An Attractive City Loves Arts and Culture
An Attractive City Loves Arts and Culture
  • Shin Won So-ra
  • 승인 2008.09.03 22:07
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“New York, London and Paris”: what enters your mind when you hear of those cities?  Most of you might think they are famous sightseeing cities which attract a huge number of tourists every year.  Cities like those above with fascinating characteristics have several things in common.  They are all regarded as cities with plentiful arts and culture.  The 21st Century is the era of competition between cities rather than countries.  A city which lacks cultural attractiveness will find it difficult to draw creative minds and investment from corporations.  Successful cities have their own unique arts and culture.

World’s Best Arts and Culture Cities

1. New York

The culture of New York City has been shaped by centuries of immigration, the city's size and variety, and its status as the cultural capital of the United States.  Many major American cultural movements first emerged in the city.  The Harlem Renaissance established the African-American literary canon in the United States, while American modern dance developed in New York in the early 20th century.  The city was the epicenter of jazz in the 1940s, abstract expressionism in the 1950s and Indie Rock in the 2000s, and it was the birthplace of hip hop, punk rock, and the Beat Movement.

New York City is an important international center for music, film, theater, dance and visual arts.  The city has more than 2,000 arts and cultural organizations and more than 500 art galleries.  Wealthy industrialists in the 19th century built a network of major cultural institutions, such as Carnegie Hall and the Whitney Museum of American Art, that became internationally established and that sustain cultural life in the city today. Artists have been drawn to the city by opportunity, as well; the city government funds the arts with a larger annual budget than the National Endowment for the Arts, and New York is a major center of the global art market. (

2. London

London is an international centre of culture in terms of arts, music, festivals, museums and much more.  It is hard to understand the trend of world’s art market without London.  In particular, the music market is the most effective in the world.  That’s because the United Kingdom has contributed a lot to cultural policy with the purpose of making London one of the world’s best art cities.  As London has become a hub of the international music market, many famous artists visit London and try to gain fame there.  London is also the base for the huge record company ‘EMI,’ which offers individual artists chances at success and popularity.  This was the policy that the United Kingdom set out to achieve. 

These two cities both have long histories and copious assets of arts and culture.  Many artistic factors are the main reasons why people from all over the world visit them.  Standing on this historical basis, they draw financial profit from tourism.   New York has 46 000 000 tourists per year and yields an economic profit of 21.2 billion dollars every year.  

Changes in Many Cities

Besides the cities above, many others are trying to express their own artistic creativity by changing old buildings such as factories into artistic places.  They want to show new cultural features through old architecture.

The Orsay museum, the Louvre and the Centre Pompidou are the three biggest museums in Paris.  The Orsay museum was a palace which was built for Marguerite de Valois.  However, it was left alone for about 30 years after 1871.  In 1900, it was recreated as a train station but it ceased operations as the city expanded.  This train station was changed into a museum designed by an Italian architect and has become an internationally noted building. 

The Tate Modern museum in London was a thermal power plant originally.  After it was moved to another location, the museum was established by remodeling its interior, while retaining its structure.  Every year 4 000 000 people visit the Tate Modern. 

Bilbao, a small city in northern Spain, had become a ‘city of failure’ in the 1980s as the steel industry, which was its principal enterprise, collapsed.  The worn-out factory near the polluted river was the symbol of desperation.  However, Bilbao chose a conversion of imagination; establishing The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in the area of harbors and warehouses which was the core of a city revival project begun in 1977. Frank Owen Gehry, the internationally-renowned architect, designed the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum.  The success of the building project changed Bilbao into a global culture destination.  98.6 milllion people have visited and spent 1.6 billion euro in the past 10 years in Bilbao.  As a result, the term ‘Bilbao effect’ is used whenever culture increases a city’s competitive power.

Singapore also had considerable achievements through its ‘Renaissance city project.’  The goal of this project was to make Singapore an international hub of performance.   The city-state erected the Esplanade Theater after investing about 0.6 billion dollars.  It has a concert hall, theater, studio, shopping mall, convention center and hotel covering 6 hectares.   The Esplanade Theater added enormous value to the economy.  

New Challenges in Korea

In addition, Korea has also tried to make its cities more cultural and artistic.  For example, in the past year, the Seoul city government planned the ‘Seoul plaza with culture and art’ program to help people enjoy cultural activities in their daily lives.  And this program will change the Seoul plaza into an auditorium for the arts instead of demonstrations.  Jung Hyo-seong, the culture chief of the Seoul government, said that “Seoul plaza is the place where modern people can experience culture and arts in between their hectic schedules.”

The City Gallery Project is a project aiming at forming a creative and cultural city which will make the whole city a piece of artwork.  The main purpose of this project is to implant cultural confidence in the people by installing public art in public places.  It started in 2007 and will be conducted by citizens and artists until 2010.  This will attract many foreign tourists with its unique and creative public art. 

Oksu station changed its appearance first as a part of the City Gallery Project.   If you go to Oksu station, you will not believe it is a train station.  There are various interesting sights to see.  Small yellow sculptures named ‘flowerpots’ are situated on the stairs, and chairs shaped like coffee cup catch people’s eyes.  The colorful entrance and bar code-like pillars are also impressive.  

Korea is aiming at having a ‘Global top 10 city’ through ‘Seoul Culturenomix.’  To be an attractive city, it is important to find Seoul’s own color, and create places for artists to freely communicate with people by expressing themselves through artworks.  As you see by other countries’ successful examples, changing old areas into artistic places plays an important role in making a city more charming.  Finally, people should have a mind to enjoying public arts and participate in these endeavors to make changes.

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