Last week at European Cultural Foundation’s annual Europe Day festival, Culture Action Europe (CAE) took the stage to launch the new project, “Pop the Vote: Culture on the Ballot.” Co-funded by the European Parliament, Pop the Vote works with young artists in 13 EU countries to act as Changemakers in their own communities and mobilise them to participate in the European Parliamentary Elections 2024.
Live from Amsterdam, CAE’s Projects and Communications Manager, Maya Weisinger sat down with Noelia Martín-Montalvo (Maastricht Institute of the Arts) to discuss her work, especially as it connects with the importance of arts and culture as a political language, civic engagement through art, and the important role young creatives play in shaping the future of Europe.
Noelia is an interdisciplinary art student at the Maastricht Institute of the Arts whose practice focuses on amplifying the stories of those on the front lines of the climate crisis. Working primarily with visual mediums like film and photography, her work relies on participatory storytelling to empower individuals to become changemakers. When asked how artists position themselves as agents of change, Nolia noted: “It’s really about thinking of ourselves as catalyzers of stories and promoters of change. When we think about Europe, there is this inevitable value of democracy and freedom of speech: this Union in diversity. This can only happen when we collaborate with people and create spaces to work on something that is inherited from communities and put into perspective into the wider public.”
While the interview focused on the work that Noelia is doing in her community, the discussion also introduced the Pop the Vote project with a call for other Changemakers like Noelia to apply to participate. The project calls on young artists to engage their communities leading up to the 2024 EU Parliamentary elections. 52 artists, student artists and cultural professionals engaged in political discussions around social issues will be chosen to be Pop the Vote Changemakers.
Young artists activate citizen participation
The 2019 European Parliamentary elections saw a significant increase in voter turnout, with the highest participation in 25 years. Young and first-time voters played a crucial role in driving this turnout. However, young voters still participate less than older generations, making it important to engage them in the upcoming 2024 elections.
The European Parliament’s 2019 Eurobarometer post-electoral survey revealed that people voted because they felt it was their duty as citizens, supported the EU, or believed that voting could bring about change. Younger voters showed more hesitancy in their decision-making, focusing on issues like climate change, human rights, and democracy.
To foster a mature EU-wide political debate and encourage youth participation, innovative and creative solutions from artists, particularly young ones, are crucial. They can contribute fresh ideas, and experimental approaches, and mobilize diverse communities. Pop the Vote aims to empower young artists as changemakers, equipping them with tools and knowledge to engage their communities in the electoral process and motivate participation. Additionally, the project seeks to increase general awareness of the EU and the role of its institutions, particularly the democratically elected European Parliament. Utilizing contemporary cultural production, the project will encourage active citizen participation in the 2024 elections, which present a historic opportunity to bridge the generational divide and strengthen democratic engagement.
Pop the Vote across Europe
On the basis of low voter turnout in the European Parliamentary elections 2019, a strong representation of Culture Action Europe members and countries with comparatively higher voter turn out to act as an inspiration for others to engage more in the EU debates, 13 EU countries have been selected for this project: Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, France, Germany, Hungary, Italy, The Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Slovenia, Spain and Sweden.
Culture Action Europe members from the Pop the Vote countries will support the project by helping to find brilliant Changemakers from far and wide. These members are ambassadors of the Pop the Vote project in each country they represent. You can find more about each of them by clicking on the links below:
- Bulgaria | A25
- Croatia | Clubture
- Cyprus | D6 Culture EU
- France | Association des Centres culturels de rencontre (ACCR)
- Germany | Kulturpolitische Gesellschaft e.V. (KupoGe)
- Hungary | ProProgressione
- Italy | Biennale des jeunes créateurs de l’Europe et de la Méditerranée (BJCEM)
- The Netherlands | Kunsten 92
- The Netherlands | European Cultural Foundation
- Poland | Krytyka Polityczna
- Portugal | Mapa das Ideias
- Slovenia | Motovila
- Spain | Red de Espacios y Agentes de Cultura Comunitaria, REACC
- Sweden | Space-Time Works (STW)
Changemakers in action
In September, Culture Action Europe will hold an open call for applications for artists and cultural professionals between the ages of 18-30 living in one of the Pop the Vote countries mentioned above. Pop the Vote will select 52 Changemakers: four from each country, making 52 Changemakers total.
Changemakers will then all come together to the Changemakers’ Playground Camp: an immersive 1-week training in Belgium that combines theoretical learnings about the EU, its Institutions, and the 2024 elections as well as theories of change, methodologies of artivism and audience engagement, public campaigning and communications.
After returning to their communities back home, Changemakers will organise two election engagement events in the month leading up to the elections each in their respective countries, reaching 5200 citizens in total. Using the foundational training acquired in the Playground Camp, Changemakers will design events that speak to their communities and also their artistic practice. From public performances to film projects to DJ sets to zine launches, Changemakers are open to how they use their arts-based approaches to intensify the effort of engagement in the run-up to the elections.
Coming up next
- May 2023: Public launch of the project on Europe Day 2023
- September 2023: Open Call for Changemakers
- February 2024: Changemakers’ Playground Camp
- May 2024: Pop the Vote Campaign and Changemakers Act
- June 2024: EU Parliamentary Elections