THE FUTURE OF THE EUROPEAN PROJECT
Migration & Culture
Conference at Europahuset, Regeringsgatan 65, Stockholm
December 9th, 08.45-16.00, 2nd floor
Intercult organizes in collaboration with Riksteatern (Swedish National Touring Theatre), Culture Action Europe and Europe Direct Intercult a full day conference on Migration & Culture. The conference is part of Intercult’s continuous temperature measuring of the European project’s future. That is: Where is EU situated right now in terms of culture and society? Can EU reinvent itself as a sustainable ”cultural project”? And above all: What does the future look like?
On the 20th September 2016, the United Nations refugee agency UNHCR appreciated that there were 45 million refugees on the globe. This is an exceptional figure and an exceptional situation. In Sweden, 2015, about 163 000 people applied for asylum. How is Sweden, Europe and the global community suppose to respond to these events? In this context has cultural meetings a key role to play.
The field of culture is one of the few remaining areas in our divided and unequal world where you still can, and is encouraged to, interact physically in the same room with people who are completely different from yourself. Culture gives us, by definition, a more fluid identity; allows us to be in someone else’s shoes, and acknowledge that the other person’s problems is also our problems. Culture gives us a shared space in a segregated society; it creates meeting places in the public space – in a time that is otherwise characterized by privatization and more or less involuntary participation in passive consumption. Culture is the lifeblood for a continent to thrive, and be able to developing into an area of rich diversity, energy, productivity and peace.
No subject is probably more important and debated right now in the EU than migration. Intercult wants to illuminate the topic from different perspectives, both based on concrete cultural initiatives aimed at newly arrived, and proposals to policy changes that place culture at the heart of our first encounters with migrants. How can we, based on our cultural competence facilitate to create better conditions for a fruitful exchange with newcomers to Sweden? What is the role of culture in the context of migration in general, and how can we with cultural practices and methods create strategies that reduce xenophobia and totalitarian dogma in politics, as well as in interpersonal relationships?
We have chosen to divide the conference into three interconnected parts, each of which has its own moderator. The three parts together form a result-oriented narrative:
– Moving Inwards
We need cultural action and policy making that:
• Develops cultural leadership
• Creates role models that have a multiplying effect
• Encourages participatory effect
– Moving Outwards
We need to drastically reduce the barriers to migrant participation in the cultural sector, at all levels by:
• Recognizing and validating refugees’ and migrants’ skills and talents, both formal and informal
• Creating links, networks and platforms between local agents from a wide range of creative industries and newcomers
• Making space for different subjective voices to come together in dialogue
– Moving Together
We call for cultural actors and policy makers to:
• Provide accessible local public space
• Open up existing institutions to these forms of meetings and exchanges
• Create new spaces/places where these can happen, including in remote areas
Intercult Executive Program Director Chris Torch has represented Sweden in the working group created by the EU within the framework of the structured dialogue between the European Commission and the cultural sector; Voices of Culture – The role of culture in promoting inclusion in the context of migration (September 2016). This work has resulted in an inventory of European cultural projects aimed at migrants, and a number of recommendations to the EU and its Member States. We will present the final document at the conference.