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Urban Changes and Culture. Conference of Encounters

International Conference on the Topic of City Development and Culture on the Occasion of the Year Germany and India 2011-2012
Kolkata, 8-11 February, 2012

In 2009, for the first time, more than 50% of the world’s population lived in cities. This change, which is expected to even become more intense in the future, requires new thinking for the urban habitat.

The conference have brought together experienced city planners, architects, cultural managers, and sociologists from India and Germany to discuss the future of changing cities and the role of cultural institutions within them. A focus was laid on medium-sized cities, a city type that, in past years, increasingly became the centre of attention within the discussion of urbanity. Their topology and development in Germany and in India, however, are very diverse: While medium-sized cities in India expand into large areas which are densely populated, in Germany, cities are threatened by migration and are notably shrinking.

How can cultural institutions of the respective countries respond to these challenges and how can they position themselves within these changing urban realities? To which visions of the "future museum" that incorporate and react to this change, can we relate?

The diversity of the situation in India and in Germany has enhanced a productive and possibly even controversial debate during the conference, which delivered creative results based on the mutual transfer of know-how and experience.

The conference Urban Changes and Culture was accompanied by a youth conference and the participants of both events have been interacted in two discussion forums. By opening up the topic also for a younger generation, it was the aim to initiate unconventional debates and thereby create concrete ideas for action, which will offer new perspectives for cultural institutions and initiatives.

Background
The Dresden State Art Collections, which comprise a total of twelve museums, are among the most significant and oldest museum institutions of the world. Today, they are more than ever the place of research across national and once dividing borders. Based on more than 45o years of collecting, the Dresden State Art Collections see themselves as an international operating cultural and social institution which encourages and enriches the dialogue between cultures.

The conference is part of the initiative Germany and India 2011-2012 of the Federal Foreign Office and can be seen as a sustainable contribution to enhance the cultural exchange between India and Germany. With its broad topic StadtRäume – City Spaces, the year offers a unique chance to initiate and to deepen discussions about the relations between cities and their cultural institutions.