Creative minds need space. Quarters prosper wherever outstanding personalities fill them with life. The purpose underlying the state programme Creative.Quarters Ruhr is, on the one hand, to promote networking between the creative economy, administration and sponsors, while on the other contributing to communal quarter development. To this end, the project also provides funding for cultural stimuli and communication measures. Creative.Quarters Ruhr is a programme by the State of North Rhine-Westphalia in cooperation with ecce (european centre for creative economy).


Funded projects: Open Spaces for Art and Creative Impulses for the Ruhr region

Creative.Quarters Ruhr promotes cultural and artistic scope as well as creative impulses for the Ruhr Region and its cities. As for now 86 projects in 14 cities received funding from the Ministry for Culture and Science of the State of North Rhine-Westphalia (as of August 2018).

More detailled information about all funded projects are coming soon!

Learning from each other: Network Meetings Creative.Quarters Ruhr

The Creative.Quarters network meetings represent opportunities for those from the Ruhr metropolis active in urban transformation to come together. At regular intervals, ecce invites them to take part in meetings for dialogue, inspiration and reflection. These take place where future cultural activities are to emerge: in the heart of the quarters. The meeting venues may be alternative through to institutional but always held in places with potential and charisma such as Heimatdesign, Oberhausen's Bert-Brecht-Haus and the Dortmunder U. Partners present their projects here, learn from each other and have the opportunity to network and establish links with cross-regional showcase projects.

Current topics on urban development are focussed upon and given new understandings from the perspectives of politics, local government and the artists and creative minds themselves. As in all ecce projects, this requires transparency and participation. We want the network meetings to promote an open-ended culture of participation ranging from frames of reference and inspirational projects through to the forming of specific instruments for support.

Creative.Quarters Ruhr –  A model for Europe

  • The programme and its history

    Capital of Culture RUHR.2010

    The roots of the Creative.Quarters Ruhr lie in the European Capital of Culture RUHR.2010, which was the first European Capital of Culture that recognised Culture and the Creative Industries as one of its foundational pillars, integrating them in a wider sense and definition of culture. Since 2009, following an initiative by RUHR.2010 and ecce, artists and creatives as well as representatives of culture departments and economic development agencies of the region have gathered at roundtables to conceive a support for arts and culture that fosters structural change in the Ruhr region with regard to cultural, economic and urban transformations. This approach was included in the sustainability convention of the State of North Rhine-Westphalia and the Regionalverband Ruhr (Ruhr Regional Association) in 2011.


    A support programme for cultural impulse projects

    In 2012, the support programme was developed in accordance with the cities in the Ruhr region: Therefore, it is not only the continuation of a slogan issued by the European Capital of Culture RUHR.2010, “Change through Culture – Culture through Change”, but rather the concrete implementation of the thematic emphasis of the European Capital of Culture which further fosters regional development sustainably through cultural impulse projects. In this way, the Creative.Quarters Ruhr programme turned into a model for the sustainability of European Capitals of Culture, already garnering international acclaim in the process.

  • Culture creates cities – origin and future

    Bringing arts and life together

    There has been a tradition of bringing arts and life together in the Ruhr region going back to one of Germany’s most important patrons of the arts, Karl Ernst Osthaus (1874 until 1921). Among other things, he founded the Folkwang painting school (1901) as well as the Museum Folkwang, then in Hagen, now in Essen; while the European Capital of Culture RUHR.2010’s slogan “Change through Culture – Culture through Change” also traces its origins back to Osthaus, already serving as the inspiration for the International Building Exhibition IBA Emscherpark (1989 until 1999) that advanced structural change in the Ruhr region through investment in industrial culture, among other things.

    The IBA already connected town planning, social, cultural and ecological strategies, investing around 2.5 billion Euros in 120 Ruhr region projects. At the start of the 21st century, the determining factors of structural change as well as urban development have changed – public authority in Europe is lacking in financial scope for large-scale investment in infrastructure. This holds especially true for those European cities that struggle with high social costs due to structural change. Structural change in the Ruhr region is no exception within the European context.


    A model for a cultural-economic form of urban development

    The Creative.Quarters Ruhr want to be a model for a cultural-economic form of urban development in Europe. Due to technological change and radically altered conditions regarding their economy, these cities face new expectations voiced by their citizens: More participation, more transparency, more mobility and a hitherto unknown dynamic brought about by rapid technological and digital developments pertain not only to products and production, but more and more to social and urban structures as well.

    Wifi-access is no longer just a question of business location but also affects urban quality of living – as a driving force for a city’s attractiveness. Urban culture changes, not in the least due to said processes, finding its own means of communication beyond established media structures in print, radio, and TV, owing to the digital world and social media. The question is: What is going to define a culture city of the future? Inventory keeping through funding of established institutions or the financing of scope for new forms of cultural and artistic development?


