Survey comments

Co-creative cooperation in culture and heritage

Partner comments to co-creation

Co-creation on the agenda

The project partners share the view that co-creation has started to come on the agenda in their countries.

The local surveys of co-creation activities indicate the increasing relevance of co-creation in the field of participatory arts, voluntary culture and heritage.

Co-Creation in Finland 

By Kati Nurmi, project leader, SKS

In Finland co-creation has established itself as a model for different kinds of cooperation initiatives both in public and private sectors since the beginning of the early 2000s. Co-creation initiatives are most commonly used in service and product design, and in management to facilitate change and to promote innovation. Most recently, co-creation has also spread to the fields of health and social care, urban and regional planning, educational policies and cultures, and municipal projects with local organisations, companies and communities. At the moment co-creation is more widely used in service, corporation, municipal and social sectors than in culture and arts. However, co-creation philosophy – including co-producing and co-designing – seems deeply, yet inconspicuously, ingrained in cultural initiatives, where it supports democratic cooperation, engagement and empowerment. Recently co-creation has also become an international phenomenon with Finnish organisations actively getting involved in European co-creation initiatives, many in the field of culture.


Both Finnish examples of good practices are in the field of heritage: world heritage and intangible heritage (singing). Kaustinen laulaa -kevätlaulajaiset / Kaustinen Sings – Spring Singing Event was a communal musical event organised in Kaustinen as a part of the municipality’s 150th anniversary in 2018. The aim of the project was twofold: to celebrate “Kaustinen 150 years” with the local community and to revitalize musical tradition amongst young residents by inspiring them to take more interest in music. The project built upon a long established local musical tradition and cooperation in music education. It was based on citizen initiatives and cooperation between the local education sector (primary, secondary and music high school), Kaustinen city council, and a number of local third sector cultural organisations. In addition, local residents from young children to the elderly were closely involved with the project.


World Heritage sites’ boost to local services project (2016-2018) centres around two Unesco World Heritage sites in Central Finland: the old church of Petäjävesi and Struve Geodetic Arc in Oravivuori at Korpilahti. The goal of the project was to increase the visibility and appeal of the two sites and the surrounding areas in order to attract more visitors and thereby boost local business and tourism, and to revitalise the areas themselves. A further goal was to generate local interest in the sites, and cooperation between the two sites and the local community. These goals were to be achieved by creating new know-how and competences, by creating novel cooperation outside the current domain and strengthening existing networks, by strengthening marketing and advertising, and by regenerating and productising the sites themselves. The official project partners were HUMAK University of Applied Sciences and two Leader groups, JyväsRiihi ry. and Vesuri ry., and the project was executed with a large number of local actors and stakeholders, such as entrepreneurs (e.g. in travel industry, catering and media), third sector organisations, expert organisations, as well as schools and education providers.

Co-creation in Austria 

By Aron Weigl, executive director for EDUCULT

Co-creation plays an increasingly large role in Austria in many fields and contexts. However, the term is hardly used. Co-creation is most likely to be associated with joint artistic creation or product design. Instead, in Austria we are talking either about participation and participation processes or about collaborative governance. This involves the exchange within the framework of decision-making and/or implementation processes between public actors, i.e. urban or state, on the one hand and either citizens or civil society organisations on the other hand. Especially within the framework of environmental projects, civil society organisations are increasingly involved in decision-making processes – not least on the basis of the Aarhus Convention, which came into force in 2001.

In general, however, there are also signs of an increase in the direct involvement of citizens in political decision-making processes at the local level. One such example is the constitutionally anchored citizens’ councils in the federal state of Vorarlberg, in which randomly selected citizens deal with a social issue. The results must be taken into account by elected politicians.

As far as the cultural sphere is concerned, co-creative approaches have been applied in recent years, particularly within the framework of Cultural Development Plans (CDPs). These happen mainly at a municipal level. The probably most prominent example is the working process for the Cultural Development Plan of Salzburg between 2016 and 2018. In this case, the plan was focusing on the whole federal state of Salzburg, not only on the municipality. The two-year process included a network of stakeholders, so representatives of the cultural administration and the responsible government as well as a variety of civil society actors and actors of the cultural field, e.g. cultural institutions. Interestingly, in the three phases of the process different forms of co-creation could be observed.

In the second example, it was also a citizens’ initiative that first formulated the interest in the project. This concerns the application process of the city of St. Pölten for the European Capital of Culture 2024. Within the framework of this, the citizens’ initiative started 2016 as a platform. The city and the federal state Lower Austria then started the official application, taking up the interest from civil society. In principle, the process was also implemented with a strong participation approach. The bid-book was written jointly by public representatives (city and federal state) and civil society actors (several initiatives) until 2019. The process aims at the development of a strategic plan for the time until 2030.

These two examples represent different ways in which a region can be developed in terms of cultural policy. In both cases, co-creative approaches were chosen, but implemented in different ways. The longer periods in which the processes were implemented should be emphasised. An important first finding of the analysis is to take sufficient time for co-creative processes. Another could be that a precondition for a successful process is the will of all participants to accomplish something.

© Copyright. All Rights Reserved.