Petition for the Danish Centre for Culture and Development

October 22, 2015, 5:46 pm

Brussels, 20 October 2015

Dear Minister of Foreign Affairs, Kristian Jensen,

We are writing to express our concern that the internationally highly-respected Danish Centre for Culture and Development (CKU) may be forced to cease operating as such, or radically reduce or fragment its activities.

Indeed, culture has been increasingly recognised as an important vector of development, not only in economic terms but also in the areas of social, educational and justice development in the last years. To curb the Danish activity on this international front at this moment in time is not only unfortunate but also detrimental to Denmark as an important, visionary and unique world player.

In this regard Denmark and the CKU stands alongside other countries with special provisions for culture and development such as Switzerland and the Netherlands, but few have the status, experience and standing that CKU has.

For a relatively modest amount of government finance CKU is able to deliver policy objectives to Denmark that are difficult to achieve elsewhere. Indeed, the European Union (Horizon 2020) has recognised this by commissioning a high level study of the Effect of Culture and Science Diplomacy in the EU’s External Affairs in which specific countries’ activities and policies will also be analysed. It would seem a shame if, right at this point, Denmark would be left out of this.

On a national/international level, there is much evidence that ‘soft power’ such as cultural diplomacy, reinforces other peoples’ trust and tendency to trade and partner the trusted country. And on a purely internal level, there is evidence that cultural reciprocity (exchange, trade, visits, people-to-people activities) benefit the home country in economic, inspiration/innovation and social terms. Why would Denmark wish to forgo these positive benefits?

The new UN Sustainable Development Goals feature objectives such as education, well-being, innovation, sustainable communities and peace and justice – all of which have been proved to be successful using cultural strategies and activities. In terms of justice and the rule of law, the European Union has recently ratified Guidelines written in 2014 for human rights defenders in which artists are specifically cited as defenders of individual and commercial rights.

Culture has been recently the focus for both international and national recognition and support: The UN Special Rapporteur produced her 2013 report, “The Right to Freedom of Artistic Expression and Creation” and has presented to great acclaim over the last two years, including to the European Parliament and Commission. The French have just confirmed a proposal for a national law guaranteeing the right not only to freedom of artistic expression and creation but also to its diffusion. Denmark as a primary champion of free expression should not be withdrawing from the international development scene at this moment.

For these reasons and more, we urge the Danish government to continue to support the CKU, its mission and activities at the highest level possible, for the benefit of the Danish people, the future of its international partnerships and for the values it has always, and continues to, hold dear.
Thank you.

Yours sincerely,
Mercedes Giovinazzo
Culture Action Europe
Luca Bergamo
Secretary General
Culture Action Europe

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