Youngsters of all ages, Stand Up for European Culture !

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« Le Nouvel Européen.

Discover what Europe could be »

« Dites, si c’était vrai »

 

-Happy Birthday : Auguri.

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25 March 1957 : signature of the Treaty of Rome – 25 March 2037 : the Treaty of Rome celebrates its eighty years (four times twenty years!)

 

-Cultural Acquis of the European Union.

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At the beginning of the European Union, which was purely economic, the competence concerning cultural matters did not exist in the Treaty of Rome.

It took 35 years of evolution of mind-sets and the Treaty of Maastricht, signed on 7 February 1992 and entered into force on 1 November 1993, in order to have Culture acknowledged as such.

According to article 167 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU): “The Union shall contribute to the flowering of the cultures of the Member States, while respecting their national and regional diversity and at the same time bringing the common cultural heritage to the fore”.

Within this narrow juridical frame, the European Union nonetheless managed to develop a lot of projects and programmes. For instance, the project for the “European Capital of Culture” or also the programme “Creative Europe”, particularly active and appreciated in the media sector, among others. Thus, for the period 2014-2020, a European budget in the cultural field has been cleared, consisting of 1.46 billion euros (with an increase of 9% compared to the previous European Budget).

However there are some onerousness and obstacles:

  1. Obligation of gathering cultural actors of minimum three or seven Member States, according to the importance of the European subsidy asked for;
  2. Obligation of falling within the projects prepared by the European programmes required to cultural actors and leading to long and burdensome administrative processes.

 

Economic crisis and European society’s crisis, starting from 2008.

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The global economic crisis, mainly provoked by the mistakes of certain American banks, washed over Europe at the speed of a tsunami, unforeseen and poorly curbed.

Austerity policies have been the trigger of a profound discontent of which the European Union has become the designated escape goat.

In the cultural domain, two schools of thought faced each other:

  1. Those who simply wanted to make savings and cut the public cultural budget because, according to them, it did not bring anything in return.
  2. Those who, on the contrary, understood that Culture could have been an incredible leverage to revitalise the economy and, at the same time, a great mobilising project for future European citizens.

 

-Salutary electroshock.

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Some visionaries, from the latter school of thought, started to raise their voices and to uphold the legitimacy of going deeper into the European construction through culture:

  1. In 2013, the Eurobarometre asked the question on which was the area in which the strongest sense of community among European citizens was perceived. The answer: at the top of the rank, Culture (28%, increased by 6% compared to 2012), followed by Economy (24%), Sports (23%), History (22%), Values (19%), and so on.
  2. A detailed report by Unesco, in December 2015, showed that, in Europe, economic growth of the cultural sector was three times more important than traditional economic growth. It has been objectively demonstrated that the European cultural sector was creating jobs (7.7 millions) and contributed up to the 3% of European GDP.
  3. Some internationally well-known personalities, such as Peter de Caluwe, former Director of the “Théâtre Royal de la Monnaie”, in Brussels, fought against the continuous attacks of those who thought that Culture nothing had to add to our societies. On the contrary, we need to remember more than ever that Culture is a profitable investment, both in the short and long term.
  4. In January 2017, the very new Italian section of “STAND UP FOR EUROPE” successfully organised its first activity on the subject “Rilanciamo l’Europa partendo dalla cultura”, in Bologna.

 

European civil society understood, in particular thanks to its citizens’ movements, that the European construction could not be satisfied anymore merely by the “only Economics” logic, which was leading to an impasse as rich people were becoming richer and poor people poorer.

Relying on European history lessons, namely on the Renaissance in Florence, in the XVth century, European citizens’ movements, among which STAND UP FOR EUROPE, proposed to politicians to be more united on this point and to launch new cultural projects, qualitatively appealing to youngsters of all ages, with the view of combating individualism, racism, materialism and other evils of the kind which seemed to gain electoral popularity.

During the democratic election of the European Parliament, in 2019, something incredible happened.

Already on the occasion of the celebrations for the 60th anniversary of the Treaty of Rome, at the end of March 2017, a programme shared by all the political parties and European citizens’ movements, called “CULTURIN”, has been developed and proposed to the electorate. This is a crucial turnaround as it entailed the maintenance of the on-going economic process (of course) but also the addition, on an EQUAL FOOTING,  of a completely new project of relaunch and deepening of the European construction through Culture!

Crucial turnaround..

Imagine the importance of the event, as it was the very first time in European History that such a qualitative social step had been proposed, without passing through the electroshock of a war.

It should have been written a new appealing Big Story on Europe and give a new Sense to the European ideal, which was no longer based only on Peace among peoples, but also on the common Action in order to give birth to our “common cultural heritage”. The miracle occurred as the majority of Europeans voted strongly in favour of “CULTURIN”. The European Parliament then started to act, in order to review the founding Treaties following the European electorate’s will

 

-Relaunching Europe through Culture.

