In this panel discussion we held together with Culture Action Europe on 30/4, Swedish cultural operators gathered for a conversation about what Cultural Deal for Europe Nordic cooperation brings with it for challenges and opportunities in Sweden.
The Cultural Deal for Europe is a call by the European cultural society to recognise and include culture in the European project to shape the Europe of the future.
Niels Righolt, CKI Denmark, Vice-President of Culture Action Europe
Karin Lundmark, Administration for Cultural Development, Västra Götaland Region
Hanna Olsson, International Resource Office (IRO) Trans Europe Halles
Hugi Ásgeirsson, Future
Johanna Ivstedt, iLDance
Intercult manager: Iwona Preis, CEO Intercult
Culture serves as a living resource for society and the economy and is an important resource for the challenges the Corona crisis brings for the future. We as cultural actors want to reach out to politicians to recognise the culture of several policy areas, notably digitalisation and the new green transition, because these two areas are central to the recovery plan. Culture can concretise what can be done with these crisis sums. How does this reflect and how can we broaden our cultural work?
Niels Righolt , Vice-President of Culture action Europe, who is also the initiator of the Cultural Deal for Europe, describes this initiative as an attempt to put culture on the agenda and be included in civil society coordination. The aim is to place culture at the heart of European cooperation. Today, culture is not at its heart, but as a sector is only part of the field of education.
Culture Action Europe is concerned about the disappearance of culture in politics and in our societies. This disappearance became particularly evident in connection with the pandemic. At the same time, we are seeing an increase in cultural values as polarisation and nationalism increase across Europe.
CaEU therefore wanted to set an agenda and challenge policy-makers by creating the Cultural Deal for Europe as a kind of umbrella strategy and changing the image of Europe through culture. In January, Swedish and other Nordic cultural actors gathered to review national priorities in the Nordic region, and have now started this Nordic chapter.
Karin Lundmark, who works at the administration for cultural development in the Västra Götaland region, talks about the organization's perspective on what it is like to work cross-sectionally with municipalities and local organizations. She believes that lobbyists, or border guards in the public administration, are needed in order for other area representatives to have a better understanding and the same cultural view. This is a challenge that requires talks and communication within the municipalities. You have to see culture as a resource and clearly show what culture can actually contribute to, and adapt arguments for culture depending on who you have a conversation with, while starting from common goals.
Hugi Ásgeirsson, who represents Prospective, says that they have been forced to be independent because there is no union for resources for the business. Being dependent on the municipality is scary, as it is up to politicians what is prioritized and there is also an advantage not to depend on a municipality, as you have the opportunity to be wider and freer. Traditional established cultural actors can get nervous by new initiatives. It is therefore important to rethink and include both established and smaller actors for more interdisciplinary contexts- which should come from more policy areas.
Johanna Ivstet from iLdance talks about how to try to work with the green deal in mind. the climate is something that affects everyone, and mobility is an important factor in cultural work. Being able to work locally and collectively but at the same time internationally is a challenge, but instead of travelling across Europe, you can instead travel nationally and choose specific times when traveling internationally. It has been very common early on to travel far for short meetings in the cultural sector. This needs to be streamlined and coordinated in a new way. Finding the balance in mobility is very important for the cultural sector and internationalisation. You need to talk more about growth and at the same time sustainability.
Hanna Olsson from Trans Europe Halles also believes that you must be able to work more digitally, but you must also be seen in reality for good cooperation. One strategy for this is to review how to travel and sustainable relationships where you have strong partnerships is therefore important.
Hanna also believes that in order for smaller cultural actors and micro-organizations to work more internationally, more initiatives are needed that are simple, with less administrative work. Today, it is often too difficult and complicated paperwork for smaller operators to apply for support.
Finally, the question was asked of the participants about what their wishful thinking looks like for how to work with the restoration and what the future could have looked like in Sweden for culture. The participants all agreed that it is important to be able to work more experimentally and process-oriented, rather than results-oriented in order to be able to work intereiciplinally and innovatively. There is little room for this today when it comes to public support. It is also necessary to challenge and be able to implement more international projects from local and national support in order to open up more international work.