Nakskov is located at the South of region Sjælland, 150 km from Copenhagen. Situated at the end of Nakskov Fjord, the town has been an important place for the industrial boom in shipbuilding. However, most shipyards have been 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. That being said, the situation has stabilised within the last few years, with several green tech industries locating in the area to take advantage of cheap facilities and the local skilled labour. Still, Lolland is one of the economically weakest local authorities in the country because the town has a stigmatised reputation as one of Denmark’s most socially challenged towns. Income is lower and life expectancy is shorter than in the general Danish population. Regardless, the surroundings offer some of the most beautiful landscapes in the country and the potential for tourism has yet to be fully exploited.
The population has been declining for two decades, but has now stabilised. Still there are very few young people between 18-30. On the other hand, there is a strong sense of local identity and pride, which might be due to its isolated location. Actually, Nakskov boast more than 200 local associations which are run voluntarily, which emphasises the strong social networks in the town. The town has no major cultural institutions or festivals, and the main cultural activities are primarily performed by amateurs. There are, however, organised concerts and theatre events.
Countering the negative image of the town and the region, particularly in the national media, which has increased over the past decade. This negative picture affects both the self-image in the community and potential investors as well as people, who consider relocating to Nakskov/Lolland. Moreover, the poor physical state of the town must be addressed. Right now, empty buildings, uninteresting public spaces and an empty harbour-front promote an image of depression.
Visions and aims:
- Keeping a balanced community intact
- Reversing the “brain drain” of young people leaving for further education and not returning.
In order to reach these visions, the region of Lolland-Falster needs to attract primarily skilled labour and creatives to initiate starts-ups, alternative energy, bio farming, and other initiatives. 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.
Cultural planning approach:
The “Lovestorm” initiative in 2015 came as a reaction to constant and extremely negative media coverage for more than a decade. It now has 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 muncipality is fully supportive of a cultural planning approach, and it has just published a report on the cultural mapping of the region. Independent plans to restore/refurbish the former Custom Building and surrounding courtyards could provide the key leverage to kick-start a long term culturally led revitalisation. 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.
In addition, the initiative 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. There is also a number of ongoing projects, which can provide a professionally led platform for developing new and more positive regional narratives, based on actively involving the community.