Kathy McArdle, Director England and Global Cities describes the importance of the Festival of the Future City in Bristol.

If you care about the future of cities Bristol is where you want to be from 16 to 18 October 2019. It is an often quoted statistic that by 2050 two thirds of the world’s population will be living in cities and urbanisation is one of the great accelerations of the 21st century. 

As cities get bigger, their populations become ever more diverse. With these changes come new challenges: how can we create infrastructure that supports people to have good quality of life? How can we create spaces for people to get to know each other and come together? What needs to happen to make places where people thrive and live fulfilled lives and get decent work?

Graphic image of the festival of the future city.
A visual imagining of the Festival of the Future City by Miles Tewson. The festival commissions young designers each year to capture the spirit of the city and the festival. ©

Miles Tewson

The British Council has done some thinking around these questions and defined our vision for the cities where we work. We want them to be ‘prosperous, peaceful and equitable’ places. This can only happen with great civic leadership, a cross-sector and interdisciplinary approach and a tremendous amount of imagination and creativity to develop the solutions we need to be able to live together in these new urban metropolises. Our work connecting cities around the world to the UK focuses on developing leaders and agents of change in the city, skills development, creating more equal societies and connecting cities with each other for learning and knowledge-sharing. 

Bristol is a unique city in the UK, with an extraordinary history of social innovation, which finds an authentic voice in the Festival of the Future City, now in its third edition. 

This years festival explores innovation in housing (how can we ensure everyone has access to a decent home?), the contemporary resonance of the Bauhaus movement, the role of culture in cities and placemaking more generally, and the importance of diversity, race and migration in shaping the identities of cities. Over all of this hangs the big city questions which need big city thinking, our climate emergency and our relationship to the planet and its natural resources. The programme is populated with all kinds of luminaries from the cultural, political, urbanist, ecological and sociological spheres and it’s almost impossible to decide which talks, events, exhibitions and shows to visit. 

We are proud to be the International partner for the festival and look forward to seeing you there.