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UNESCO Creative City of Design Dundee

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The UK National Commission for UNESCO’s case studies are a series of studies that focus on specific interactions between UNESCO’s programmes, designations and objectives and the UK

UNESCO Creative City of Design Dundee

PUBLISHED 25 JUNE 2020

This case study is part of the 2020 Nation Value of UNESCO to the UK Report.

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In Dundee, culture and innovation lie at the centre – quite literally. Having grappled with serious post-industrial challenges such as depopulation and job loss, the city has been embracing creativity to boost its economy and enhance public well-being.

From developing strong public art and dance programmes to becoming the location of Scotland’s first design museum, the City is a cultural hotspot dedicated particularly to the world of design.

Dundee became a UNESCO Creative City of Design in 2014 and has been using design to uphold UNESCO’s values and objectives, Annie Marrs, the City’s Lead Officer, tells us:

“For us, everything comes back to the Sustainable Development Goals and UNESCO Creative Cities’ mission statement. Culture is fundamental to making a city a successful place and for people to live good healthy, successful lives. It’s not an add-on. We publicly champion our commitment to placing creativity at the heart of our local development plan and our international co-operations; to celebrating and using design to improve people’s lives and championing design; to trying to promote the talent of our designers to make sure that Dundee is a creatively and commercially successful place to actually be a designer; and to the UNESCO’s Creative Cities network so that our designers are able to learn from an international best practice and that they can go to other places or they can collaborate internationally. And that’s really important for us because we think that’s the strength of the network. The more we can engage internationally, the better we get.”

Annie Marrs, Dundee Creative City Lead Officer

The city’s UNESCO status is built on several partnerships. Led by Dundee Partnership it is directly supported by the local universities, Dundee City Council, Leisure and Culture Dundee, Creative Dundee and many other organisations, businesses and institutions which have all signed up to Dundee’s City Values. Exhibitions, design workshops and across-the-city projects, such as the annual Design Parade, help to raise awareness around design and the creative industries, encourage creative thinking, enhance career prospects and well-being, and create a more people- focused public sector.

“We believe that the more people work together the better they understand each other’s differences and the stronger we’ll be as a society. We happen to do that through design. But the fundamental founding principle is that we want our young people, and our community to be together, try to understand each other and have a peaceful, safe world to live in.”

Annie Marrs, Dundee Creative City Lead Officer

The 360° immersive and interactive experience ‘Spheel’ was designed as ‘a conservation starter’ to encourage young people to talk about mental health. Designed by Biome Collective and a part of the London Design Biennale 2018 ‘Emotional States’, the interactive game experience helps young people to express their feelings through sounds and colours rather than words. The project was a collaboration between Youth Work Organisations Hot Chocolate Trust and The Corner, Creative Scotland, NEoN Digital Arts Festival, University of Dundee, Abertay University and UNESCO City of Design Dundee. It is one of the City’s many innovative ways of how design can be used to enhance public well-being.

This case study was a part of the 2020 National Value of UNESCO to the UK Report 

ISSN 2050-8212 (Print)

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Discover the National Value Programme

The 2020 National Value for UNESCO to the UK Report & Programme

The National Value Report seeks to capture the economic and wider intangible value of the UK network of UNESCO designations. It finds that the network is adding significant value to our economy and society and recommends how this value can be enhanced.

The National Value of UNESCO Designations to the United Kingdom Report shows how UNESCO is bringing sites, people and communities together, and creating and delivering value for the United Kingdom. It finds that the vibrant network of UNESCO sites in the UK, its Overseas Territories and Crown Dependencies are contributing in three main areas: they contribute financial value, they make a rich and creative contribution to the UK’s environment, culture and communities and contribute to the attainment of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.

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The 2020 National Value for UNESCO to the UK Report & Programme Case Studies

The case studies that form this series illustrate these benefits to the UK that are contributed by the vibrant Network of UK UNESCO sites as found by the National Value Report; featuring financial value, academic research, environmentalism and climate change, promotion and preservation of culture, education and more.

PUBLISHED 25 JUNE 2020

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