Ideas Agora

Today we ask you to jam in a different way: you can open yourself a brand new discussion to share your ideas or join already open discussions below.

The focus:

We, the people of culture, let our fragmentation reduce our impact on society.
What is the first thing we need to do to reverse this trend? To become a "we"?

From I to We

For too long we have accepted that everything can be replaced by something newer and more efficient, shiny, smart. For too long we have accepted the commodification of everything.

For too long we have surrendered to a short-term approach to work, in politics even to our private life.

For too long most of us have evaded from focusing our responsibility towards the society at large and progressively disconnected from the rest of the civil society.  And now that the majority of citizens do not consider culture as a priority with all the related implication in period of shrinking public spending

The historical moment we are living in requires to take back into our life and thinking broader perspectives, made of longer periods, wider spectrum of topics and a the world.

In order to, a new way of thinking culture is a necessity though it will not suffice to revers the tide of political and private decision that impact in reducing the resources available to cultural activities.

Having impact today requires bringing much closer to the citizens’ hearts and minds the notion that culture is a necessary element in people lives and for the development of our civilisation.

That calls for inward changes.

Having been the past years discourse over culture somehow ‘self-centred’ the today constituency in support of new and more effective policies to foster cultural development are fragile.

We should take new ways of thinking about culture and our role in society.

Culture enables evolution and human development and should be understood as one of the key components towards a new social contract and citizenship. Culture as a common-good and not as a commodity. 

Artist, cultural operators, intellectuals, scientists as enablers, “empowerers” as supporters of everybody emancipation. Social actors and not only creators.

The surge for a Europe-wide movement for culture that is more than ever a necessity to help our society to step out up from its depression. That is what we should and can do.

If we stop considering us just as a sum of I and start combining the may I with some WE.

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  • My two cents in the ongoing discussion that calls for the transition from ‘I’ to ‘We’ as the 72-hour Jamm'art session is coming to a close:
    perhaps we can get inspired by the Solidarity movement which has had an enormous impact in Poland, and Europe and the work carried out on its rhizomatic structure by Roman Sebastyanski,-a researcher and new friend- that perhaps we can learn about.
  • The question, of course, is how to create a “we” among artists but a much stronger question is to achieve a “we” among artists, audience, politicians and people with the financial power in order to understand a beneficial “we” of us all. I appreciate a former cultural minister in Germany for having pointed out, that in arts and education politicians always talk about “sponsoring” whereas the word “governmental expenditures” is used when it comes to the budget of the defense department e.g. This choice of words already shows a certain mind set, maybe that some “we’s” are more “we’s” than others. I strongly believe in education. Education means also listening to the other and learning how to listen to the other is the best path to prevent wars. So a “we” is not an ivory tower luxury but a social necessity. We need to take time to appreciate us, the other and culture! But – what else is new?!...
  • It is important to recognize a wee among artists in a sisterhood that streches through generations, and not within one generation alone, perhaps as far back as to the artists of the 68-generation and before, included as well the written literature and ideas since thousands of years ago, it will most probably strengthen us all, a ´we´ across centuries and continents.. embrace..
  • Hello Alice,
    Thanks for your good questions. I try to answer in written if that is not my best. But before let me point out that lasting political movement have been in general resulting by the combination of needs, wills and new thoughts/theories. Mostly activated by minorities that first or more sharply perceived the needs and understood that many others shared those need but not yet fully aware of.
    In our case I think the need is there, clear, neat: if we not substantially change life priorities and style we (most of us) are condemned to live dark times. Dark I mean: fundamental rights restrictions, increased exploitation and poverty, ... In short receding, giving away the gain those coming before us made by fighting for rights, peace, ... just name it.
    This change can only be based on a different set of cultural capabilities, may be better on a different balance between them: we have been taught to compete but not much to cooperate; to be stronger as individuals but not much to empathise, to be focused but not much to be curious; ... A different social contract can only work (and be conceived) if we learn or rediscover some cultural capabilities.
    In my view each of us can contribute to this shift and those working in culture and are among the best placed to do it. But too many don't see themselves as a game changer and do not reflect enough over the implication that being a game changer would require to their way of being and doing.
    So my first point is awareness: about the challenge, the potential, the responsibility, the necessity to considering the expression of him/her self as part of a wider endeavour.
    In a parallel blog Bel, beautiful catalan author, writes "A LOT of people is necessary to make change effective, when 1% of humanity concentrates most of economical, political and military power and doesn’t want things to change at all, even if things aren’t looking that good for the other 99%. So maybe a way to join forces is to remember we are a part of this very common 99% of people, as special (and weird, and queer, and talented, and awkward) as we might feel. And to remind it through our art to those who don’t really feel that comfortable after all: hey, you’re not a part of the really privileged 1%, are you? Why would you accept their violence, their injustice, their rules? Come change the world with me. Let’s make a WE as big as we can. Because the real “other”, the real “they” is only 1% of humanity. Let’s not forget that."
    It moves me I'd add, and try to enable, trigger the new necessary cultural capabilities.
    Then you, Alice, ask:Do we really need revolution or is reform of the cultural structures still possible?
    And I ask myself how revolutions can be made in democracy? Because I think a revolution done via democratic means is necessary. To this extent you may consider that the majority of right holders no longer vote nor participate in decision-making. This is a threat to democracy but also an opportunity for those that with determination try to build up new constituencies, dignified ones but also dangerous others, like those at the dawn of the 20th century crowned Mussolini first and Hitler after.
    Can we seize this risk/opportunity created by the shortfall of our democracies, Can we join forces with other civil society expressions or just leave the space for others to occupy it? I think we occupy the democracy.
    But in order to do that we must imagine that WE or better WES is not only possible but desirable. And here is the rub; without giving up a bit of the aura of being special, different, unique it is impossible to partner. Bel make perfectly clear what make artists peculiar, what the diversity consist of and how nonetheless we are part of that 99%.
    So, in the end, instead advocating the sector or debating policy for the sector, we shall lobby and help the sector to team up with other civil society players, making the best of each peculiarity to fight in support of common causes.
    • Bel certainly put part of this problem into a very moving poetic language. I still cannot fully agree with the words though. I honestly do not believe that it is this 1% of privileged humanity responsible for all the injustice, violence and evil of the world. There is no "they" and "us" - we all share the same portion of responsibility for our lack of interest and impassivity. Of course, those with economic power have much bigger impact than the ones without it. But we can all be interested in our lives and values we hold. As you yourself continue, the number of voters in our democratic systems is sadly decreasing. Abstaining from our right to vote, that is not something we can blame the one percent elite for, we can only point back to ourselves. If we are able to overcome our laziness and mobilize, of course inter-sectoral collaboration is necessary. But why couldn't each of the professional sectors preserve this certain uniqueness they possess? You do not have to give up on these unique traits, specific skills, professional training - I do not think we should, since only through specific skills each and every one can contribute with their own share, and thus make for strong collaboration.

