Intercult has summarised The Future of the European Project – a conference on the role of culture in realising the Europe 2020-strategy, with five important lessons from the debate in Sweden to consider in the continued advocacy for a strengthened role of culture in Europe.
1. Dialogue between the EU and the national authorities extremely important
The exchange between Vladimír Šucha, Director for Culture, Multilingualism and Communication,
DG Education and Culture of the European Commission, and Lena Adelsohn Liljeroth, Sweden’s Minister of Culture and Sports, showed many points of common interest. The cultural policy of the EU is not moving in an opposite direction of the Swedish national policy. Rather the different levels can complement and strengthen one another, exactly in the same way as the national cultural policy is not in conflict with the new regional aims in Sweden. Šucha underlined that the EU wants to encourage a new inventiveness when it comes to finding support structures for culture. Liljeroth confirmed that Sweden no longer feels threatened by a European agenda for culture and is ready to cooperate.
2. The regional culture plans may be strengthened
The conference brought to light that the European and even the international perspective will, without a doubt, strengthen the regional culture plans in Sweden and make an enriching of the local cultural life possible. Arts and culture organisations can play an important role in the regional culture plans in order to make the European culture programme and Structural funds relevant and sustainable in the regions.
3. Culture is an issue for all authorities
Culture is an area of policy that is central to development yet often under-financed. It is therefore encouraging that we have realised that dialogue and co-operation on cultural policies no longer should take place in isolation or without making claims on other areas of society. The role and relevance of arts and culture in societal and personal development can only have a real impact in national and European policies if the discussions and decisions are not limited to a specific authority or to the creators themselves.
4. The Swedish culture sector show a strong interest in the European perspective
Most of the major cultural institutions and branch representatives were represented during the debate. This was not the case only a few years ago. And the interest is not simply economic but there is an honest curiosity regarding the international as a part of Swedish cultural life. The world is bigger than Sweden. A hopeful sign in a Europe where reactionary and nationalistic thinking has helped to exclude and repress artistic freedom, freedom of speech and mobility across our borders.
5. Our EU-politicians need an active culture advocacy
The debate showed that discussions with our MEPs about cultural policies need to be intensified. It is necessary to give them the opportunity to encounter an offensive culture advocacy that can help shape a clear political strategy for culture.
This is where our energy must go – to inform and create enthusiasm from politicians for a clear international strategy.
Connecting to the European culture campaign, we are more, it is a must that we act together for a cultural policy within the EU; a policy that contributes to increased engagement, shared resources and free and independent creativity.