    Urban development is a learning space for the future

    It is ecce’s conviction that cultural, economic and urban development has to provide, now more than ever, a frame for dialogue in which interest can be negotiated, leading to a mutual vision and according action. Investment on behalf of public authority will be dispatched only following on the basis of an integrative strategy developed in dialogue with all stakeholders in a quarter – with those investments serving as impulse and trigger for a locally held persuasion on how to develop “one’s own quarter”. Therefore, the Creative.Quarters Ruhr programme regards a quarter as a cultural, social space for dialogue and learning first and, subsequently, also as an economic space. But what forces operate in the Creative. Quarters, which stakes must be tied together in integration to work out a shared vision?

    Seeing the municipal administration as a long-term stable anchor for urban development, the departments of culture, economy and urban planning are ideally working in tandem within the quarters. So, the strategic cooperation of the spheres of culture, economy and urbanism forms the core of the Creative.Quarter Ruhr programme – not limited to municipal authorities, but together with property owners, stakeholders in Culture and the Creative Industries and individual artists. A city takes shape in roundtable talks in the quarters or in other forms of dialogue, between bottom-up and top-down strategies, driven by cultural Impulse.


  • Culture creates urban and economic potential

    Cultural impulses - a driving power

    Cultural impulse, of course, is not the only driving power for cities in the digital age, and therefore, it is important to avoid inflated expectations and pretence: Cultural impulse is not a universal remedy for aberration – naturally, not every deserted square can be invigorated, gratuitously, by the arts. Nonetheless, the power of the arts and culture to deploy positive effects for cities and the economy should not be underestimated. This is also documented in the handbook for the Cultural and Creative Industries, issued in 2013 by the European Commission, and this holds especially true for temporary projects that are rarely scheduled within classic urban development.

    Yet, “pop up” and “temporary” have long become buzzwords for a global trend driven by artist-activists such as JR as well as by digital pioneers such as Chris Anderson (The Maker Generation). The Ruhr region also hosts such a new generation of makers, gathering in the Creative.Quarters. But how does cultural impulse unfold in urban space? Which results do they show where? And when does it show? In the Ruhr region, the internationally accepted development approach of a stage theory of the cultural effect on urban development is implemented.

    This model, which, among others, Charles Landry sketched out in his book “The Creative City: A Toolkit for Urban Innovators” (1995), while Richard Florida’s research “The Creative Class” (2000) or the European Union’s survey on culture investment with means from the European Regional Fund suggest a sequence that can be observed in cities like Rotterdam, Liverpool, Manchester, Tallinn, Berlin, Leipzig, Mannheim as well as in the Ruhr region: From the support of cultural milieus (and this is not limited to ostensibly financial support), spaces for possibility emerge, also for economic activity.

  • International attention for a regional model

    Urban sprawl is globalisation’s foremost trend at the outset of the 21st century, and one of the imminent topics on the international agenda, as seen in the Bill Clinton Initiative C40, the World Cities Culture Forum, at the World Bank and, certainly not last, in the activities of the European Union. The European Union has put one emphasis of its support policy until 2020 on this with initiatives regarding Smart Cities and the Innovation Union.

    In this context, the Creative.Quarters Ruhr programme with its 2012 starting point is drawing more and more international attention, namely as a model for urban development lending form and opportunity to dynamics, diversity and seeming contradictions within a quarter. Through this, it creates scope for culture and economy in between the short-term unplanned nature of any bottom-up initiative and the rigid long-term manner of the top-down approach. In 2013, ecce was able to work out a model for participative urban development through cultural impulse with partners from Essen, Paris and Bilbao in the EU-funded project CATALYSE.

    In the meantime, delegations from cities and regions from, among others, Canada, Finland, China and the USA have shown interest in the programme, proving that Creative.Quarters Ruhr is bringing in an important model into the international debate on the future of cities and their diverse means of cultural Expression.

  • Impulses for national urban development

    In 2015, ecce was invited to Leipzig to present the Creative.Quarters Ruhr project at the 9th Bundeskongress Nationale Stadtentwicklung (9th Federal Congress on National Urban Development). At the congress, German examples for integrated urban development were debated, and the German contribution to urban development policy in the New Urban Agenda in the run-up to the UN Habitat III conference was also passed. Additionally, the federally funded initiative on activating urban policy “Stadt als Campus” (“The city as campus”) guested in Bochum and Witten, producing a film on the Creative.Quarters Ruhr project. From these developments, a team of stakeholders from Hamburg, Hanover and the Ruhr region emerged which started an initiative in 2016 to more enduringly establish the Creative Industries and Creative.Quarters Ruhr on the national urban development policy Agenda.

  • Contact

    Elisabeth Roos

    Project Assistant

    Phone: +49 (0) 231 222 275 24

    E-Mail: roos(at)