The 13th edition of the forum on cooperation and sustainable development organised by the European Commission, known as the European Development Days, will take place in Brussels on the 18th and 19th of June.
The central theme of the event is tackling inequalities, with the objective of leaving no one behind in the future world development scenarios. INTERARTS has been very involved since the first editions, always defending the relevance of cultural issues in the design and implementation of policies, programs or cooperation projects that seek to empower people, to promote democratic values and demand sustainability.
Perseverance always bears its fruits. The current development agenda that stems from the agreements on the 2015-2030 Sustainable Development Goals takes into account, albeit in a still a relatively imprecise and from a highly transversal approach, as solid areas of cooperation diversity and intercultural dialogue but also the economy, linked to heritage, and creativity. Cultural NGOs such as INTERARTS thus see their work and extensive experience acknowledged.
The situation is certainly paradoxical. European states interfere relatively little in culture and we are still far away from considering culture as it had been in the debates of the eighties regarding the future of Europe.
According to a 2017 Eurobarometer survey, EU citizens believe that culture is the most important factor in creating a sense of community. However, Eurostat data show that more than a third of Europeans do not participate in any cultural activity and that market fragmentation, insufficient access to finance and uncertainty of contractual conditions continue to affect the cultural and creative sectors and, consequently, the level of income by professionals in these fields.
Essentially, the new European agenda proposes appropriate sources of financing for policies and projects of the member states that have an impact either on the creation of synergies between culture and education, the strengthening of links between culture and other fields of activity or that help the cultural and creative sectors to consolidate, innovate and grow, taking advantage of opportunities of the digital world.
It has been necessary that global cooperation and sustainability agendas recognise the impact of cultural projects in the achievement of indicators and results as regards development and well-being, in order for European nation states to understand that culture and development have to be considered, hand-in-hand, when designing national policies. The time has perhaps come for municipalities and local governments to also put this issue back on their agendas.
Gemma Carbó, chair of the Board of the Interarts Foundation
(First published by Interarts Foundation on 11 June 2019)