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Two important  juridical corrections need to be foreseen:

  1. What was discreetly named up to then “the cultural exception”, praiseworthy aiming at avoiding cultural activity to be assimilated to an economic product, has been abandoned. By the same token, the cultural sector has been put on an equal footing compared to the economic one and its budget has been consequently and progressively increased in order to match the necessities of several projects which are now flourishing all over the European Union.
  1. What was discreetly considered, up to then, as a “subsidiary competence”, meaning that it could not have been used unless the European Union could have done better than its Member States or their Regions (subsidiarity principle), became a fully-fledged cultural competence. It has been clearly stated that Member States or their Regions would not be penalised by this new European cultural policy. For instance, European Capitals of Culture kept on following their excellent national programmes, but the European Union favoured their twinning in order to create new European projects and benefitting from national acquis.

 

Thus, a new mentality has been created among European youngsters of all ages.

The deep bond between the Labour Society and the Leisure Society has been questioned again.

The classic unemployment, notably caused by delocalisation and by the ever-growing society, has had as its consequence that European citizens received a “universal allowance”.

Working time has been reduced to four days per week. However, instead of increasing the amount of time devoted to passive leisure, European Culture Society favoured an intermediate timing and space, in order to develop European cultural projects.

European people immediately started to act, as they were fiercely waiting for something of the kind. “Living together” can sometimes be difficult in daily living, but it can be positively overturned in a “doing together” in the cultural field. From passive consumers, we became “prosumers”, namely producers and/or consumers of cultural events. The will to act was, in itself, a deep and positive motivation, above all in those fields which had become good hobbies.

What was most important was the fact of having used and developed the right side of our brain, which reveals our creativity, our emotions, our solidarity and finally our joie de vivre.

As it happens in Bhutan, European citizens do not talk about GDP anymore. Instead, they talk about GDH (Gross Domestic Happiness), which is constantly on the rise.

European volunteering received a fully-fledged juridical status, allowing cultural actors to be recognised and supported. There was no lack of volunteers, particularly but not exclusively: youngsters, women finally become equal to men, pensioners, increasing on a daily basis.

Recipients of the universal allocation had a supplementary contribution at their disposal, which was adapted to their participation to European cultural projects. Volunteering however allowed to undertake several projects, little costly and culturally enriching.

A great novelty has been the strong support coming from the Public Sector as well as from the Private one, as the development of Private-Public partnerships can tell.

 

  1. In the European Public Sector:

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The programme called “Creative Europe” had been adapted to the new order. For instance:

a)    Natural persons, not only legal persons (associations, foundations, etc.) anymore, were entitled to submit to the competent European administration a cultural project which could have been subsidized by the European Union.

b)    Without the exclusion of bigger projects, it is enough to present a small project made up by two persons, natural or legal, coming from two different Member States, in order to be taken into account.

c)    Considering European cities whose cultural importance had not ceased to increase, twinning partnerships have multiplied and access conditions to European projects have been simplified.

d)    Two different systems for European cultural projects had been favoured:

–       According to the old “Top-Down” method,  European authorities decided over subjects and time periods; candidates were selected and subsidized based on these projects.

–       According to the new “Bottom-Up” approach, natural or legal persons, from two or more Member States, could spontaneously make different proposals, whose capacity to attract subsidies relied exclusively on their potentiality to create a cultural Europe. It is in this way that the great pilot-project, led by STAND UP FOR EUROPE and BOZAR, in Brussels, in 2017, managed to develop and reach the success we know. This project created a common work made by 28 European plastic artists, one for each Member States, to the glory of European construction and to its common cultural heritage.

e)    Creation of a “European cultural Grant”, open, over a little charge, on an adequate website; this Grant centralised natural and legal persons that were asking for a partnership in order to realise a European cultural project. This had been an incredible driving force facilitating the coming closer and the easier, quicker and more efficient realisation of these projects,

f)     In all the aforementioned cases, European authorities played an active role as cultural agents, meaning that they actually endeavour to deal with all contractual, financial and administrative issues which up to then were discouraging a good number of potential cultural actors.

g)    In all the aforementioned cases, European authorities also showed themselves pro-active in helping subsidized projects’ actors to make them last longer and make them travel around Europe. Indeed, this helped them become “economically” profitable.

In the first place, also in order to avoid the difficult and expensive linguistic issue, so-called silent arts had been favoured (dance, mime, painting, sculpture, music, etc.). Nevertheless, rapidly, due to the enthusiasm aroused, the other sectors, mono or multi-language, started to develop (theatres and subtitled cinemas, translated literature, etc.). Languages were always respected as everyone understood that they were not simply a cultural vehicle, but first and foremost an important and irreplaceable part of the Culture itself.

