A unique and forward-thinking agreement has been signed by Manchester and the Danish cities of Aarhus and Aalborg to pave the way for future cultural collaboration, which will focus on arts and health, young people and urban development and design.
The agreement is the result of conversations between the three cities that first got underway last year. The partnership was formalised during a visit to Denmark last week by a cultural contingent from Manchester that included the city's Director of Culture Dave Moutrey, and Alison Clark from Arts Council England.
A Memorandum of Understanding was signed on behalf of the three cities by Councillor Luthfur Rahman, Manchester's Executive Member for Schools, Culture and Leisure as well as Councillor Mads Duedahl, Deputy Mayor for Health and Culture, Aalborg, and Councillor Rabih Azad-Ahmad, Deputy Mayor for Culture and Citizen Service, Aarhus.
Denmark's Minister of Culture Mette Bock also attended the signing along with representatives from Arts Council England, and from the Danish Agency for Culture and Palaces.
This is the first time an official cultural partnership has been forged between cities in Denmark and other countries solely to promote better opportunities for cultural exchange and connections within the fields of music, theatre arts, design and crafts.
The agreement is expected to benefit artists, cultural organisations, and audiences in both Manchester and Denmark.
Councillor Luthfur Rahman said: "Manchester is known across the world as a city that values culture and recognises the benefits to people and place of investing in it.
"We also value the many links we have with other countries and cities outside the UK, and see clearly the benefits that working in partnership with them bring.
"Now more than ever we're determined to strengthen these ties where we can, and we're excited about the benefits this unique cultural agreement we've now got with the Danish cities of Aalborg and Aarhus will bring."
The cultural agreement between the three cities has the support of Arts Council England and has been been welcomed by them.
Alison Clark, North Director and National Combined Arts Director at Arts Council England said: “The success and sustainability of the arts and cultural sector depends on effective partnerships and collaboration – locally, nationally and internationally. Artists, arts organisations and museums in Manchester and across the North have long been involved in international collaboration and exchange which broadens our own experience and culture and gives our nation an international presence.
"At a time when our connections with Europe are under severe pressure, relationships between cities across Europe are more important than ever. In Manchester, international cultural exchange is seen as playing a vital role and the partnership between Manchester, Aalborg and Aarhus brings together powerful cities with powerful agents to learn from each other and also demonstrates the growing significance and status of cities beyond capitals. We look forward to seeing the outcomes that this cultural exchange will achieve in the future.”