2016 Assembly of Compendium Experts in Malta
The 15th Assembly of Compendium has been held from 17 to 18 October 2016 in St. Julians/Malta in the wider context of the 7th IFACCA World Summit on Arts and Culture. Inter alia, this year's Assembly dealt with.
World Forum for Democracy
7-9 November 2016 in Strasbourg
Save the date! The 2016 Forum on "Education for Democracy" focuses on how education can help bridge the social divide and become a real asset for our diverse democracies.The Forum will analyse the impact of education systems on democracy and identify innovative initiatives and practices which can make education (both formal and non-formal) more democracy-centred and enhance grassroots innovation. The Forum will discuss not only what education can do for democracy but also what democracy can do for education. More details, also about achievements of the 2015 World Forum, can be found in a Council of Europe Newsletter.
Successful Assembly of Compendium Experts in Wroclaw
With a focus on "A Human Rights Approach to Cultural Policies" (see Agenda), the 14th Compendium Assembly has been held on 12-13 November 2015 in Wroclaw, in the broader context of the city's role as European Capital of Culture 2016. Similar to the previous Assemblies in Brussels and Vienna, the Wroclaw event contributed to the follow-up of the Ministerial Conference on Culture (Moscow 2013). In addition, it examined the latest developments and potential improvements of our information and monitoring system. The presentations and debates of the Assembly with Public Forum attracted ca. 90 cultural specialists from all parts of Europe and Asia. (Photo: Asian WorldCP experts relaxing during an Assembly pause)....
"Cultural Policies in Europe: current tendencies"
International seminar in Kiev
The first in a potential series of Compendium "Country-Comparisons" has been staged September 2015 in Kiev/Ukraine. Its overall aim: comparing cultural policy developments in Ukraine with those in other European countries (cf. programme).
Deputy Minister of Culture for European Integration, Andrii Vitrenko, and Oleksandr Butsenko (Director, Ukrainian Centre for Cultural Studies) welcomed.
Digitisation and its Impact on the Cultural Sector
One of the four new thematic areas of the "Culture & Democracy" section of the Compendium can highlight in particular how "culture stands as the soul of democracy": namely the area of "Digitisation and Culture".
Following on from last years’ first multi-stakeholder Platform Exchange on Culture and Digitisation (Baku/Azerbaijan) a Council of Europe Recommendation on the “Internet of Citizens” has been prepared and should be launched later this year.
UNESCO Diversity Specialists Selected (2015-17)
"Compendium" experts among them.
Among those selected to be part of the 2015-17 UNESCO Expert Facility aimed at supporting capacity development initiatives for the implementation of the 2005 Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions are current or former experts of the Council of Europe/ERICarts "Compendium": Vesna Čopič (ERICarts Board of Governors), Milena Dragićević Šešić, Nina Obuljen and Compendium co-editor Andreas Wiesand. Former Council of Europe Director in charge of the Compendium, Bob Palmer, and Sarah Gardner, Director of Compendium partner IFACCA, also form part of the group of 43 international specialists.
Culture - essential for the dynamics of contemporary democratic societies?
At the 13th Assembly of Compendium Experts, December 2014 in Brussels, Alexander Vander Stichele presented a stimulating report on "The Value(s) of Culture" that also fits well into the context of the new Compendium space on "Culture & Democracy". The presentation underlined the value, meaning and impact of the arts and culture for the daily life of people and demonstrated that culture can be essential for the dynamics of contemporary democratic societies.
The Scottish Referendum: What's next?
Written in the wake of the independence referendum with its landmark turnout of voters, the personal thoughts and experiences of Compendium expert Andrew Ormston provide us with a first-hand impression of the campaign and what it could mean for cultural policies in Scotland. According to him, there are signs that cultural actors in the (now still) north of the UK may be more attracted by ideas and solutions of close-by Nordic countries than by those postulated in the halls of Westminster….
‘Only da sea can greet an sing at da sam time:
shade an licht: cobalt, ultramarine an dan
da lönabrak –a tize, a frush o whicht.’
Extract from the Shetlandic poem
‘Discontinuity’ by Christine de Luca
Andrew Ormston, September 2014
Two days after the Scottish referendum and I remain ‘wrung out’. This has been an extraordinary journey, with years of fascinating debate and dialogue transforming into a final two weeks of what could only be described as an onslaught of press and media campaigning.
The opportunity to consider what a country could be like and how you might contribute to its making is something I will remember for the rest of my life. This discussion took place in many and various arenas, from the Scottish Parliament building to community halls, to the dinner table. My own favourite forum was Nordic Horizons (1) where invited academics and professionals from Nordic countries would debate a particular sector or initiative, from waste management to culture. The central figure in Nordic Horizons, Lesley Riddoch, became a star of the yes campaign, publishing an influential book (2) and taking the debate to communities around the whole country. The Edinburgh International Book Festival was perhaps the intellectual high point of the process, taking place less than a month before the vote, with many of its 800 authors either formally or informally engaging with the issues.
