BSR Cultural Pearls is a title for smaller towns, cities and municipalities that provides awarded candidates a programme and support to use culture in building social resilience.

By engaging and involving their citizens, increasing quality of life, sense of belonging and trust, they will be able to make their communities stronger and more resilient.

The project, co-funded by the EU’s Interreg Baltic Sea Region programme, aims to strengthen social resilience in Baltic Sea Region municipalities by harnessing the potential of local assets of culture and creativity. 

Annually, we invite local authorities from the region – especially those from less central areas – to join this transformative journey. Through a meticulous selection process, the candidates with outstanding and impactful action plans on culture driven social resilience are awarded the BSR Cultural Pearls title.

The journey to becoming a BSR Cultural Pearl unfolds in stages. Initially, a selection based on motivation and concept identifies eligible candidates. These candidates then enter a phase of action plan development, creating Culture and Resilience Action Plans with access to specialised tools, webinars, and individual mentorship. An international jury then selects the best plans to award the BSR Cultural Pearl title.

Award recipients then embark on a one-year programme of action plan implementation, supported by mentors and experts locally as well through webinars, conferences, and study visits. This includes seed money for external support and collaboration with local cultural and creative sector actors.

Showcased across the region, the BSR Cultural Pearls recipients highlight the power of community and culture. Both awardees and the other participating municipalities join the BSR Cultural Pearls network, gaining international exposure and continuing to enhance their community’s resilience.

Why do we need to build social resilience? Why culture?

Social resilience refers to the ability of individuals, communities, and societies to withstand and recover from social, economic and environmental shocks and stresses. It involves capacity to adapt and learn from these challenges as well as to maintain or improve social and economic well-being. 

Countries in the Baltic Sea Region differ in size, historic background and cultural heritage, but they all share common challenges such as climate change, urbanization, economic down-turn, segregation, aging society or political tensions that influence our daily lives and require collective action here and now. Therefore, it is important to develop a shared understanding of the importance of social resilience and to work together to strengthen it in the region.

In order to adjust to the challenges and demands of this fast-changing world and make our neighbourhoods more liveable, decision–makers not only have to take good decisions but involve and engage their citizens. We need to be able to solve the problems of today, learn how to turn negative trends and prepare for the unexpected in the future. All together.

Social resilience can be strengthened through a variety of strategies, such as building strong social networks and relationships, investing in education and training, promoting economic diversity and fostering a sense of community ownership and participation. Cultural activities such as music, dance, theatre, and visual arts can bring people together, foster a sense of belonging, and create social connections that can help individuals and communities to weather difficult times.