Everyone has the right freely to participate in the cultural life of the community, to enjoy the arts, to share in scientific advancement and its benefits.

Article 27, The Universal Declaration of Human Rights

We suggest you read the Why section, if you haven’t already done so


We, the people, are the city. Through our beliefs, values and creative activities – our culture – we shape the city of stones and dreams. For better and for worse, it is the embodiment of our individual and shared imagination. Our city must support every inhabitant to develop their human potential and contribute to the communities of which all are part.

Culture is the expression of values, a common, renewable resource in which we meet one another, learn what can unite us and how to engage with differences in a shared space. Those differences exist within and between cultures. They must be acknowledged and engaged with. An inclusive, democratic, sustainable city enables that process, and is strengthened by it too. Culture is the creative workshop with which citizens can imagine responses to our common challenges. Sometimes it is a solution, sometimes it is how we discover other solutions.

The 2020 Rome Charter is published at a dark and uncertain time. The COVID-19 crisis shows that the current development models and their basic assumptions need to be rethought. It also shows that a real spirit of cultural democracy must shape the new models if they are to be inclusive and sustainable. The Charter is a promise to the people of Rome – and to all the world’s cities. Placing our common and living cultures at the centre of the definition of the new models will not be simple, but it is how we will recover and rebuild our lives, together.

Cultural Capabilities

Public authorities, national and local governments, have legal duties in respect of participation in culture, enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and other international treaties and conventions. Together with every player, they must put in place effective policies and adequate resources to meet those obligations, or their promises are mere rhetoric.

A city working towards cultural democracy fulfils its duty to support its inhabitants to:

DISCOVER cultural roots, so that they can recognise their heritage, identity and place in the city, as well as understand the contexts of others;

CREATE cultural expressions, so that they can be part of and enrich the life of the city;

SHARE cultures and creativity, so that social and democratic life is deepened by the exchange;

ENJOY the city’s cultural resources and spaces, so that all can be inspired, educated and refreshed;

PROTECT the city’s common cultural resources, so that all can benefit from them, today and in years to come.

The 2020 Rome Charter imagines a more inclusive, democratic and sustainable city. Its achievement is in the hands of all who live here.



The cultural capabilities key words are all verbs – actions: we suggest to follow a cyclical progression for a bottom-up, people-centred approach

cultural roots, so that we can own our heritage, identity and place in the city
Everyone has their own heritage, personal and shared, the legacy that comes from their family, community, body, time etc.; it is also important we have the capacity to understand others’ contexts, roots and narratives

our own cultural activity, so that it can be part of and enrich the life of the city
Participation in cultural life includes the capacity for creation – having the means, the resources, the training, the education, the time to make our own artistic work, whether it is singing, dancing, needlework or writing our own computer game or imagining another future

cultures and creativity, so that social and democratic life is enriched by exchange
And if I am a creator, I have the right and capacity to share my creations with anybody who’s interested, who’s open to listening, seeing, talking and criticising my work. It doesn’t mean everything is of equal value – it means that you accept everything as having the right to be there so that it can be liked or not liked

all the city’s cultural resources, so that they can be inspired, educated and refreshed
Access to culture – the friends we choose – is how we develop the capacity to know what we like and don’t like, how we choose to define our values and shape our future identity. I may inherit one culture but I choose to be a rapper or an opera singer and unless my culture gives me pleasure – inspires and refreshes me – what is it worth?

the city’s common cultural resources, so that all can benefit from them, now and in future
We must have the capacity to cherish all cultures, teach them, pass them on, and prevent them from being destroyed deliberately or by neglect.
It is like biodiversity, the whole ecology needs protecting because it is interdependent and you never know who will want what or when.


Working with 2020 Rome Charter Read more>