Why are we running this project?

European cities are important centers for education, innovation, knowledge, economy, and culture.

Thanks to their many potentials and opportunities, they can function as laboratories for the future. At the same time, the social, ecological, and economic challenges of the urban context are becoming increasingly complex. More and more, it is only the pooling of various resources and skills that makes it possible to deal with these challenges in a truly effective and lasting manner.

Three quarters of Europe’s population already lives in cities – and the numbers are growing. Nevertheless, an urbanization gap still exists between the Western and the emerging European countries. Not least because of this, there is also great potential to learn from one another about how to address complex challenges (together).

Cities need open-minded and experienced actors who are ready to look beyond social, sectoral, cultural, and national differences in order to work cooperatively on substantive challenges.

What are our goals?

Therefore we empower and support actors who work for positive change to the common good, in a collaborative and participatory way. In this context, culture not only stands for diversity, creativity, and vitality, but it can also play an important role as a catalyst for local processes of transformation.

Actors of Urban Change aims to achieve sustainable and participatory urban development through cultural activities and by using specific potentials of culture as driver and enabler of positive change. This is carried out by strengthening the competencies for cross-sector collaboration among actors from the cultural, public and private sectors. Through local projects, an international qualification program, Europe-wide exchange and individual coaching, our participants put those skills into practice. Moreover, interaction with new organizations and individuals with different professional, cultural and social backgrounds, provides inspiring learning opportunities and facilitates further cross-sector understanding and collaboration. Through our program we seek to further sustainable and participatory development of European cities by connecting and training change-makers and by building a European network across sectoral borders.

How does the project work?

Groups of three actors each, one from the cultural, the public and the private sectors, form a local cross-sector team for the implementation of an innovative project in their city. The local projects need to address a particular aspect of urban or community development within their city (e.g. social inclusion and cultural diversity, affordable housing, environmental justice, the responsible use of resources). Moreover, the project must involve the local community.

For 18 months, ten cross-actor teams from different European cities obtain support for the implementation of their local projects. They benefit from international exchange within five seminars and through shadowing internships. At a local level, the teams receive project grants and individual support for their projects through customized tools from experts such as coaching or designing of participatory processes.

During the five international English-speaking seminars, advanced training is given on topics such as project and process management, as well as transition management, citizen participation or design and implementation of cross-sector collaborations. Shadowing Internships in cities of other participants allow sharing of experiences and mutual learning, and help to extend perspectives from a personal and local to an international level. Throughout the process, participants receive practical support from the program management.

Who organizes and supports the project?

Actors of Urban Change is a program by the Robert Bosch Stiftung in cooperation with MitOst e.V.

Network

After two stages (since 2013) of the program, the network counts more than 60 alumni from 20 European cities and 17 countries. The third stage (2017-2019) welcomes another 30 actors from 10 new cities and six new European countries. They benefit from networking opportunities within the program as well as from activities of the Robert Bosch Kulturmanager Network, the Bosch Alumni Network and MitOst e.V.

City Tool Box

A good example of knowledge transfer and the spread of good practices is the involvement of program participants, even after a program has been completed. An initiative by Actors of Urban Change from six different cities led to the creation of the online learning platform City Tool Box. Here, participants generate and share practice-oriented knowledge about urban interventions to increase local involvement, particularly among young people.

Publications by the local teams reflect the experience they have gathered through the processes and share the knowledge they have gained.