Culture Action Europe Conference 2015

Over a weekend in October my Brussels team and I had the opportunity to attend the annual Culture Action Europe (CAE) conference which, this year, was held in Gothenburg. CAE is the political umbrella of the European cultural community. It gathers together committed citizens, practitioners and private and public organisations to put culture at the heart of the public debate and decision-making. Through its 110 European and national network members, CAE reaches out to over 80,000 cultural organisations across Europe, active in all areas of creation and heritage.

Over a weekend in October my Brussels team and I had the opportunity to attend the annual Culture Action Europe (CAE) conference which, this year, was held in Gothenburg. CAE is the political umbrella of the European cultural community. It gathers together committed citizens, practitioners and private and public organisations to put culture at the heart of the public debate and decision-making. Through its 110 European and national network members, CAE reaches out to over 80,000 cultural organisations across Europe, active in all areas of creation and heritage.

Building on last year's conference, which we also attended in Newcastle-Gateshead, the theme of this year's conference was 'beyond the obvious', encouraging delegates to explore alternative and out-of-the box solutions to current issues facing culture and cultural institutions.

Thanks to the innovative and ambitious nature of the conference, not only in content, but also in shape and format, we had many opportunities to engage in lively conversations about the issues that matter.  Engaging directly with the membership of CAE also enables us to learn about inspiring stories and ideas that can then feed into our work in the European Parliament, across all my committees, not simply the Culture and Education committee.  Over the past 18 months my office has had considerable success in proposing speakers and projects for various conferences, round tables, seminars, fact-finding missions, etc., as part of Julie's parliamentary work on a number of topics such as social cohesion and marginalised communities, intercultural dialogue, preventing violence against women and girls, youth empowerment in post conflict countries.  The CAE conference offered a wide range of new voices that we may call upon in the future, either in a sectoral consultative capacity or as potential speakers, experts and so on.  It was particularly good to meet cultural activists from crisis zones such as Greece and Ukraine alongside established players from organisations such as the Rijks Museum.

 

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While touching upon many topics, the CAE conference mainly focused on Human and Cultural Rights, covering, amongst others, the right for fair remuneration of artists in a digital world, culture and individual and collective wellbeing, and intercultural dialogue.

This approach is very relevant for Julie's portfolio and parliamentary work, in particular for the report on "the role of intercultural dialogue, cultural diversity and education in promoting EU fundamental values" for which Julie has been appointed rapporteur in the European Parliament.

On top of providing plenty of inspiration, the conference was a crucial opportunity to meet with various representatives of Europe's cultural communities, many of whom came from the UK, perhaps particularly sensitive to the domestic challenges provoked by the forthcoming referendum and seeking solidarity from fellow artists.

Being active participants in the conference strengthens bridges between our team and civil society, artists, cultural workers, thinkers and other decision-makers.  Of particular interest was a presentation by Katrin Oddsdottir, a young lawyer and one of 25 members of Iceland's Constitutional Council who worked on drafting a unique, new, fit for purpose, crowd-sourced constitution for Iceland.  The conference began with her address and concluded with a screening of 'Blueberry Soup', the documentary about the process.  Katrin's youthful and positive hopefulness is what we all need right now, especially in a world whose foundations are being shaken.

Many thanks go to the staff, board members and volunteers from CAE for keeping the dialogue open, inclusive, relevant, and creative in format.  Thanks also to the City of Gothenburg for wonderful hospitality and for sharing their cultural spaces.  We look forward to next year's gathering.

 

For more info visit:

 

http://cultureactioneurope.org

http://www.wilmaswishes.com/

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