Despite the success and legacy of the 2013 European Capital of Culture season, Košice has been lacking a strong cultural-creative ecosystem and structures of civic engagement. Combined with the absence of specialised training opportunities for young professionals and the brain drain towards Western Slovakia as well as Central and Western Europe, this situation has compromised the development possibilities of Slovakia’s second city.
Furthermore, the lack of appropriate infrastructure to support innovation within the municipality and paucity of data about different uses of the city has restricted the municipality from developing informed and innovative policies for the well-being of citizens. As Marcel Gibóda, Košice’s Deputy Mayor notes, “people in the administration are only asked to complete their daily tasks and they lack time to think about how to improve things in the future.”
Košice 2.0 addresses these challenges by building a “new culture of collaboration towards innovation to increase well-being,” as explained by Michal Hladký, director of CIKE. This requires a new narrative for cultural heritage connecting the cultural and creative industries with digital technologies and the public administration; a creative ecosystem enabling individuals (local government, citizens, NGOs, and businesses) to cooperate; an innovation platform to bring new methodologies into the daily work of the public administration; as well as new organisations to support public officers in making informed decisions.
Košice’s overall goal is the well-being of its residents, a better quality of life supported by evidence and a more inclusive and in-depth public conversation about how Košice would develop: “It’s all about how well people can live in your city, how well they feel. And what the city can do for it by connecting services, and providing services based on innovation, understanding (data) and communication,” underlines Hladký.
This article explores how the project Košice 2.0 has been pursuing its objectives in light of the key principles of Integrated Territorial Development.