Come2Art gathers in Brussels for final conference

August 7, 2023, 9:42 am

On 28 June, the Come2Art project hosted its final event: a policy roundtable and a co-creation lab about arts-based active citizenship and creative place-making. This international workshop brought together artists, community members, civil society organisations and policymakers from different European countries to work together over the course of the workshop to discuss political and policy support for developing the skills of artists to take a social role in building community resilience through artistic practices at the local, regional, national and European levels. The workshop developed a set of recommendations which will be submitted to the European Commission.

The two-year project, Come2Art,  has developed:
  • an interventional framework for promoting life skills development and application through creative placemaking
  • a life skills curriculum (including trainer’s and trainee’s toolkit) through arts in the context of creative placemaking
  • co-creativity hubs connecting community members and artists / cultural workers for life skills application
  • creativity placemaking projects at the local level inspired by COVID-19 experiences

The Come2Art event was happy to host two special guests in attendance to deliver short addresses that speak to the work and positioning that the European Commission and Parliament have in the conversation around developing skills for artistic leadership.

First, Benjamin Feyen (Secretary General, Cultural Creators Friendship Group (CCFG), European Parliament), shared how the cross-partisan and supranational coalition in the Parliament aims at improving the whole European cultural ecosystem with a focus on the Cultural and Creative Sectors. He stressed their current focus on the working conditions of artists, a topic that echoed many of the issues raised throughout the course of the project and was addressed in the recommendation writing portion of the event.

Participants then heard from Barbara Stacher (European Commission’s Directorate-General for Education and Culture (DG EAC)). Ms Stacher discussed the importance of skill-building and competencies for artists and provided a detailed overview of different funding schemes that are available to the cultural and creative sectors. It was an opportunity for both artists and community members to understand how they have access to multiple types of European funding to support their projects at the local and national levels. Ms Stacher also provided practical guidance on how to access such funding, such as the CulturEU Funding Guide and a reference to the Creative Europe Desks in each of the participants’ countries.

Maya Weisinger (Culture Action Europe) opened the floor for discussion by asking both artists and community members from the Come2Art co-creativity hubs about their contributions and learned lessons in the project. The debate of the first part of the conference focused on identifying what life skills are needed to build resilience in communities, serving as a basis for later recommendation writing.

Raquel Gomes de Sousa Varela (Clube Intercultural, Portugal) discussed her role as an artist in the project and shared how her own personal experience guided her ability to relate to the community members she worked with and develop an artistic approach to her leadership. “I made a lot of exercises to help my students share their emotions through drawing. Most people were very shy because they didn’t draw at all and didn’t want to show their work. We usually don’t want to share or be exposed, so I took that sentiment and translated it into drawing exercises. Covid was very bad for me. I stayed at home…and there were a lot of emotions I had to deal with. This helped me empathize with my students and encourage them to share their own hard emotions.”

Smaro Katsangelou (Action Aid Hellas, Greece) shared her artistic project which focused on emerging female narratives in public spaces. “It was an eye-opening experience meeting with participants, mainly young girls, and it was important for our project to have their voices heard and understand what is problematic about urban space and urbanity in general.”

Policy Roundtable

After an overview of the focus areas and results of the project from Michalis Naris (Action Aid Hellas), Giulia Fiaccarini and Antonia Silvaggi (MeltingPro) commenced the participatory workshop that brought all 77 participants together to explore and debate key topics and develop policy recommendations. After national policy roundtables were held in the three Come2Art countries (Greece, Portugal and Italy), the following topics were identified as key areas in which to develop policy recommendations at the European level:

  • Spaces for participatory artistic practices
  • Networks among citizens, CSOs, universities and artists
  • Developing life skills through the arts
  • Learning experience led by artists 
  • Vocational education and training for artists
  • Diversifying audiences 

The overarching goal of the Policy Roundtable was to result in recommendations that place arts in the centre of life skills development while fostering belonging and arts-based social inclusion at the community level and advocate for new roles to be undertaken by artists and cultural workers as community educators and creativity ambassadors, democratising arts and exploring new audiences and opportunities for them to promote their work as well as to. The following recommendations were developed as a result of the event on 28 June 2023.

This event was part of the Brussels2030 Summer Assembly 2023, which is an open conference that invites civil society, arts, culture, science, and diversity of actors that make this city help prepare Brussels to become the European Capital of Culture in 2030. The Summer Assembly offers a space where diverse urban actors can inspire one another and initiate processes of collaborative city-making.

Hosted by: Partners of the Come2Art ProjectActionAid Hellas (Greece), the Faculty of Fine Arts of Aristotle University of Thessaloniki (Greece), Culture Action Europe (Belgium), MeltingPro (Italy), Clube Intercultural Europeu (Portugal), IoDeposito (Italy), and Creativity Platform (Greece)

The European Commission support for the production of this publication does not constitute an endorsemnet of the contents which reflects the views only of the authors. The European Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein.
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