28 Sep 2018

An Agenda For Change

An Agenda for Change is an article published in Cultures of We? Europe and the search for a new narrative (Culture Report / EUNIC Year Book vol.9 to be published at the end of 2018) and written by cultural advisor Gottfried Wagner.

Culture as a pillar of development, a driver of a creative economy, as an arena for democratic development – the need for cultural action, cooperation and co-creation is undisputed”: In this article, Gottfried Wagner explains how culture and enhanced international cultural relations may be a great tool to overcome the latest challenges Europe has been facing. For better and sustainable cultural relations, Gottfried Wagner recommends pilot projects to “establish active and resilient cooperation among key European players”. The pilot project will ideally rely on three main areas of urgencies:

  • Geopolitical urgencies: with a focus on regions with special need for cultural partners;
  • Managerial urgencies: strategic European pilot projects should be used as test models of shared ownership and effective management;
  • Thematic urgencies: themes such as cultural heritage, innovation, creative economy etc. should be pilot projects with European and global ‘interests’ and cultural cooperation.

In order to assure the effectiveness of any projects, they should be co-funded by the Member States, government agencies in partner countries, the European Institutions and by collaborative partners which include independent civic and private sectors. Finally, Gottfried Wagner insists on the necessity of building new leadership capacity, also in three points:

  • Strengthen certain instruments, such as the ‘platform for culture in external relations’, for example, by entrusting it with the project management cycle of the pilot period, supported by EU delegations;
  • Seek out and support project partnerships with NGOs and foundations, as well as private partners with a robust economic background and interest in a favourable international climate;
  • Create a strong, flexible, temporary EU work unit augmented by the departments involved in the cultural/creative industries and external relations, including the European External Action Service (EEAS), the Commission’s Directorates for Education and Culture (EAC), International Cooperation and Development (DEVCO) and Neighbourhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations (NEAR). The whole process, but particularly the implementation, needs to be critically monitored by the European Parliament.

Overall, this paper, among many other topics, raises the question of the necessary European involvement in external cultural relations in parallel with the necessity to share this debate globally, besides a willingness to question the “European hegemonic views and practices”. The author invites EUNIC and other networks involved in external cultural relations to put a global perspective on any content they work on.