In June 2019, the International Public Markets Conference marked its 10th edition in London, UK. The conference, co-hosted by Project for Public Spaces and the Mayor of London, came at a particularly exciting time for the city, which recently set a new standard with a city-wide markets policy, transforming the way the city supports and maintains its growing network of markets.
The Mayor of London Sadiq Khan welcomed attendees representing 36 countries and 115 cities, and over the course of three days, they witnessed the Mayor’s groundbreaking policy in action. The program offered a guided exploration of London’s evolving markets, which balance continued innovation with a millennium worth of history. The conference provided an up-close look at how markets of all scales can improve community-level outcomes, from health to entrepreneurship. More than 300 market operators, developers, and thought leaders discussed how markets can support their communities, foster inclusion, and drive economic opportunity.
Over 300 of the world’s leading public market operators, developers and thought-leaders traveled to the conference from 115 cities and 36 countries.
The 10th International Public Markets Conference also marked the creation of a Market Cities initiative at Project for Public Spaces. PPS has been supporting public markets through education and technical assistance for more than 30 years, training market managers and vendors, conducting visioning processes and feasibility assessments, and constructing business plans tailored to new and existing public markets. Now, that work is scaling up to the regional level, with Project for Public Spaces working to create robust networks of markets in cities across the world. Through public engagement, strategies for management and governance, and analysis of market systems, the Market Cities initiative will support new and growing networks of public markets.
Opening Plenary, Southwark Cathedral
Breakout sessions at the conference engaged participants on topics like markets as incubators for entrepreneurship, data-driven advocacy, and the power of using placemaking to make markets into community destinations. Attendees discussed markets through the lens of inclusion and health, and exchanged ideas about how markets can maintain authenticity while adapting to changing trends and community needs. Speakers like London’s Night Czar, Amy Lamé, also covered the importance of markets in supporting a growing night time economy.
Digging deeper, participants attended various “unconferences” at City Hall, workshopping ideas on everything from how markets can adapt to the climate crisis to thoughtful approaches to market security. A farmers market in Delaware shared thoughts on the value of sales-boosting experimentation in a farmers market, while delegates from New York City discussed using markets to build resilience after Hurricane Sandy. In the context of these collaborative talks, attendees highlighted their broad range of experiences in designing, managing, and programming markets, ultimately creating a set of exciting new approaches to shared challenges.
Conference sessions, mobile workshops, and tours
Building on the conversations from panel and unconference sessions, participants toured markets across London, from Brixton Market in Lambeth to Surrey Street Market in Croydon. The tours gave way to in-depth conversations on the impacts of tourism, the role of public-private partnerships, and best practices for revitalizing historic markets. By exploring London through the lens of its incredibly diverse public markets, participants were able to take away new strategies and approaches to use in their own markets work.
The 10th International Public Markets Conference built on the momentum of London’s growing markets network to kickstart a conversation about how markets can continue to grow and serve their communities.
Conference parties and market tours
Hosting the 10th International Public Markets Conference was a stimulating and productive opportunity for our city raising the profile and potential of markets at the highest levels. ... It was a fantastic way to expand our global networks, to share our challenges, learn from each other, and exchange best practices. The connections we made through the conference planning process have uncovered ambitious plans for markets across the city, are informing the strategic focus of the London Markets Board, and will benefit our work for years to come.
— Louise Duggan, Area Manager, Regeneration and Economic Development, Greater London Authority