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European Agenda for Culture



European Union - Agenda for Culture

Reference:  Communication for a European agenda for culture in a globalizing world

“Culture and creativity are important drivers for personal development, social cohesion and economic growth. Today's strategy promoting intercultural understanding confirms culture's place at the heart of our policies,” said José Manuel Barroso, President of the European Commission, on 10 May 2007.
On the same day, the Commission adopted an important strategy document on culture in the form of a Communication, which proposes a European agenda for culture in a globalizing world.

Objectives for a European agenda

The agenda has three sets of objectives:
- to promote cultural diversity and intercultural dialogue in Europe;
- to promote culture as a catalyst for creativity and innovation in the context of the Lisbon Strategy for jobs and growth. Indeed, the culture and creative sectors – television, cinema, music, performing arts, entertainment, etc. – in the EU generated €654 billion in 2003 (2.6% of the Union’s GDP);
- to ensure that culture becomes a key component in the EU’s external relations so as to build bridges with other parts of the world. In this context, the Commission is proposing the creation of an EU-ACP (African, Caribbean and Pacific Countries) Cultural Fund to support the distribution of ACP cultural goods.

A structured and flexible framework

The new strategy proposes a co-operative approach between the Commission and Member States which is both structured and flexible. This Open Method of Coordination, which has been used successfully in other policy areas, involves agreeing common objectives and regularly following up progress towards them.

The Commission has also suggested that a Cultural Forum should be created for consulting stakeholders.

Website: http://ec.europa.eu/culture/index_en.htm

See also http://www.agenda21culture.net/index.php

Follow-up to the adoption of the European Agenda for Culture

2008 Year for Intercultural Dialogue


2009 Innovation and Creativity

2009 had been designated by the European Commission to innovation and creativity. This has become even in 2010 a major trend as papers have been written to highlight the role of cultural industries and of the creative sector in bringing about innovation and creativity as essential production factors for the knowledge economy. A crucial difference from the original intention to bring culture in from the margins is now the emphasis being put upon culture becoming a part of main stream. That shift of focus upon culture as factor of production and by the same equation as a factor of competitiveness has instigated the European Commission to designate 2010 to handling problems of poverty and of social exclusion. Again it remains to be seen if the EU agenda of culture perceives, however, the problem of European integration as an unresolved dispute with nation states wishing to claim cultural resources while hindering intercultural dialogue, mobility of artists and of art works so as to make European cultures accessible to everyone.

2010 Combating Poverty and Social Exclusion / or Poverty of Experience in view of a "Risk Culture"

It should not go unnoticed that in 2010 with state deficits bringing the Euro into a sharp decline in value while rating companies become subject of increased criticism due to their abilities to downgrade state bonds into junk assets and bring countries like Greece to the knees, the European Commission has started to speak naturally more about a "risk culture" being needed for investments to be made rather than facing the fact that austerity measures will create throughout Europe more unemployment and push a lot more people below existential minimum. At the same time, the United States will for sure not exclude even EU member states from their index for "failed and fractured states" if social unrests in these countries will threaten social cohesion and dialogue between various social partners. Above all partners coming from Civil Society will be jeopardized to a large extent due to a lack of funding so that civil values but also independence shall be lost to forces working under other norms especially when imposed from above. This is the case with the entire package of measures agreed upon, for example, between Greece, the International Monetary Fund and the member states of the European Union. Thus both the link to culture has become weak while the identification of all the problems related to poverty and social exclusion are indeed important, but have to be viewed in the context of cultural governance far from being realized in Europe and this in collaboration with Civil Society.


on the implementation of the European Agenda for Culture

EU Strategy towards 2020

Art education - the next priority?

Stair case of school on the island of Chios 2007

Rolf Witte, International Relations Officer of the German Federation for Cultural Youth Education, BKJ in a special edition published by the German UNESCO division on the subject matter of: "Today's arts education" writes:

"that within the context of these priorities, arts education shall become increasingly vital. For arts education can be perceived as 'catalyst promoting better use of synergies between culture and education, in particular by encouraging art education and active participation in cultural activities'.”

(The English version of the magazine is available at http://www.unesco.de/fileadmin/medien/Dokumente/Kultur/Kulturelle_Bildung/_FINAL_Unesco_today_1_2010.pdf)

(Note: In the framework of the Second World Conference on Arts Education organized by UNESCO and the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism of the Republic of Korea in Seul from 25 to 28 May, 2010 the German Commission of UNESCO has dedicated the current issue of the magazine UNESCO Today to arts education. The edition offers an overview on the situation regarding arts education in Germany, as well as contributions from experts, best practices, new learning spaces, proposals on arts education for cultural diversity and recommendations from the German Commission on Culture.)

However, this positive affirmation of arts education is contradicted by what is known about current trends in a country like Germany. Prof. Diethard Kerbs reports, that there is a steady decrease at university level in the number of chairs / professorships still devoted to art education and to the task of qualifying future art educators.

In a country like Greece, art education is not even a part of the official school curriculum. Melina Mercouri attempted when Minister of Culture to initiate an art educational programme. It meant in practice to give already established school teachers the possibilities to qualify themselves outside of school in special designed training programs to teach specific forms of artistic expressions. This program was ended when the PASOK government was replaced in 2004 by Nea Demokratia. Moreover, once PASOK regained power at the end of 2009, the Ministry for Culture was merged with Tourism for the obvious reason to utilize culture and more specifically cultural heritage to attract tourists to Greece. It reflects a thinking about the commercial value of already existing culture but does not seem to appreciate enough the role of culture in developing such abilities needed for cultural adaptation and the furthering of innovative, creative processes within work and social life, and not only within the economic sphere of paid work.

Efforts to link culture and education are at best singular actions e.g. bringing artists into the class room. Most of the curriculums leave out art classes the closer the students come to their final exams in need to be passed if they are to enter university level. There is no clear indication that cultural studies and the arts themselves shall become subject matters of equal status as enjoyed by Mathematics, Languages, Natural Sciences etc.

At European level, the European Commission did initiate the CONNECT Programme to link education and culture in the period 2000-2002. It had the ramification of joining the two DGs in an attempt by the Commission to bring these two diverse and very differently structured fields of activities together. Whether this has resulted in a better programming for future actions aiming to link culture and education is unknown.




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