Phil Wood

Phil Wood was born in 1959 in Yorkshire, England and has been a freelance urban and cultural policy activist and researcher since 2000. His main interests lie in the application of creativity to the transformation of post-industrial settlements; managing the growing ethnic diversity of cities for creative rather than destructive ends; and the subversive use of public space. He argues that truly sustainable change must go beyond economics, physical infrastructure and superficial image to take account of the deeper emotional and cultural forces which shape a place and its people.

Before going freelance, Phil was the Director of the Creative Town Initiative, a €10 million Urban Pilot Project of the European Commission. He devised a ‘cycle of creativity’ which connected entrepreneurship, creativity and urban regeneration and established a model for smaller cities to thrive in the creative economy. UNESCO described it as the most-cited example of a ‘creative city’ project and it established his home town Huddersfield as a major UK creative hub outside of the big cities. Prior to that, he worked in senior management in British local government, in community development, culture and urban policy.

He has worked in cities throughout Britain but mainly works internationally including Japan, Netherlands, Scandinavia, and many parts of eastern Europe. He is currently principal advisor to the Council of Europe on its transnational Intercultural Cities programme. He is also currently training cultural managers and NGOs in Ukraine and Moldova on behalf of the European Cultural Foundation.

He has advised the UK government’s Creative Industries Task Force and also its Commission on Integration and Cohesion. He has given presentations at international conferences including Creative City South Africa in Johannesburg, Metropolis in Toronto, Feria de los Colores, Sonidos y Sabores in Mexico City, Multicultural Symbiosis in Tokyo, the International Cities, Town Centres & Communities conference in Sydney, and the World Summit on Arts and Culture. To keep his feet on the ground he still tries to stay involved in community development and cultural activity in his home town, where people are not impressed in the slightest by pretentious jet-setters.

He holds a BA in History & Politics and a MA with distinction in European Cultural Planning. His book, The Intercultural City: Planning for Diversity Advantage (co-authored with Charles Landry) was published in 2008 by Earthscan.

In his spare time he enjoys exploring natural and very unnatural landscapes, as a walker and psycho-geographer; as well as creating them through his interest in plants and gardening. He would give everything up tomorrow to become a musician – if he had any talent – but he gains his pleasure vicariously through his daughter who is a professional jazz/dubstep singer and wife who is a textile designer. Despite age, and the embarrassment of those close to him, he can still be found dressing up and dancing frenetically on occasions.

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