BSR Cultural Pearls is a title for smaller towns, cities and municipalities that provides awarded candidates a programme and support strengthening their capacity 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.

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

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

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.

How can BSR Cultural Pearls title and programme support the cities?

Every year authorities of towns, cities, other settlements, municipalities and regions (especially those less central) of the Baltic Sea Region are invited to join us and participate in the process of supporting their communities to become more resilient. The four candidates with the most convincing and impactful action plans developed with the project support during the selection phase are awarded the BSR Cultural Pearls title.

The selection process to become BSR Cultural Pearl consists of two stages: in the pre-selection a number of eligible candidates are selected based on their motivation and general concept. Qualified candidates enter the Action plan development phase. During the development phase candidates develop Culture and Resilience Action Plans (CuReAPs) with access to specifically designed tools and inspirational webinar series as well as support from national mentors. In the final selection process their action plans are assessed by an international jury awarding the title of Cultural Pearl to the four cities with the most convincing action plans.

During the title year all awarded candidates start implementing their Culture and Resilience action plans. BSR Cultural Pearls mentors, together with external experts, guide them through the process, offer capacity building webinars, conferences and study visits while providing funding for external support, including a dedicated mechanism for involving a local CCS actor in the process.

To gain visibility and encourage others, all BSR Cultural Pearls title holders will be showcased across the Baltic Sea Region celebrating the achievements, great ideas and community involvement.

Both awarded authorities and non-selected candidates become a part of the BSR Cultural Pearls network offering the strong collegial network of peers, the access to international contacts and network events to continue strengthening social resilience work in their communities.