Cities are increasingly acting as catalysts for culture-led urban development in Asia and Europe. Through people-centred policies, inclusive governance and speedy decision-making, cities are proving to be innovative hubs for creativity. Areas of mutual bi-regional interest include experiences in participatory policy-making and access to culture for citizens. This was the key message of the 8th ASEF Public Forum on Creative Cities in Asia and Europe - Cities: Living Labs for Culture? which brought together 15 speakers from 13 countries on 24 November 2015 in Gwangju, Korea. The forum was held as part of 2015 Asia Culture Forum to mark the opening of the Asia Culture Center, the single largest cultural project in the history of Korea.

The forum was opened by H E Jong-deok KIM, Minister for Culture, Sports and Tourism, Republic of Korea in presence of H E YOON Janghyun, Mayor of Gwangju, H E LIM Hyangsoo, Chairperson, Presidential Committee for Hub City of Asian Culture, and Ambassador ZHANG Yan, Executive Director, Asia-Europe Foundation (ASEF). The report of the forum can be downloaded here. 

The publication, Cities: Living Labs for Culture? - Case Studies from Asia and Europe (2015, ASEF) was launched at the forum. It presents 27 case studies and 5 essays, which draw upon the experiences of 40 cities. The forum and the publication explore 4 topics of mutual interest for Asia and Europe: arts leadership, policy-making at the city level, the changing role of cultural institutions in today's cities and capitals of culture as innovative models of foregrounding the arts.

The outcomes of the forum will be presented at the 7th ASEM Culture Ministers’ Meeting(ASEM CMM7 2016, Korea), which will be hosted by the Government of Korea against the backdrop of the 20th Anniversary of the Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM). The importance of creativity and the arts in socio-economic development is high on the ASEM cultural agenda since 2014.