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Culture counts: An empirical approach to measure the cultural and creative vitality of European cities

How can we measure culture in urban areas? Can empirical metrics on culture function as an urban planning tool for cities' well-being? This paper fits into the research path examining the role of culture as a resource for development, with a specific focus on empirical measurement aspects. A novel dataset (The Cultural and Creative Cities Monitor – CCCM) gathering 29 indicators for 168 cities in 30 European countries is presented. The CCCM measures the presence and attractiveness of cultural venues and facilities (Cultural Vibrancy), the capacity of culture to generate jobs and innovation (Creative Economy), and the conditions enabling cultural and creative processes to thrive (Enabling Environment). Results show that cultural and creative assets are diversely distributed across European cities, which offer local authorities the opportunity to design context-specific development strategies. In particular, many medium-sized cities appear to have, on average, more cultural capital assets per inhabitant than larger cities. On the basis of these findings, we draw conclusions on the conceptual and methodological relevance of the CCCM and advance proposals on how to further use the CCCM data to drive culture-led and evidence-based urban policy design.