Column Erik Pals (Scapino Rotterdam)

Culture is an essential pillar in the development of Rotterdam

Anyone who has experienced Rotterdam up close in recent years has seen the city change at a rapid pace. Rotterdam is often referred to as the 'testing ground' of the Netherlands. Social, political and economic innovations often first gain a foothold in the Maasstad, before they spread over the rest of the country. For example, Rotterdam is often the birthplace of new political voices, but the city also facilitates new sectors such as clean tech.

The Rotterdam cultural sector cannot be separated from these developments. Culture cannot be seen as a separate phenomenon, but is an essential pillar in the development of the city. After all, art and culture not only make the city attractive for residents, businesses and visitors, but also challenge reflection and dialogue, and encourage encounters between different groups of the population. Especially in times of rapid change, culture offers space and opportunity to find solutions for new issues. In my opinion, the cultural sector is essential in finding answers to complex challenges in our super diverse city.

The rich and diverse Rotterdam cultural sector can also contribute to an inclusive city and poverty reduction through well-thought-out education programs, because good cultural education stimulates the personal development of children and thus helps to give everyone equal opportunities.

The Rotterdam cultural sector reaches hundreds of thousands of people every year. But the influence of culture does not stop outside the doors of cultural institutions. Culture determines the success of an area and can improce social cohesion in the city. By means of placemaking, culture, in collaboration with businesses and residents, can contribute to elevating neighborhoods and shaping the physical city. Culture also has the potential to shed new light on the city or an area by revealing invisible stories. Culture thus improves the business climate. I hope that the members of the Rotterdam Central District Association endorse the value of art and culture and I challenge them, together with the cultural sector, to prepare the Central District and the entire city for the challenges of the future.

Erik Pals

General director of Scapino Ballet Rotterdam

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