As part of the Portuguese Presidency of the Council of the European Union, the Presidency Conference on “Culture, Cohesion and Social Impact” was held on 5 and 6 May from the Fundação de Serralves Porto.
This conference was a benchmark for the most needed public and political debate to highlight the fundamental role of culture in strengthening social cohesion. The gathering also aimed at proposing practical solutions to optimize the social impact of culture.
This role played by culture is more important than ever in a post-pandemic world, marked with social isolation and causing mental health issues, rising levels of inequality and intolerance, and asymmetric patterns of territorial development.
The event brought together high-level representatives of the cultural and creative sectors, cultural operators, thinkers, academics, political and government officials from across the continent, calling on the EU to unlock the potential of culture to face current social, economic, and environmental issues challenges.
The conference started with a plenary session entitled “The Social Impact of culture”. Opportunities to rethink the place of culture in addressing social issues were presented to ensure a meaningful coexistence with each other and the surrounding environment.
The Conference was divided into 4 different panel sessions where different topics related to culture were covered, for instance, the correlation between culture, mental health, and wellbeing; exploring ways of re-emerging culture as a necessary element of a fuller, happier and richer life, which offers spaces for self-expression, for learning, for meaningful encounters with others and the discovery and practice of individual skills and capacities. Culture Action Europe has been working extensively on the topic of culture and well-being, with different research and publications being released in recent years. The topic of well-being, cultural rights, and access to and participation in cultural life is proposed to be among our advocacy focuses between 2022 and 2024.
The conference’s opening ceremony was led by the Portuguese Minister of Culture, Graça Fonseca, together with the participation of the European Commissioner for Innovation, Research, Culture, Education and Youth, Mariya Gabriel, and the Mayor of Porto, Rui Moreira. Among the speakers at the closing session were the Portuguese Secretary of State for Cinema, Audiovisual and Media, Nuno Artur Silva, and the European Commissioner for Cohesion and Reforms, Elisa Ferreira.