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Culturelink review, no.35/November 2001 - contents - imprint - archive

The Workshop on Culture and European Policy

The workshop on Culture and EU Policy, to be held in Brussels, 14 December 2001, is part of the project 'Cultural NGOs and the EU institutional reform 2001-2004' initiated by the European Forum for the Arts and Heritage - EFAH. The workshop is one of six workshops during the Citizens' Assembly. Each workshop is organized by a different NGO and deals with a variety of subject areas relevant for the debate on how the civil society gets involved in the process of reshaping Europe.

The initial preparatory meeting for this workshop took place on 22 October 2001 in Brussels. The participants, including representatives of the EFAH member organizations and several observers, discussed some fundamental questions of the relationship between NGOs, the cultural field and the EU. They discussed some specific documents such as the Declaration of Laeken and the process 2001-2004, the position papers by the Belgian Presidency and the 'wake-up call for Europe', issued by 'Notre Europe', in order to illustrate the current state of the 'official' discussion on the future of Europe.

The participants agreed that the workshop on 14 December should concentrate on questions such as:

  • What kind of Europe do we want in relation to culture?
  • What is the impact of culture?
  • Should culture be the EU competence or national competence? Should EU competence be limited to mobility and co-operation?
  • If Europe should intervene, on which level and to what extent?
  • Are NGOs satisfied with Article 151 and its implementation?
  • How should the principle of subsidiarity operate in terms of culture?
  • How to prevent political exploitation and instrumentalisation of culture?
  • What does cultural diversity mean?

If you would like to find out more about this workshop, join the EFAH on-line forum or learn more about EFAH activities, please contact: EFAH, Rue de Suisse, 18, B-1060 Brussels, Belgium, tel.: +32 2 534 1150; fax: +32 2 537 4910; e-mail: efah@skynet.be; http://www.efah.org

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To mark the European Year of Languages 2001, the Council of Europe and the European Union have launched a website providing details about this initiative in 11 languages.

The aim is not just to foster linguistic diversity and richness, but also to encourage Europeans to acquire skills in multiple languages.

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The European Commission's Research in the Digital Heritage Area

Digital heritage and cultural content is one of the five main research areas under the Multimedia Content and Tools of the Information Society Technologies (IST) programme. The current work is aimed at expanding the contribution of libraries, museums and archives to the emerging culture economy, including economic, scientific and technological development. It is coordinated by the DG Information Society's Cultural Heritage Applications unit in Luxembourg.

Work in this area focuses on creating and making accessible a European cultural information landscape as part of the Information Society, by stimulating and supporting cultural memory organisations in research and development actions targeted on the use of state-of-the-art technologies to provide innovative networked services. This means applying creative technology applications to open Europe's warehouses of cultural content.

The aim is to facilitate creation of a sustainable and rich European cultural information space that is easy to identify, easy to access, and easy to navigate by all European citizens, whoever they may be, wherever they may be, and whenever they may require it.

The mission is to define and establish a framework for cultural heritage information comprising agreed infrastructures, standards, methodologies, guidelines and diverse incentives for creating, collecting, linking, exchanging and using cultural content. Actions integrate into, and supplement, existing national, European and international initiatives. The key participants are Europe's memory institutions, both public and private, with a particular focus on new alliances between them and with technology and communications providers.

Following this, three research priorities are identified:

  • Ensuring integrated access to collections and materials held in libraries, museums and archives;
  • Improving the operational efficiency of large-scale content holdings by means of powerful interfacing and management techniques;
  • Preserving and accessing the multimedia content of various types, including electronic materials and surrogates of physical objects.

Since 1999, seven action lines on these research issues have been published and around 100 action schemes are in the process of being funded or negotiated.

For more information on the digital heritage research area, please contact: Mr. Bernard Smith, European Commission, DG Information Society, Cultural Heritage Applications, rue Alcide de Gasperi, EUFO, L-2920 Luxembourg; e-mail: digicult@cec.eu.int; http://www.cordis.lu/ist/ka3/digicult/

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Les Rencontres de Rotterdam

The Rotterdam Declaration

Elected officials from local and regional authorities throughout the European Continent held, on the invitation of the City of Rotterdam, European Capital of Culture 2001, their annual meeting on the 18th, 19th and 20th October. 150 participants representing 90 authorities from 22 European countries took part in the plenary sessions and workshops and discussed the issues related to cultural policymaking in their city, in their country and in Europe in general, on the topic of Social Cohesion and Cultural Diversity.

The recent events in the United States of America and also in parts of Europe and Asia, the tension that is still strong in the South-East of Europe, are changing our ways of seeing and encourage us to renew our approach on the mutations at work in our societies, the development of our European cities and the role of cultural policies initiated by elected representatives of the citizens.

With this in mind, elected officials would like to reaffirm as a conclusion to these debates that:

  • Access to culture is a fundamental right in our societies, an essential component for democratic freedom and political action;
  • State intervention is a central lever for cultural policies to take shape;
  • Cultural policymaking plays a central role for social integration and economic development, which implies that cultural aspect should be taken into consideration in the making of all policies;
  • A necessary link should exist between artists and politicians based on autonomy and responsibility in order to improve the quality of professional standards and contribute to the social responsibility of arts organisations;
  • It is necessary to encourage a fruitful dialogue between local authorities from East and West to promote the circulation of artists and professionals, reinforce cultural democracy and set up collaborative projects.

Cultural officials support the battles lead at all levels to preserve cultural diversity, to encourage interdisciplinary projects in the arts and sciences and to encompass the new social trends of the young generations.

They will work so that national governments and European institutions provide a more prominent place for existing cultures and national cultural heritage in the European Union's policies and be recognised in forthcoming European treaties as the founding political elements of European integration that must take shape through the establishment of a critical public arena (media, Parliament and NGOs). They will take action so that cultural initiatives at work in their cities be relayed to the Council, the Parliament, the Committee of the Regions, the Commission and be integrated into their programme of action.

A meeting of the Committee of Les Rencontres and the General Meeting of its members will take place in the European Capitals of Culture 2002, Brugge (18th, 19th & 20th March) and Salamanca (22nd & 23rd November). The White Paper on cultural policies will be finalised in Salamanca.

Rotterdam, 20th October 2001

For more information, please contact: Les Rencontres, 3, rue Roger, 75014 Paris, France, tel.: +33 1 56 54 26 36; fax: +33 1 45 38 70 13; e-mail: info@les-rencontres.org; http://www.les-rencontres.org