 

2. In the European Private Sector :

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Several initiatives have been launched; due to their number, it is not possible to report them all. Here are the most important among them:

a)    A cultural incubator, named “Creatis”, was founded in France in 2012. It was then established in Brussels, Belgium, in 2017, and it rapidly expanded, covering the whole Union. Its aim was to help start-ups whose objective was to organise either permanent or temporary cultural events. The incubator provided to start-ups a whole range of services, aiming at guiding and accelerating the development of those projects. As far as the financial aspect was concerned, start-ups benefitted from contributions granted by a public investment fund, called St’art Invest, and by the European platform KissKissBankBank, together with consultancy from a big European bank. The identity of these start-ups witnessed the will to create complementarity among projects. It also involved design, fashion, virtual reality and comics.

b)    The “crowdfunding” market had also widely grown. “Just to recall, the participatory financing comprises the collections of funds from a community of investors (sometimes donors) in order to finance entrepreneurial projects, either philanthropic, cultural or artistic”. It is mainly in the European culture field that this financing method has found its most important and most successful implementation.

c)    Micro-credit, which had been initially created and implemented for the advantage of developing countries, progressively expanded throughout the whole European Union. Indeed, this excellent financing method, flexible as well as alternative, is socially inclusive and has successfully contributed to complement the array of tools available to small entrepreneurial actors in the European cultural sector.

 

3. In public-private partnerships:

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Instead of forcing cultural projects’ authors to adapt to donors’ or money-lenders’ administrative and financial need, the latter have been often required to find the ways to adjust their offers, either of services or of financing, to the necessities and to the freedom of the creators.

Moreover, the frequent arrangement of public-private partnerships helped as a multiplier and it encouraged people with manifold cultural ideas but few organizational competences.

 

-Provisional and Important Conclusions.

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This brief overview of an audacious and voluntary cultural policy, carried out after the “years of lead”, showed the dazzling success of a relaunch of the European construction project through Culture.

Our European talking needed a turnaround in order to be effectively accepted and put into practice by all Member States. Unity in diversity has become, in the cultural sector, diversity in unity. First of all, of the utmost importance was to respect national or regional cultures, without squeezing them through the common construction of a European culture.

Every single original culture has been preserved (e.g. the Greek-Italian culture, as well as the German, French, Spanish, Portuguese, Anglo-Saxon and Slav ones) and could develop, according to its own heritage, without having been forced to necessarily adapt to the European Culture.

On the contrary, when two or more cultures moved closer toward each other, space was created, in this interval, to allow the outbreak of a new resource, characterized by a European calling.

However, these cultural initiatives needed a European cultural identity in order to start bridging between different cultures, all equally representatives of a part of the Truth of the Human Being.

This European Renaissance thanks to Culture has contributed and will keep on contributing to the very own identity of the United States of Europe, whose creativity, which is a source of personal and collective fulfilment, will come out strengthened for the highest Well-Being of European citizens.

 

Xavier LEURQUIN

Member of Stand Up for Europe

 

We will do it!

Ces infos ne sont pas encore d’actualité.

DOMMAGE.

 

Bibliography :

  1. Renaud DENUIT : « Politique culturelle européenne », Ed. Bruylant, Idées d’Europe, sept.2016
  2. Europe creative, 2014-2020 sur « ec.europa.eu/creative-europe“.
  3. Eurobaromètre 79, Pr.2013, QD8.
  4. Cultural times, the first global map of cultural and creative industries, Dec.2015 in www.worldcretive.org
  5.  Peter de CALUWE, in « La libre Belgique » du 17/02/2017, p.55
  6.  Cf. la 43e édition de notre « newsletter ».
  7.  Monique von WISTINGHAUSEN : « la Ville en Europe », Ed. Avant-Propos, 2016
  8.  Stand Up for Europe, « 28 plasticiens pour une seule Europe », à lire sur le nouvel europeen.be/28-plasticiens-renom-seule-europe/
  9.  Un membre fondateur de « Stand up for Europe » a même été à l’origine d’un site Internet permettant de localiser, dans ses environs immédiats, les personnes ayant les mêmes centres d’intérêt. Ce formidable programme avait, alors, été adapté et étendu aux citoyen(ne)s de tous les Etats membres, en recherche de projets et de partenaires culturels européens!
  10. Incubateur culturel CREATIS, in « La libre Belgique, 24/02/2017, pp.10-11
  11. « Le marché du Crowfunding décolle en Belgique », in La libre Belgique, 22/02/2017, p.26
  12. François JULLIEN, « Il n’y a pas d’identité culturelle », Ed. L’Herne, oct.2016

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