BSR Cultural Pearls
Strengthening the capacity of cities to increase social resilience through culture.
The BSR Cultural Pearls project, co-funded by the EU’s Interreg Baltic Sea Region programme, aims to strengthen social resilience in Baltic Sea Region municipalities, towns and cities by harnessing the potential of local assets of culture and creativity.
The project contains several key components
- a repository of good practices on increasing social resilience through culture,
- a social resilience Playbook containing tools specifically designed to help municipalities develop a social resilience action plan
- a capacity-building and peer-mentoring programme to support municipalities in implementing these plans
- and the BSR Cultural Pearls title awarded to four cities annualy, recognising outstanding culture-driven social resilience plans and enrolling them in the program.
Why culture-driven social resilience?
Social resilience refers to the ability of individuals, communities and societies to withstand and recover from social, economic, and environmental shocks and stresses. It involves the capacity to adapt and learn from these challenges, as well as to maintain or improve social and economic well-being. As the Baltic Sea Region faces numerous crises that significantly impact our societies, the need for social resilience is greater than ever. Leveraging the power of culture can play a crucial role in fostering this resilience and helping communities navigate these challenging times. Culture-driven social resilience specifically utilises the potential of culture in shaping the sense of belonging, adaptability and well-being of communities in the face of adversity.
The BSR Cultural Pearls project’s objective is to enable smaller cities and regions increase their social resilience and maintain the quality of life with local assets in an innovative way.
Local and regional public authorities (towns, cities, municipalities)
Main output: “Cultural Pearls” Awards
The main output of the project is the annual Cultural Pearls Awards, a title awarded to municipalities that seek to strengthen their capacity to work with their communities through culture, in order to increase social resilience, quality of life and attractiveness, in turn growing their international profile and visibility.
An open call for applications is launched annually. Eligible candidates enter into a development phase during which they develop a Culture and Resilience Action Plan, with the help of a Playbook for culture-driven social resilience containing good practices, and an action plan template – and supported by a national mentor organisation in the project consortium. On the basis of their action plans, four municipalities in the Baltic Sea Region are selected by an international jury and awarded the title “Cultural Pearl”. The four Pearls are then enrolled in the Cultural Pearls Program, supporting implementation of their action plan through peer-mentoring, a capacity building program and international exchange. A local award ceremony in June and an international ceremony at the end of the program help raise awareness, creating local momentum and international visibility.
The project BSR Cultural Pearls helps smaller cities and regions be more attractive to live in and improve their quality of life by engaging people in cultural activities and developing a stronger sense of commonship.
A resilient city is one that is well prepared to deal with change and responds appropriately to sudden, unpredictable events, as well as one that knows how to cope with post-crisis recovery and counteract further negative events. Changes that cities need to be prepared for are, for example, population aging or migration; unpredictable crises can include COVID.
It is precisely to help Polish (including Pomeranian) cities become more resilient that the Baltic Sea Cultural Center in Gdansk is implementing the project "Baltic Sea Region Cultural Pearls for More Resilient Cities and Regions". It is a project co-financed by the Interreg Baltic Sea Region program. Its leader is the Council of Baltic Sea States, while the other partners are local and regional authorities, NGOs, research institutions and cultural and creative industry institutions from the Baltic Sea Region countries, the Danish Cultural Institute, the Northern Dimension Cultural Partnership or Ars Baltica. The project is supported by, among others, the Union of Baltic Cities and the Pomeranian Tourist Organization, acting here as the Thematic Scope Tourism of the European Union Strategy for the Baltic Sea Region.
Our (project partners') common task will be to help smaller or less central cities and towns increase their resilience by making the best use of resources, mainly social and cultural, activating the local community, building strong partnerships and relations between residents and authorities. Together, as part of the project, we will create a resource of good practices, tools for building urban resilience and a support program for interested cities. We will invite cities to participate in the process of creating action plans to increase resilience with cultural activities (Please read “BSR Cultural Pearls- Culture and Social Resilience Action Plan - Guidebook" and "List of Good Practices - Extended" - scroll down to download these documents.) We will help create these plans and prepare for their implementation. The best-prepared cities will be awarded the status of Cultural Pearl of the Baltic, but a valuable reward will be the sheer experience gained from working on the action plan with the cooperation of experts/experts and cities that have already gone through a similar process. And the more cities prepare well for current and upcoming changes and unexpected crises, the more resilient and better for us, its residents, the entire Baltic region will be.
- Council of the Baltic Sea States (CBSS) – lead partner;
- Alytus municipality (LV);
- ARS BALTICA (DE);
- Baltic Sea Cultural Centre (PL);
- Danish Cultural Institute (DK);
- Heinrich Böll Foundation Schleswig-Holstein (DE);
- Loov Eesti/Creative Estonia (EE);
- Northern Dimension Partnership on Culture;
- Regional Council of Ostrobothnia (FI);
- Ministry of Justice, European Affairs and Consumer Protection of Land Schleswig-Holstein (DE);
- Varde Municipality (DK);
- Vidzeme Planning Region (LV).
January 2023 – December 2025
Budget and funding
The total budget of the BSR Cultural Pearls project is 3.5 million euros, of which 80 percent, or 2.8 million euros, come from the Interreg Baltic Sea Region programme and the remaining 20 percent from the project partners.
Magdalena Zakrzewska-Duda, Project Coordinator on behalf of the NCK, email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Krystyna Wróblewska, Project Manager, email: email@example.com
Katarzyna Szewciów, Communication Coordinator, email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Project coordination: Felix Schartner Giertta, Project Coordinator, BSR Cultural Pearls, Phone: +46 73 026 73 12, Email: email@example.com