesto Ottone Ramirez, UNESCO Assistant Director-General for Culture. “By mobilizing very diverse cities from metropolises to smaller towns, the Creative Cities Network serves above all as a space for exchange and for the sharing of experiences to invent the city of tomorrow.”

The mayors of UNESCO Creative Cities presented their vision of creativity as a wellspring of innovation and sustainable development during the Mayors Forum.

“The annual meeting is a chance to interact with representatives from over 140 cities,” said Mayor Brandi Harless. “The relationships being developed on Paducah’s behalf are starting to pay off for the creative community. This will only grow as we continue to stay involved with the network.”

Various Paducah initiatives and best practices were showcased during the meeting. The UCCN: Lab 2030 exhibition spotlighted “Engineering Creative Solutions to Global Challenges: Converting Waste to Energy,” a project of the University of Kentucky College of Engineering Paducah Campus. The “Days of Bread” program and creative knowledge platform debuted with Kirchhoff’s Bakery representing local traditional breadmaking techniques.

“Paducah is seen by our fellow UNESCO Creative Cities as a leader in working across sectors and cultures to facilitate creative partnerships,” says Paducah Convention & Visitors Bureau Executive Director Mary Hammond. “The Creative Cities Network was formed to exchange ideas among cities that acknowledge the vital role creativity plays as a driver for sustainable development. Learning from our peers around the world is an invaluable opportunity that will benefit our local community for many years to come.”