A Collective Call for Culture in Europe

September 27, 2019, 9:46 am

Openness, freedom and diversity: these are the values that comprise the European identity of today, according to European Parliament CULT Committee Chair Sabine Verheyen (DE).

On 23 September, Culture Action Europe, in partnership with the European Cultural Foundation, facilitated an evening debate to address how the cultural sector, NGOs and EU institutions can most effectively take action for European culture. In cooperation with European Heritage Alliance 3.3 and BOZAR, the event highlighted the steadfast commitments of both cultural organizations and the CULT Committee, as well as current and future challenges for culture in the European Union.

Opening the event, Ms. Verheyen set a tone of both advocacy and action underlying the evening’s discussions, stating how “protection and promotion of European culture” is the CULT committee’s highest priority. The following panel, consisting of Tere Badia (Secretary-General, Culture Action Europe), André Wilkens (Director, European Cultural Foundation) and Sneška Quaedvlieg-Mihailović (Secretary-General, Europa Nostra & Coordinator, European Heritage Alliance 3.3) strongly encouraged European Commission President-elect Ursula von der Leyen to “Bring Back Culture!” in the portfolio of Commissioner-Designate for Youth and Innovation, Mariya Gabriel.

Moderated by Dharmendra Kanani (Friends of Europe), multiple MEPs in attendance contributed their perspectives and ideas for concrete action measures to ensure these passionate attitudes are reflected in future policy. Commenting on the integral nature of culture in shaping European democracy, MEPs Hannes Heide (AT) and Niklas Nienaß (DE) emphasized the importance of educational programs such as Erasmus +. Expanding on these propositions, MEP Domènec Ruiz Devesa (ES) voiced support for cultural mainstreaming across European policies, as well as the pioneering of a European civic education program. Diving further into this topic, MEP Anna Júlia Donáth (HU) highlighted the cross-cutting relevance of culture, and in her speech, CULT Committee Vice-Chair Dace Melbārde (LV) asserted the responsibility of each generation to create their own, unique cultural values.

                                              Visual notes by Menah Marleen Wellen

Considering the overall characterization of culture in Europe as multi-layered, open and inclusive by the evening’s speakers, André Wilkens appealed to create a European sense of belonging through culture by investing in people-to-people experiences, both analog and digital. Sneška Quaedvlieg-Mihailović once again implored the Commission President-elect to “take culture in her hands” as the debate drew to a close. Finally, Culture Action Europe Secretary-General Tere Badia punctuated the evening with a bold, urgent and imperative call to action: bring culture back to the core of the European project in meaning, policy and through cross-coordination – not only in rhetoric.

Currently, Culture Action Europe is spearheading a campaign to “Bring Back Culture!” in the European Commissioner-designate portfolio(s) through an online petition. Join us in demanding action on culture from Ms. von der Leyen by contributing to our goal of 10,000 signatures here.

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