Recombining the threads
Robert Manchin opened the session speaking about the risk of preaching to choir; yet the choir also needs to come together, develop a sense of belonging that can lead to common action.
Cristina da Milano spoke about heritage and social innovation, stressing the importance of bottom-up process reliant on cooperation as the latest research and practice on audience development has shown. She regards the EYCH as a wonderful opportunity to frame these issues and to develop an alliance between heritage and social innovation. She highlighted that a recurring concept during the conference was the notion of ‘fear’. However, she noted that cultural operators have shown to be fear-less when confronting social challenges. The same cannot be said from big established institutions, some have been more responsive and responsible than others. Fear needs to be addressed by policy makers and big institutions, and as M Magnier told us, we need a new narrative. CAE can be the voice of this narrative, as a very European network we are united in diversity. She challenged the sector to become louder and speak up.
Lars Ebert was not convinced that we are the converted. When proposed models reinforce the debt-finance, loans and a shift from public funding to bank finance, the resulting landscape is one favouring competition rather than collaboration. Is this really the road to unity? This gives the impression of heading backwards, and we need to progress forward. He highlighted the role of education to endow citizens of critical skills which would be crucial for the future if we aspire to healthy societies. “Learn, learn, and learn”. The session devoted to education showed a high engagement that underlined this triple cri de Coeur. How can education and the arts come together? from early-learning to the highest levels of education, including lifelong learning. We need to educate citizens, for which we need standards, to imbue people with confidence and skills.
Simona Neumann talked about the long-term process of change in cities. It takes ten years minimum to see change. Emina Višnić challenged us to come together, but also to cross disciplinary bridges, arts and science need to look at issues like the sustainability of tourism. Equally important is to recognise the role of young people. Scomodo has managed to transform people’s worst emotions through positive, critical and fun initiatives. The ‘New Europe’ has already been born, and in the West we are seeing the decline of social services, of welfare, is the New Europe a two-tier society?. Political discourse is extremely important. If we look at migration in Europe, we see refugees’ human rights being challenged. What is happening with democracy in Europe? It is as if people have stopped believing in freedom.
Angie Cotte reminded us that citizens are cultural subjects. Artists operate as truth-seekers; when they travel, they look for lost, hidden identities, beyond the dominant political and media discourses. We need writers, translators, poets, histories and her-stories! She recognised that there is a need for more diversity within European cultural networks. She agreed with previous speakers on the need to break bubbles, and build alliances across sectors: culture and environment, culture and trade unions, culture and human rights.