Denmark – Lolland-Falster – Nakskov

Urban area:

Nakskov is situated at the Southern extremity of Sjælland, 150 km South of Copenhagen. On the island of Lolland. Its position at the end of the fjord provides a natural harbor, and this has given the town a role as a trading harbor (a.o. ferry connections to Kiel for many years). It has been an important ship building town for hundreds of years. Most shipyards were closed over the last 30 years and since then, the economic decline of the city has resulted in a population reduction and a high level of unemployment. However, the last few years has seen the situation stabilized, with several green tech industries locating in the area to take advantage of cheap facilities but also local skilled labour. Lolland is though one of the economically weakest local authorities in the country. The medieval town centre is intact, but rundown and the town has a stigmatized reputation, as one of Denmark’s most socially challenged towns, with a relatively aging population and unskilled labour force. The surroundings offer some of the most beautiful landscapes and waterscapes in the country and the potential for tourism has yet to be fully exploited.

Population:

The population has been declining for two decades, but has now stabilized, still there are very few young people between 18-30, which is a clear issue for the town, and a generally elderly community with a high level of social dependency. Despite the isolated position of the town, or even because of it, there is a strong sense of local identity and pride. Nakskov can boast more than 200 local associations which are run voluntarily, underlying the strong social networks in the town. The town has no major cultural institutions or festivals, and the main cultural activities are primarily self-organized or are amateur. There are however, touring concerts and theatre events.

Challenges identified:

Countering the negative image of the town and the region, particularly in the national media, which has increased over the past decade, and which affects both the self image in the community and potential investors as well as people, who consider relocation. The poor physical state of the town with empty buildings must be addressed, uninteresting public spaces and empty harbor-front, which promotes and image of depression.

Visions and aims:

Keeping a balanced community intact and reversing the “brain drain” of young people leaving for further education and not returning. To counterbalance this, the region of Lolland-Falster needs to attract primarily skilled labour and creatives to initiate starts ups, alternative energy, bio farming, and other initiatives, which can relocate to the town and use the green and blue resources available in the region. As well as semi retired and singles and couples, attracted by the slow life philosophy, which is possible. The introduction of any attraction, event or place, which provides a reason to visit the town, could provide a common. Attracting investment to the city which can kick start a chain reaction of investment and create synergy. communication platform.

Cultural planning approach:

The “Lovestorm” initiative in 2015 came as a reaction to constant and extremely negative media coverage for more than a decade, has now more than 24,000 followers and is one of the most powerful social movements in Denmark. This could be transformed from a citizens based action program which could signal a radical change in self organisation and citizens led community initiatives. Lolland kommune is fully supportive of a cultural planning approach and has just published a report on the cultural mapping of the region (Lolland). Independent plans to restore / refurbish the former Custom Building and surrounding courtyards could provide the key leverage to kickstart a long term culturally led revitalisation of the town/region. The buildings could both provide facilities for many local relevant organisations, it would link the town to the fjord and the water-landscapes and it would also create attractive public space in the town itself. Finally, it would attract visitors to the town. In many ways, this project is the obvious and ideal scenario for the city and the initaive is backed by the community, the business sector, the council and several leading national foundations. The Museum Lolland Falster is an innovative regional museum with several historic museums and archives in the region of Lolland Falster and also a number of going projects, which could provide a professionally led platform for developing new and more positive regional narratives, based on actively involving the community.