The 1st episode of the European Conference 2020 took place on August 31. Under the theme of “Culture’s place in our lives”, Nicolas BarbieriMafalda Damaso, Anne Torreggiani, Alessandra Gariboldi, Valentina MontaltoJordi Pascual and Lene Struck-Madsen shared with all the participants their thoughts and reflections on topics such as new cultural formats, the transition to digital cultural experiences, inequalities, cultural participation, cultural needs of citizens, the role of local governments in leading change in culture, or the importance of co-designing cultural policies from a cross-sectoral approach.

The COVID-19 is drawing attention to the necessity of creating a different relationship between culture, communities, practitioners and economy. Definitely, the first step to trigger change is to adopt a people centred approach, making culture relevant to people. 

Anne Torreggiani, Mafalda Damaso and Nicolas Barbieri participated in the Panel Session. Anne Torregiani opened the debate presented a research based on UK population, highlighting the importance of data to build strategies to implement a people centred approach.  She opened the floor asking what lasting change will COVID-19 bring and presenting the “ Evidence Hub”, which brings together a range of resources and information on audience development to help cultural organisations respond to COVID. 

According to the above-mentioned research, COVID-19 crisis shows an opportunity for incentivise a far higher degree of (digitally-enabled) audience centred approach and experimentation. Under current circumstances, artists and cultural organisations need to experiment new ways to create meaning and community.

Nicolás Barbieri is co-author of the first study on cultural consumptions and cultural needs in Barcelona. He presented the study approaching the debate from the cultural inequalities perspective. This survey aims to identify and counter inequality in cultural participation. It is a pioneering city tool that was promoted by the Institute of Culture (ICUB). It goes beyond cultural consumption and looks at the needs, participation and perception of culture, taking into account variables such as territory, socio-economic level, education, gender and family.

Policy-makers should put at the heart of cultural policies the necessity of working on equity. Therefore, cultural policy agenda has to take into account cultural needs of individuals and communities as the only way to face inequalities and share diversity.

Mafalda Damaso jointed the points made by the former panelist and tackled the idea of cultural participation from a theoretical perspective. What do we mean by participation? What kind of participation do we want? 

There is a gap between what we do in the sector and how we talk about what we do to enable cultural participation, and thus she put an accent on the idea of participation as an active exercise of diversity in the social field, characterising participation as a way  to create opportunities for different audiences to get together. Then, she suggested the need to provide skills, knowledge and tools to cultural managers to become diversity managers.

Cultural sector was not sustainable the way it was, so it is necessary to think about the sector we want and identify a different way of doing things.  This claim for change is the starting point in the long table discussion, where the debate referred to cultural policies at the local level and the necessity of linking these
policies to big societal challenges and to our communities. 

Cities can have a prominent role in leading change in the cultural sector. Nevertheless, policies at the local level are written without taking into account a variety of actors and stakeholders which work with migrants, gender issues or climate change.  Are we ready to work in a cross-sectorial way? How are we going to build this connection? We can’t do this without the audience, the leitmotiv of Adeste+

In this sense, Lene Struck-Madsen pointed out the importance of asking our core audiences. She presented Applaus project (a national audience development project from Denmark) that aims to help the Danish performing arts industry to reach a larger and more diverse audience. 

The lack of interest is one of the main reasons for no participation in cultural activities. Therefore, Valentina Montalto pointed out the necessity of thinking culture beyond the emergency.  She shared this interesting resource, “The Cultural and Creative Cities Monitor: 2019 Edition”

The humanity is facing an enormous challenge. The COVID-19 crisis has an impact in all dimensions of our lives but is hitting the cultural life of our communities very severely. Because of this, Jordi Pascual identified the COVID-19 crisis as an invitation to get out of our comfort zone. As mentioned before, cities can have a prominent role in leading change and consequently he talked about the cultural mobilization of cities and local governments in the COVID-19 crisis  


You can see the session in our Vimeo channel.







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