Creative & Cultural Industries

Culture as a way to build international relations

Caroline Wendt
May 20, 2019

In connection with the work of the project Cultural and Creative Spaces and Cities (CCSC), Marjolein Cremer and Violante Torre visited Future by Lund. They both represent the independent organization ECF, European Cultural Foundation. "My impression so far is that Lund as a city is open to change and collaboration", says Marjolein Cremer.

Cultural and Creative Spaces and Cities (CCSC) is a policy project co-funded by the Creative Europe program of the European Union. The project started with a kick off in November 2018 in Lund and is led by Trans Europe Halles, a network of cultural centres initiated by citizens and artists, headquartered in Lund. One of the project partners is the European Cultural Foundation (ECF) based in Amsterdam. ECF is an independent, impact driven organisation with more than 60 years of experience as a player in European cultural policy. ECF aims for an open, democratic and inclusive Europe and support cultural change makers through grants, public policy and exchange programmes.

- ECF is driven by the idea to unite Europe through cultural and educational activities of common interest. This year the theme is Democracy needs imagination. We had an open call for ideas about actions to address the negative discourse in and on Europe, but it is closed since 23 April because of the overwhelming responses, says Marjolein Cremer. Our policy department has also done a lot of work to position culture within the EU-programme. Now culture is one of the programmes within the EU policy called Creative Europe. Culture can be a soft way to find international relations.

In the CCSC project research, Urban Labs (testbeds) and policy making will use participatory and co-creative methods from the cultural and creative sector, to find solutions and develop policies and practises that could work for the betterment of society. The project works with local partners and bottom-up approaches that engage citizens to build ownership and empower communities. This purpose is close to the aims of the ECF.

- In CCSC we try to look at local practices from all over Europe and see how we can fuel local governance and democracy in new kind of ways. We try to put practices into policies by learning and testing with the Urban Labs and develop from there policy recommendations on both local and European level. We need to think of and do democracy in a different way.

Violante Torre recently joined ECF and now works mainly with the CCSC project.

- Each research partner follows two of the urban labs. We will focus on the labs which is led by Lund and Region Skåne. The urban labs are particularly interesting, because of the variety of actors they represent. They vary between cultural organisations, municipal and regional authorities, cultural and creative spaces who are all committed to explore complex urban challenges, to invest in participatory governance and commoning approaches. The problem is that collaboration and exchange is hard to sustain, and these actors are often unaware of the needs and visions of the others. The CCSC project represents the occasion to have different cultural actors meet, exchange, learn from each other’s experience and commit to more horizontal and collaborative approaches.

So - what’s your impression of the project so far?

- I think that Lund as a city is open to change and collaboration, says Marjolein. I think this is really rare. In this project we are trying to bring different stakeholders together, for example cultural organisations with authorities. This is to test new ways of working together with culture at the heart and to show that culture can contribute to policy making. It´s a big challenge, but we are optimistic – and I think the participants from the City of Lund are as well.

CCSC partners are Trans Europe Halles, the City of Lund and Region Skåne, Sweden, European Cultural Foundation (ECF), The Netherlands, P2PFoundation, The Netherlands, University Antwerp, Belgium, Hablarenarte, Spain, Kaapelitalo Kiinteistö Oy, Finland, Creative Industries Košice. Slovakia, Ambasada Casa PLAI, Romania.

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