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HWWI/Berenberg City Culture Ranking 2016

Stuttgart remains cultural capital 
Munich and Dresden make up ground 

 

  • Stuttgart, Munich, Dresden, Berlin and Bonn again form the top five 
  • Nuremberg and Hanover made the biggest advances in 2016 
  • Wuppertal, Gelsenkirchen, Mönchengladbach and Duisburg once more prop up the table 

 

Hamburg. For a third time after 2012 and 2014, the Hamburg Institute of International Economics (HWWI) and private bank Berenberg have analysed the cultural lives of the 30 biggest cities in Germany. The outcome: Stuttgart has been named Germany’s leading cultural centre for the third time. Munich and Dresden follow a short distance behind the table-topper, with Berlin and Bonn in places four and five. Nuremberg and Hanover made the biggest jumps up this year’s ranking, both improving an impressive seven places, while the cities of Wuppertal, Gelsenkirchen, Mönchengladbach and Duisburg in North Rhine-Westphalia are again to be found at the bottom of the list.

 

The image and appeal of a given city are determined to a large extent by how attractive and diverse its cultural landscape is. “The culture industry is an important sector of the local economy and a significant factor driving the dynamic development of a given city,” states Dr. Hans-Walter Peters, Spokesman for the Managing Partners of Berenberg. “It’s in cities that culture is created and consumed. It attracts above all highly trained and creative people and is also a key decision factor when choosing where to live and work. It affects the positioning of cities against their peers,” says Peters.  

The culture industry is a major employer in many of the 30 biggest cities. In the four German agglomerations with a population in excess of one million, 5.0% of people in gainful employment in Berlin work in this sector, 5.1% in Hamburg, 5.9% in Cologne and 7.0% in Munich, and the numbers are growing. Stuttgart is top of the class with 7.6%. City and cultural tourism are also expanding constantly. In many cases, the demand from residents and tourists alike is having a positive impact on economic development in areas outside the culture industry as well. “Investment in cultural infrastructure and cultural institutions with broader geographical appeal can help to trigger structural change in cities,” states Peters. 

The ranking
The HWWI/Berenberg City Culture Ranking looks at the varied significance of the cultural climate for urban development and compares numerous aspects of culture production and reception. In this context, culture production relates to underlying elements and principles essential for the emergence of art and culture, like the availability of opera houses, theatres, museums and cinema seats, cultural education establishments, music and art academies, and the proportion of people working in the culture industry. Culture reception reflects how the city’s inhabitants and visitors affect the approval of, and demand for, its cultural offering. Among other things, it is seen in the number of visitors to theatres and museums and the revenues generated by the culture industry. The ranking measures selected aspects of culture using indicators that are available for all 30 cities. It does not make any judgements about the quality or scope of the offerings and establishments. Awards received by theatres are no more included than any appraisals of the art collections held by individual museums. 

The outcome
The city culture comparison reveals major differences in terms of the cultural landscape in German metropolitan areas. “The five best-placed cities demonstrate good conditions in terms of both culture production and reception, showing how well established cultural diversity is in these cases,” says HWWI economist Dörte Nitt-Drießelmann. 

Stuttgart once more scores well in the comparison with a large culture offer (first place in culture production) and strong demand for culture (third place in culture reception). “Be it in current spending on libraries (first place), the number of seats in opera houses and theatres (first place) or the number of people attending the theatre (second place) – Stuttgart again achieves top spots,” is how Nitt-Drießelmann explains the good performance of the Swabian metropolis. “In addition, the proportion of people working in the culture industry in Stuttgart is the highest of any in the ranking. The revenues per inhabitant are only just behind those of best-in-class Cologne.” 

Munich has closed the gap somewhat on Stuttgart in this year’s ranking. The runner-up in the comparison leads the field in terms of culture reception while achieving sixth place in culture production. The capital of Bavaria scores particularly well for demand from festival visitors, library users and the number of galleries and auction houses (second place in each case). And the Bavarian capital also comes in second for the proportion of both people and companies working in this sector. 

The biggest German cities are also particularly attractive for creative types. With over 37,000 artists, fourth-placed Berlin has the highest density (artists per inhabitant) in relative terms, followed by Cologne, Munich and Hamburg. Added to this are a further 65,000 people working in the culture industry. The German capital also leads the field in terms of the proportion of companies operating in the culture industry ahead of Munich, Cologne and Stuttgart. In terms of revenues per inhabitant, however, Berlin is only in mid-table. 

The comparison shows that it’s not just the biggest German towns that occupy the leading places in the ranking with their cultural offering; a diverse cultural life can also be found in medium-sized cities like Dresden (3rd place) and Bonn (5th place). Dresden stands out with the most visitors to the theatre, opera and museums, and is in first place for cinema seats and second place for conservation. Bonn, on the other hand, boasts the biggest exhibition offer per inhabitant in museums. In terms of theatre and opera seats, and the number of theatre and museum visitors, the former federal capital comes in third place. 

The biggest jumps up the culture league table were made by Nuremberg and Hanover, both climbing seven places up the overall ranking – to tenth and fourteenth respectively. Nuremberg improved by seven places in terms of production and five in terms of reception. Hanover achieved its big advance by making up twelve places in culture production and two places in culture reception. 

The HWWI’s Nitt-Drießelmann summarizes: “What can be seen above all else is that ‘expanding cities’ are demonstrating strong demand for culture and providing a broad culture offering. Cultural diversity determines how attractive a city is and draws people in.” 

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