Ποιειν Και Πραττειν - create and do

ECCM Symposium "Productivity of Culture" and Kids' Guernica Exhibition, Athens 2007

Greek Version (PDF)

October 17th - 19th 2007

Venue: Zappeion Megaron - Athens - Greece

See main website for the Symposium:



ECCM Symposium Athens 2007                  Photo: Kostas Kartelias

The ECCM Symposium "Productivity of Culture" followed the first ECCM Symposium which took place in Athens 2005.

ECCM was the former network of European Cultural Capitals and Months. It was dissolved in 2009. Part of its documents and materials are now to be found at the Documentation Center for European Capitals of Culture under the auspices of the City of Athens:


Discussion paper by Spyros Mercouris

At the outset of the symposium there was made available a discussion paper by Spyros Mercouris. It was intended to help shape the Second Symposium of the ECCM organised by the ECCM Network in Athens Oct. 18 - 22, 2007. It was written in response to the Study by KEA about the changing relationship between culture and economy in Europe and subsequently published by the European Commission. Ongoing discussions about the importance of culture within Europe reflect different strands (e.g. UNESCO on 'cultural diversity', 'Soul for Europe' as a way to 'brand' culture as European, and the EU Germany conference 'Culture makes Europe / Kultur macht Europa' in Berlin, June 2007). It amounts to further going attempts to help clarify the role culture can play for the economy while equally some recent studies started to modify the sometimes too high expectations that culture could become a key economic factor. The ECCM Network and the Network of Networks aimed with the symposium 'Productivity of Culture' to argue for safeguarding an independence of culture besides economic considerations while expressing at the same time an interest to develop further an urban based cultural policy with a global dimension. After all the concept of having since 1985 on a yearly basis cities designated as being European Cultural Capital Cities is one of the most successful projects of the European Union.

For Study on 'culture and economy' go to: "The economy of culture in Europe"

ECCM Symposium: Productivity of Culture

The focus of the Symposium was on cultural policy, the role of cultural institutions, dialogue between cultures, cultural planning and on the relationship between economy and culture. A crucial topic would have been whether or cities, in particular those designated to become European Capitals of Culture can become responsive to the global challenges to culture?

Michael D. Higgins stressed the need to create public space for artistic creativity and upholding integrity of memory since every culture is only substantial as long it is authentic.

When examining the role of culture, this has to be understood as to what function the Parliament of Culture has in Europe as much as what new role museums play in an increasingly dynamic cultural sector.

A specific tool in need to be refined further was addressed in the session on cultural planning. Various examples were given, for instance, by Bart Verschaffel, Diane Dodd, Deniz Hasirzi and Anna Arvanitaki. All described in various ways what huge gap still exists between the need to take culture into further consideration and under what conditions urban and regional planning unfolds or else is implemented within a given legislative and structural framework.

The Symposium meant furthermore examining the relationship between 'culture and economy'. Krimpas spoke about working within the limits set by the economy while Bernd Fessel from Ruhr 2010 illustrated how new innovative networks in the private sector can be founded and promoted. Hatto Fischer described the philosophical premises for the cultural economy in the making by reminding what Marx had identified already as condition for human self consciousness, namely the bringing together categories of both creativity and productivity in forming the languages people use to address each other.

Given the current situation in the world, the Symposium examined as well what are the chances for a dialogue between cultures to overcome misunderstandings and even the situation of no dialogue being possible. Prof. Kacem doubted very much the dialogue between cultures being still possible.

The thematic questions were then taken further by listening to the presentation of four European Capitals of Culture: Sibiu 2007, Liverpool 2008, Istanbul 2010 and Turku 2011.

The Symposium concluded by discussing the conditions within current networks linked to Capitals of Culture such as the University Network of European Capitals of Culture and under what conditions it would be possible to envision a 'Network of Networks'.

Purpose and highlights

The purpose of the Symposium was to illustrate that the ECCM Network was still active and looking forward to playing a role in Europe when it comes to the transmission of knowledge from former to current and future European Capitals of Culture. At the same time, it wanted to focus on the 'network of networks', that is how this concept of designating a city to become a Cultural Capital was being implemented in Canada, United States, Latin America, Arabic countries and most likely in Africa as well. However, the ECCM network could not get out of the crisis it found itself in since Patras 2006 and despite two meetings preceeding the Symposium in Athens, namely a quasi General Assembly meeting first in Brussels, January 2007 and in Sibiu at the end of September 2007. This is all the more a pity as the very theme 'productivity of culture' as proposed by Spyros Mercouris was both innovative and forward looking.

Several points could be underlined to take the inspiration of the ECCM Symposium 'Productivity of Culture' further:

1) There have come into existence so many new ways of networking in-between different levels, actors, institutions and ongoing actions even by schools, universities and political authorities, that it meant for participants of the Symposium "Productivity of Culture" to seek a global 'network of networks' to link cities with culture and what different experiences could be made when designated as such to focus on cultural experiences at global level.

2) The ECCM Symposium started to look at cultural planning as a new tool. It can involve children when creating more than a playground a new learning environment which is sensitive to the needs of what younger generations need to prepare themselves for the future. This was exemplified by Deniz Hasirci from Izmir, Turkey. Crucial was, however, the point made by Bart Verschaffel, namely that creativity cannot be planned for; only the conditions to be receptive for creative impulses can be created in a certain way. To illustrate that point he distinguished between growing oranges and picking them.

For his paper see:


3) Productivity of culture can mean alternative forms of communication and bring about what de la Croix outlined as the basics for a new 'productivity of diplomacy'.

Guy Feaux de la Croix                   Photo: Kostas Kartelias

If based on further going reflections how to create conditions of moral solidarity with others, and if combined with what Kids' Guernica stresses, namely the freeing of the imagination in adults so that they can develop empathy for others who find themselves in particular in distress and conflict ridden areas like Dafur, Afghanistan, Iraq etc., then this could feed into the dialogue between cultures in a most fruitful and peaceful way.

Kids' Guernica exhibition and experiences

A key highlight was the exhibition of peace murals and narratives told by coordinators (e.g. Asit Poddar how the Blind Boys created such a mural) the Kids' Guernica experiences and its art of network. Takuya Kaneda, international coordinator of Kids' Guernica in Japan would say networking depends upon face to face contact and a bottom-up movement which is free of hierarchical structures.

Kids' Guernica Exhibition     Photo: Kostas Kartelias

The Kids' Guernica exhibition at the Zappeion grounds displayed children's peace murals the size of Picasso's Guernica (7,8 x 3,5 m). One of these paintings was be done by children from Chios and from Izmir, Turkey to underline the theme of the Symposium focusing on dialogue between cultures.

Organisational responsibilities

The organization of both the Symposium and the realization of the exhibition was made possible thanks to the initiative of Spyros Mercouris, Honorary President of the ECCM-Network and special advisor to the Kids' Guernica movement.

There were involved furthermore the Municipality of Athens and in particular the Cultural Organisation of the City of Athens.

The European Union Club facilitated many things and was presented through the key speaker Mr. de la Croix who linked the Symposium to the 'productivity of diplomacy'.

Both the Melina Mercouri Foundation and the NGO Horizons gave their support especially through the person of Spyros Mercouris.

Since this was a joint event of Symposium and Kids' Guernica Exhibition, the non profit Urban Society Poiein Kai Prattein provided logistical support and especially through Hatto Fischer the link between Symposium and Kids' Guernica related activities.

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