There is no recovery or future for Europe without culture. The European cultural ecosystem is convinced that Europe needs a new Cultural Deal, a transversal, overarching framework that should demonstrate the EU’s political commitment to place culture at the heart of the European project.
Culture is what brings us together. It is at the basis of the European project and determines the future of our societies. The gravity of the Covid-19 crisis proved again that culture is not a luxury, but a necessity to build cohesive, equal, sustainable and free societies. A Cultural Deal for Europe is a call from a wider European cultural community to acknowledge the pivotal role of culture in shaping the future of our lives.
In a joint statement, published by Culture Action Europe, (CAE), European Cultural Foundation (ECF), and Europa Nostra (also in its capacity as the coordinator of the European Heritage Alliance), the European community of cultural, creative, heritage and philanthropic sectors call to mainstream culture across all policy fields to fully realise its potential for the European project: from the green transition to Europe’s geopolitical ambition, and from the digital shift to a value-driven Union. It bundles together both short-term and long-term perspectives. It eyes the immediate recovery of our societies with the ambition to build a new paradigm for designing the Future of Europe.
The Cultural Deal for Europe was first launched on 18 November 2020, during a high-profile online debate with more than 500 attendees. The President of the European Parliament David Sassoli opened the event, echoing the call of the sector: “(We need to) think(…) of culture as a pivot for recovery, in particular for the green and digital transition but also as the social cement of a post-Covid world that needs to be rebuilt,” – he said. According to President Sassoli, culture and the arts bring beauty and “poetics”, a creative force that animates us and allows us to live. “It is through culture that we can advance the European project,” French Secretary of State Clément Beaune stressed during the event.
Beyond the aesthetic contribution of culture and the arts to societies, however, the cultural sector claims its political space too. “Now it is time to combine creative thinking and effective actions. We should make common pleads in order to address the lack of centrality of cultural perspectives in the European project which should be a cultural project above all. We need poetics but also politics, because in culture they should go hand-in-hand,” said Tere Badia, Secretary General of Culture Action Europe.
On the political level, the Cultural Deal for Europe aims at acknowledging the contribution of the sector to the European project, in particular by reconsidering the social and legal status of artists and cultural professionals but also by going beyond the sectoral perspective and including cultural approaches and voices in the main strategic EU programmes and policies, as well as in the Conference on the Future of Europe. On the financial and technical level, the Deal should mean the creation of a strong mechanism to heal the cultural ecosystem post-pandemic, as well as mainstreaming cultural policies as a priority dimension in the EU policy thinking and funds-allocation.
A remarkable feature of the discussion was the consistency of the messages repeated by all the stakeholders. 95% of attendees agreed that, while the crisis requires creative solutions and visionary approaches, it also presents an unprecedented opportunity to change the status quo. It was emphasized that the crisis and recovery should be seen as an opportunity to make a step forward, prepare the sector for the future, and better equip it with means and resources for contributing to the European project.
“To show the power of culture, we need a unified cultural sector: we need collaboration, cooperation, a common voice, common advocacy strategies,” said Sabine Verheyen, Chair of the CULT Committee of the European Parliament. “We have to work together on the common narrative in order to be able to convince Member States to see culture as a strategic investment,” European Commissioner for Innovation, Research, Culture, Education and Youth Mariya Gabriel agreed.
A Cultural Deal for Europe aims to be that overarching cultural and political force that will put culture at the heart of public-debate and decision making.
Detailed overview of the online debate “A Cultural Deal for Europe – A Central Place for Culture in the EU’s Post Pandemic Future” is available here.
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