Malmö’s Skate SceneFebruary 21, 2017
We recently caught up with an American who visited Malmö during a European skateboarding trip and learned the city is becoming one of the largest, go-to skate destinations in the world.
Malmö wasn’t always the skate mecca of Sweden. Until recent years, the city lacked architecture to skate and a positive attitude toward the sport. But collaborative efforts between local skaters and the city have led to hosting more worldwide competitions and the creation of a skateboarding coordinator, a position held by Gustav Edén. In just a few short years, skate parks and skate spots have more than doubled, and skateboarding even has been added to the curriculum at Bryggeriet school, according to Edén.
We checked in with Edén to learn about his position, the success he’s seen since filling the role and plans for Malmö’s skate scene in 2017.
When did you become the official skateboarding coordinator for the city of Malmö?
My predecessor Erik Löfvander worked for the events department at the City of Malmö when Quicksilver moved their Bowlriders’ competition from Marseille to Malmö. He was a catalyst in developing a more encompassing collaboration with the skaters, and he held that position for eight years. In 2013, he was looking to move into another role, and I was headhunted for the position. I worked as Erik’s assistant for a year before taking over in 2014. At this time, the Streets and Parks Department was going through a reorganization and, as the skateboarding program had developed to involve more than just the events, a dedicated skateboarding coordinator position was created.
What are your main responsibilities as the skateboarding coordinator?
I am the project manager for the skateboard events in Malmö, which for 2017 involve the Park Series stop for the EMEA (Europe, Middle East and Africa), which will be held May 27. Also, we host Skate Malmö: Street, which is a street competition that moves around different street spots in the city and where we have a particular focus on gender equality. Further, my role involves collaborating with the local skate scene for various initiatives to help develop Malmö as a skate city. It may involve developing new spots, supporting visiting tours or media initiatives that will expose Malmö as a skateboarding destination internationally.
Where is your favorite place to skate in Malmö?
Probably ‘Svampen’ by Konsthallstorget. It’s the local go-to and like any such spot becomes a bit like a vortex – impossible to leave.
Why do you think skateboarding is such an important part of the culture in Malmö?
It wasn’t always. Malmö definitely did not have the qualities traditionally associated with good cities for skateboarding in the past. What built the Malmö scene is a fortunate combination of the local skaters’ organization and drive and the city having the foresight and faith to support them. One crucial driver has been the skaters pushing to take the next step while understanding the need to be a good partner to the city. The other factor is the city having the vision to see the potential in skating as a new type of activity and trusting the skaters’ subcultural competence. To let them do it their way, while ensuring the best interest for the citizens of Malmö overall.
What are you plans to increase skateboard culture in 2017?
We have quite a lot of spots. We can always do more, and I would like to see skateboarding and other activities being integrated from the planning stage more, but this will happen in time. For us, the most pressing issues are reaching new parts of the city and different demographics to add diversity into the sport. We see massive potential in the suburbs and with young women. Female skating is already growing massively, so, we need to reach new areas, get more people into skating and build the platform that skateboarding in Malmö is even stronger.
How are you getting the word out about Malmö’s efforts to increase skate culture?
We have been given a lot of exposure from the events, but also from my position, which is getting attention such as our current business. In terms of our communication strategy, we have a communications team and actively promote stories concerning Malmö and skateboarding, the events etc. We have also established the media platform www.skatemalmo.com, which is a portal into everything concerning our events and what you may need if you are visiting Malmö as a skateboarder.
Do you work closely with other private organizations, skateboarding groups, etc?
We work very closely with the local skateboarding organization Bryggeriet, local skate shops and local companies. Further, we have strong links to the global skate industry and other skateboarding institutions. Aside from that, let’s not forget that we work from the platform of the City of Malmö, meaning we have good access to the networks of the city.