      Just one more thought on your mentioning of the dark times. I have been thinking of Gunter Grass since the start of this session, given his affiliation with Gdansk and I think this quote is quite fitting to your words:
      "Melancholy has ceased to be an individual phenomenon, an exception. It has become the class privilege of the wage earner, a mass state of mind that finds its cause wherever life is governed by production quotas." (the Diary of a Snail, 1972)
  • Hi all, very interesting thoughts that made me want to join the discussion. I agree Europe needs a common culture movement. It can start with a discussion like this. An online jamming about form, possibilities.
    I think many cultural institutions in Europe are trying to please the politicians, as they are financially dependent on them. That way, art is being pushed more and more into the commercial corner. If Europe spends some money on supporting established institutions, instead of only new start ups and projects, many will have the chance to use them for advertising quality as opposed to present only what sells by itself. I work in an orchestra and my experience is mainly from the classical music field, but my theory is the arts do not have appropriate PR and advertising. We do not reach potential audience because of lack of understanding in the administrations and lack of finances. Many examples show that a product that gets a lot of advertisements becomes quickly more popular.
    So one point would be creating a possibility, through financially supporting established cultural institutions, to invest in big-scale advertisement and for focusing on the quality of the art itself.
    Another possibility is creating an on-line working group for an ongoing discussion about the purpose and value in arts. Define the need of the arts and make it more present in everyday life, where people are not looking for it. Instead of verbaly trying to convince others, that we do not have a bright future without culture being in the center of attention, it is maybe possible to show what the arts do to you and then take the discussion. I know this is already happenning many places, but i feel european money often support entrepreneurs and big projects, whereas continuous local projects can have more impact for understanding of the necessity of culture.
    Feels good to be discussing "how" and not "if" culture should be the very core of EU, of education, of being.
    • Hej Yana! Nice point and I agree that art has a lot to work on in terms of PR, aside from the well-established names in the art world, both institution-wise and as individual artists. I am curious about your idea of "creating an on-line working group for an ongoing discussion about the purpose and value in arts, define the need of the arts and make it more present in everyday life, where people are not looking for it."
      This has been already happening online and in private circles on many levels, this be one of the examples. However, if such a working group would be to achieve any results, it would have to be stretched further beyond its online span. The opinions voiced on such platfrom would need to be taken into consideration by formal governmental bodies or initiatives with power to implement them, otherwise it would again result only in words of concerns, but not actions to solve them. Even if such platform would contribute to the discourse on problematics of art and culture in the European institutions, without formal structure it would never be taken seriously enough to be considered capable to establish any concrete policies.
    • Could be if creatives are part of politician's teams. Create that neccesity will create a tool
      • Thumbs up for this. Now we only need to convince the politicians to take us on board !
        • Or we need to take enough politicians on board and make them a part of it?
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