Cultural diversity in cities is a major attraction that draws people to cities. According to Walter Siebel, it is the culture – and not social, economic or administrative structures – that differentiates the (European) city from rural areas.
“Art is the daughter of freedom” (Schiller) – art and culture open up new worlds. Urban culture is an indispensable health resource for city dwellers. Cultural institutions and initiatives promote the discussion of important issues pertaining to society and social diversity. They serve as meeting places and foster social interaction. These institutions include large, state theatres, opera houses, museums and festivals as well as smaller, private exhibitions and venues, collections, galleries, cabarets, neighbourhood cultural projects, choirs, orchestras and cinemas. Cultural sites and monuments that showcase the historical development of a city and stimulate cultural encounters with it also promote the appropriation of the city as a living space that creates identity. Art is a source of inspiration and cultural institutions stimulate the social cohesion of the urban population and counteract social isolation. They can also be key drivers of social integration for newcomers.
A diverse cultural programme in the city arouses the curiosity of many different people and enables them to physically and cognitively encounter things that are new or unfamiliar. Culture can therefore be regarded as a tool that promotes an individual’s psychological flexibility. On the other hand, the cultural and social diversity of a city promotes its unique artistic productivity.