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Handle with Care: Culture for Social Well-being
Mystery 79 Beyond the Obvious 2023

Elefsina, Greece 6-10 June 2023



What is it about?

Handle with Care | Culture for Social Well-being is the 2023 edition of Culture Action Europe’s Beyond the Obvious gathering. This international get-together invites practitioners, organisations and institutions, policy-makers, thinkers, researchers, activists and artivists from the cultural, social and health sectors working on topics related to care, well-being, health and culture. Handle with Care | Culture for Social Well-being will take place in Elefsina, Greece from 7 to 10 June 2023. Culture Action Europe members are invited to join the informal gathering on the evening of 6 June.


It is co-organised by Culture Action Europe, 2023 Eleusis European Capital of Culture, the CultureForHealth project and is co-financed by the European Union


The multitude of crises our societies are facing today, including the climate and social injustice, wars, pandemic, economic and political upheavals in and beyond Europe, requires an urgent cultural response: a response rooted in care for the planet and communities, care for each other. To navigate these uncertainties, we are in search of a compass, a sense of direction towards a sustainable, democratic, caring future. The Handle with Care | Culture for Social Well-being gathering aims to collectively explore the significance of care as an ethical and political obligation for our societies and the role culture and cultural professionals can play in this. It will specifically discuss the evidence on the role of culture in improving health and well-being. How can culture and participation in the cultural life of communities nourish the sense of social and individual well-being? 

Handle with Care | Culture for Social Well-being gathering will also have a special focus on the CultureForHealth project. The project implements the EU Preparatory Action “Bottom-Up Policy Development for Culture & Well-being in the EU” and has the ambition to trigger a true policy change in the EU by bringing closer the health, cultural and social policies. It aims to facilitate the exchange of knowledge and experience in the EU related to the role of culture for well-being and health, map the most relevant existing practices, carry out small-scale pilots and provide a set of policy recommendations.

Lars Ebert, Secretary General of Culture Action Europe (CAE): “The 2023 edition of Beyond the Obvious gathering focuses on urgent topics of well-being, mental, social and planetary health and ethics of care. While discussing the evidence of the role of culture in improving health and well-being, this international “unconference” also creates spaces to talk about the politics of well-living and care, including health, well-being and labour conditions in the cultural field. We are delighted to be debating care for community and care for the planet in Elefsina, which is the European Capital of Culture in 2023, a focal point of our (post-)industrial realities and birthplace of the ancient Greek myth of Demeter, goddess of agriculture and fertility of the land and her daughter, Persephone. A story about love, care and longing.”

Mihail Marmarinos, General Artistic Director (2023 Eleusis): “We are delighted to be hosting “Handle with Care: Culture for Social Well-being” in the city of Elefsina, a place of cruel and mindless industrial development where the term care had been violently renounced over decades. On the other hand, the critical contribution – the big challenge – of art and culture can operate as a constructive and inspiring current reconciliation of communities with those hurtful issues. Culture heals the earth and the soul. I would like here to reveal a direct aspect through a synonym to the word care : that one of respect. Respecting the planet, respecting nature, respecting the landscape, respecting the other. Culturally speaking, the unveiling of a synonym within the language may trigger connotations and as a consequence may expand the possibilities of consciousness and the reception of reality.  On this occasion, I would like to welcome you in Elefsina, a latitude where the term care – as previously described – remains an open and dynamic challenge.”

Different takes on care online talks
Take one with Jill K. Sonke, Darren Abrahams and Burak Sayin

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