World’s most cultured cities

World’s most cultured cities

Tokyoites borrow the most library books, Parisians are movie-obsessed and other cultural snapshots of the world's biggest cities
Do art exhibitions make a city brighter? London's Royal Academy gives it a shot.

Which city has the most nightclubs?

Which the most greenery?

Where should you go if you want to eat at a different restaurant every meal, forever?

The answers are São Paulo, Singapore and Tokyo, respectively. 

But there's much more to be gleaned from the recently released World Cities Culture Report, published under the auspices of the mayor of London, Boris Johnson, which looks at cultural indicators in 12 of the world's largest metro areas.

Berlin, Istanbul, Johannesburg, London, Mumbai, New York, Paris, São Paulo, Shanghai, Singapore, Sydney and Tokyo are the subjects of the report, “an unprecedented global collaboration to examine the character and importance of culture in world cities,” Johnson said.

Each city was studied according to six themes: cultural heritage, literary culture, film and games, performing arts, people and talent, and cultural diversity.

Scroll down for some of the more interesting findings.


Cultural heritage

Cultural HeritageLondon's V&A Museum. Cultured cities like to put things on walls.

According to the report, “visual art is a field which seems to be unusually concentrated in the world’s leading cities.”

Highest number of national museums: Shanghai (27); Paris (24); Berlin (18)

Highest number of other museums: London (162); Berlin (140); New York (126)

Highest percentage of residents attending museums and galleries: London (53.6 percent); Shanghai (47.5 percent); Paris (43 percent)

Highest number of UNESCO World Heritage Sites: London (4); Paris (4); Berlin (3)

Highest percentage of public green spaces: Singapore (47 percent); Sydney (46 percent); London (38.4 percent)

Literary culture

Literary CultureThe Vivienne Galerie, Paris. A bibliotheque bonanza.
Literary culture “contributed to a more urban world, by spurring revolutions in thinking about politics, religion and social attitudes,” the report says.

Highest number of public libraries: Paris (830); Shanghai (477); London (383)

Highest number of library book loans (in millions): Tokyo (112.2); New York (68); Shanghai (58.7)

Highest number of bookshops: Tokyo (1,675); Shanghai (1,322); Paris (1,025)

Highest number of rare and second-hand bookshops: Johannesburg (943); Tokyo (681); Shanghai (343)

Highest number of book titles published in the country: Shanghai (328,387); New York (302,410); London (151,969)

Film and games

Film and gamesShanghai movie-goers decide which film to see, and which cinema too.
This set of indicators shows that cinema has a lot to do with the evolution of a great city.

Highest number of cinemas: Paris (302); Shanghai (230); Istanbul (118)

Highest number of cinema admissions (in millions): Paris (58.2); London (41.6); Shanghai (22.9)

Highest number of foreign films released theatrically: London (438); Tokyo (358); Berlin (315)

Highest number of film festivals: Paris (190); London (61); New York (57)

Highest number of video games arcades: Tokyo (997); Shanghai (587); Mumbai (278)

Performing arts

Performing ArtsThe English National Ballet tries to keep up with New York.
The report says, “These art forms are in some respects the essence of urban culture, as they
 only flourish where people with artistic talent
 and technical skills can be brought together with audiences large enough to support their activities.”

Highest number of theaters: New York (420), Paris (353); Tokyo (230)

Highest number of theater performances: New York (43,004); London (32,448); Paris (26,676)

Highest number of major concert halls: New York (15); Paris (15); Tokyo (15)

Highest number of music performances: Paris (33,020); New York (22,204); London (17,108)

Highest number of comedy performances: London (11,388); New York (11,076); Paris (10,348)

Cultural diversity

sao pulo clubbingSão Paulo's clubbers -- keeping the buzz alive.

Here, the report says it is measuring the “street life” or the “buzz” of a city. “Buzz matters because it shapes many of the perceptions of a city for residents 
and tourists alike, and it may also have beneficial economic effects."

Highest number of nightclubs, discos and dance halls: São Paulo (2,000); Shanghai (1,865); New York (584)

Highest number of restaurants: Tokyo (150,510); Shanghai (55,614); London (37,450)

Highest number of festivals/celebrations: Tokyo (485); Paris (360); Sydney (312)

Highest number of international students: London (99,360); Paris (96,782); Singapore (91,500)

Highest number of international tourists (in millions): London (15.2); Paris (13.3); Singapore (11.6)

Highest percentage of foreign-born population: New York (36.8 percent); London (30.8 percent); Singapore (26.9 percent)

People and talent

People and talentThe future's bright, once they change out of their robes.

A city lives because of the people within it, and this set of indicators measures how cities invest in their human resource “and their openness to the ideas and energy new people can bring.”

Highest number of specialist public cultural higher education establishments: Paris (30); Mumbai (18); London (11)

Highest number of specialist private cultural higher education establishments: Paris (73); London (46); Johannesburg (24)

Highest number of students at specialist public art and design institutions: London (34,920); Tokyo (24,120); Sydney (15,571)

Highest number of students of art and design degree courses at generalist universities: Shanghai (43,501); Tokyo (25,444); London (15,745)

Niña Terol-Zialcita describes herself as a “communicator, connector, idea curator and changemaker.” She writes on art, culture, travel, and politics and is deputy editor of the award-winning socio-political blog, Her latest book is entitled “[r]evolutionaries: The next generation of Filipino youth and youth organizations.”

Read more about Niña Terol-Zialcita