In 2015 City Council requested that the City Manager coordinate with appropriate City divisions and cultural agencies across the City to seek to have the City of Toronto designated a UNESCO Creative City, a process which has culminated in this application.
Over the 2000s, Toronto initiated and instituted a process of cultivating itself as a creative city.
This bid to join UNESCO's Creative Cities Network reflects Toronto's global leadership in advancing the concept of creative cities.
The Creative City: A Workprint
When Toronto was amalgamated in 1998, the newly formed City of Toronto Council requested that a Culture Plan be drafted to help guide the city's cultural development for the next decade.
The Creative City: A Workprint provided the foundation for public consultation and engagement; it called for Toronto to use its arts, culture and heritage assets to position itself as a Creative City, a global cultural capital.
Culture Plan for the Creative City
Adopted by City Council in 2003, Culture Plan for the Creative City is a 10-year strategy outlining 63 recommendations aimed at positioning Toronto as an international cultural capital and placing culture at the heart of the city's economic and social agenda.
During 2001 and 2002, Toronto Culture held numerous public meetings and focus groups across the city with stakeholders and interested citizens.
Creative City Planning Framework
The Creative City Planning Framework was developed as a major supporting document for the Mayor's economic development strategy, the Agenda for Prosperity (2008).
The document argues that in order to compete for top talent in the international labour market, Toronto can gain a competitive advantage by maintaining robust cultural and creative industries.
A cultural planning model that leverages the connections between place, culture and the economy, encourages investment in emerging sectors and nurtures creative hubs and districts in the city.
Creative Capital Gains
In 2011, the City Council adopted the Creative Capital Gains: an Action Plan for Toronto, to enhance Toronto’s place as a leading international cultural centre and increase the role of creativity in the economic and social development of the city.
Creative Capital Gains, building upon the work of Toronto's cultural plans which preceded it, included among its five key recommendations that: "…the City promote its cultural institutions, festivals and other assets to enhance its position as a Creative City regionally, nationally, and internationally."
City of Toronto Strategic Actions
All of these actions serve the City's broader strategic action plan 2013 – 2018 adopted by City Council in 2013, to "Invest in Culture" as strategic action for City-building:
Strategic Action #2: Invest in Culture
Implement the arts and culture strategic plan, Creative Capital Gains, by 2017 to create a more vibrant cultural sector to increase employment in the arts, to improve the liveability of the city and to make Toronto a larger presence on the world stage.
June 2015 / Motion by City Council MM7.13
April 2017 / Report for Action ED21.3
April 2017 the General Manager, Economic Development and Culture, recommends that City Council direct the General Manager, Economic Development and Culture, to submit an application to designate Toronto as a UNESCO Creative City of Media Arts.
May 2017 / City Council Decision Action ED21.3
City Council on May 24, 25 and 26, 2017, adopted without amendments the following item: Bid to Designate Toronto as a United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) Creative City of Media Arts.
October 2017 / Toronto designated a UNESCO Creative City
64 cities from 44 countries have been designated as UNESCO Creative Cities by Director-General, Irina Bokova. They join a Network at the frontline of UNESCO’s efforts to foster innovation and creativity as key drivers for a more sustainable and inclusive urban development.