Cape Town has been recognised for its efforts in promoting cultural and creative industries with a nomination to UNESCO Official City of Design, joining 180 cities worldwide, 64 of which have been named this year. Another first comes with this prestigious announcement, as Cape Town is the first city in Africa to receive such designation; Durban, the only other South African city in the Network, was included as a UNESCO City of Literature.

Created in 2004, the UNESCO Creative Cities Network (UCCN) aims at fostering collaborations with and among cities that have a strategic focus on sustainable urban development. The 180 cities in this network work together towards a common objective: placing creativity and cultural industries at the heart of their development plans at the local level while actively cooperating  at international level.

The City of Cape Town is delighted to have been admitted into UNESCO’s Creative Cities Network as a Design City. We recognise that creativity and culture are critical components in shaping Cape Town as a thriving and resilient city. Being part of the Network will help create valuable partnerships; coordinate, focus and grow Cape Town’s local design sector; share and create knowledge, grow new markets and have an impact on Cape Town’s ability to achieve inclusive, urban sustainable development.
— Patricia De Lille, Cobute’s Executive Mayor

The announcement has been well received by the Design Indaba, Craft & Design Institute (CDI) and Hasso Plattner Institute of Design Thinking, which have been fuelling creative and design thinking for over a decade now. The Design Indaba states “Throughout the 22 years of hosting the biggest design festival in the world right here in Cape Town, we can attest that this is a great city for design.” Amid problems and challenges, the nomination recognises Cape Town's resilience and ability to think creatively about the social and urban challenges it faces.

Design Indaba 2015. Image via  Mail & Guardian

Design Indaba 2015. Image via Mail & Guardian

Cape Town joins a very diverse list of cities such as Brasilia (Brazil), Dubai (United Arab Emirates), Greater Geelong (Australia), Istanbul (Turkey), Kolding (Denmark), Kortrijk (Belgium), Mexico City (Mexico) and Wuhan (China).  It is also refreshing to observe how the list of nominations includes new countries previously not represented, promising exciting collaborations in the coming years. 

In Cape Town, Woodstock and the Fringe District have elevated their status in terms of creative caliber. we've been loving the dynamic atmosphere at Guga s' Thebe Arts, Culture and Heritage village in Langa. The building has not only become a tourist attraction but it houses local artists'studios, Sunshine Cinema screenings, amazing art shows; Guga's Thebe does not only allow to foster creativity exchanges at the local level but it's also re-designing the Cape Town map in a more integrated way.

Even though social and political problems affecting SA cannot be ignored, it is empowering to witness the growth Cape Town as a collective is witnessing and the input our creative economy can have in the international scene. Viva Cape Town