On May 31st and June 1st of 2016, the European Economic and Social Committee, in cooperation with the members of the Liaison group representing European civil society organisations and networks (in which Culture Action Europe represents the culture sector), held a forum focusing on migration and on how Europe can adapt to structural change: “Living together in our Europe”.
Culture Action Europe, as a member of the EESC Liaison Group, was asked to give its view on the role of culture to achieve this transformation. Katherine Heid, Head of political development at CAE, gave 4 strong messages towards political decision-makers and civil society:
- The role of the arts and also culture in its wider meaning (a whole complex of distinctive spiritual, material, intellectual and emotional features that characterize a society) in promoting inclusive societies should be recognized.
- On the so-called “refugees crisis”, Katherine Heid encouraged the participants to see refugee movements and migration processes as a chance to develop structural responses, which also imply a deep change in the mind-sets (of all members of society) as well as a strong involvement of the grass-roots level.
- Katherine also highlighted the numerous good practices in the field of migration and intercultural dialogue, pointing out the new issue of EMC’s Sounds magazine on Music and Migration, as well as IETM’s overview on good practices in the arts. The arts are important players via benefits of creative engagement: self-esteem, expression beyond words, community, cohesion, curiosity, divergent and critical thinking, etc, but also the possibility to address trauma. In this sense, civil society should recognize the role of culture to accompany structural change.
- Participants were encouraged to reflect on their own motivations and organizational engagement, citing for example the benchmarking tool of the MCP broker study or also the manifesto of RISE, which details 10 things you need to consider when working with refugees. Also, the wide range of experience provided by decades of work on intercultural dialogue should be taken into account.
Documentation of the EESC event can be found online, click here to access the programme and more detailed information.