However not all debate was so patrician. Culture did not feature prominently in the referendum White Paper (3), with proposals to divest the BBC of its Scottish resources to create a new public sector broadcaster attracting most attention. Nevertheless, culture did play an important role: The pro-independence National Collective of Artists and Creatives (4) provided a full bodied approach to cultural imaginings of Scotland, far from the rarefied atmosphere of the university or gallery. Once again I had a favourite cultural offer in the form of The National Theatre of Scotland’s ‘The Great Yes, No, Don’t Know Five Minute Theatre Show’ (5). Not all cultural sector interventions were pro-independence. For example a group of Scottish publishers penned an open letter voicing concerns that VAT changes would challenge their future sustainability, and 200 UK celebrities signed up to a letter opposing independence.
Social media was a key source of information. Some journalists maintained a professional eye on proceedings (Channel 4’s Paul Mason was an exemplar, and even provided us a steady supply of Northern Soul music through his twitter feed during the purdah period of voting). However, many did not and the mismatch between your eyes and ears, and the television screen and radio broadcast led to a dependence on social media to keep abreast of events.
Passionate democracy did result in a 84.5% turnout, the highest in UK electoral history. It also meant almost everyone declared their voting intention, and as you can see mine was pro-independence. It was also a turbulent and intense final two weeks, particularly from the day a poll put independence ahead. Out of the panic arose imprecise guarantees of more powers and the first passionate political speech supporting Unionism delivered by Gordon Brown, a previous Prime Minister. I was, however, one of the 780,000 postal voters and this was all too late for me. In the end 45% of the vote was for independence and it was decided by different generations: 73% of the over 65s voted No and 71% of 16/17 year olds voted yes – which explains the tendency found on the pictured Twitter Trendsmap. Many of us are still processing the emotional and practical aftermath and the early signs aren’t good.
It is hard to say what this means for the creative and cultural industries in Scotland. Devolution has meant some clear differences in approach. The Arts Council became Creative Scotland followed by the well-publicised ructions in unifying creative industries and the arts under one umbrella. National arts companies are separate, with an arguably divisive direct report to the Scottish Government. Local Government is less diminished than in England, although some Councils have slashed arts funding. However, it seems clear that devolution has been good for the arts in Scotland. Government funding commitments to the arts are under pressure, but remain firm. The strength of Scottish Higher Education is rightly celebrated, just think of the influence of Glasgow School of Art on the visual arts world in recent years. Most importantly Scotland’s Curriculum for Excellence provides a much more effective educational ethos and platform for arts and creative activities in schools.
There is also some difference at the ideological level. This was clearest when Scotland’s Culture Minister, Fiona Hyslop made an impassioned commitment to arts funding for art’s sake, criticising the instrumental arts funding agenda that has dominated the UK’s approach. The creative industries entrepreneurship mission also feels different in Scotland - an urge to monetise intellectual property tempered with an identity that honours renaissance values. A creative sector packed with micro businesses is just as much a challenge for Scotland’s enterprise agencies as elsewhere, but an agency like Highlands & Islands Enterprise is comfortable investing in a mixed creative economy of public, private and third sector interdependence. Speed of privatisation in Scotland (of the health service for example) has also been constrained by devolution. The city-centric approach to strategy that is gaining political ground so rapidly is also more mature in a country where the resource battles with the central belt cities of Glasgow and Edinburgh have been going on for decades.
So, what next? Creative Scotland has laid out a ten year strategy and is busy translating the findings of a range of sector reviews (I am currently working on one of them, a review of the Scottish literature sector) with new delivery plans. The country’s major arts organisations are awaiting the results of an open call for three year funding from Creative Scotland which will shape arts provision for the immediate future. Scotland’s enthusiasm for playing a full part in Europe came to the fore in the referendum campaigning and this may result in a re-energising of European relationships amongst Scotland cultural and creative organisations. However cultural policy has not caught up with the devolution opportunity as yet and remains a ‘scaled down version of British cultural policy’ (6). There are clear opportunities in grasping the prospects of the Curriculum for Excellence and the new Community Empowerment legislation (7). A rethinking of how creative industries are aggregated and framed could also lead to more effective interventions by agencies. The Youth Guarantee schemes of Finland and Sweden have clear potential in Scotland, and we should consider the national potential in schemes like the Edinburgh Guarantee (8) for culture and creative graduates and practitioners. Nothing embodies Scotland’s renaissance heritage and knowledge economy ambitions better than the library. A current review into public library provision will also air discussions about an integrated national library service that could provide all Scots with a more ambitious digital and analogue resource.
There is an upbeat commentary that the referendum has changed politics for the better. But faced with the incompatibility of a ‘first past the post - winner takes all’ electoral system and five year fixed term Westminster governments, I am struggling to see this. There will be creative people that do, and I look forward to supporting their efforts.
2 Blossom - What Scotland Needs to Flourish, Riddoch.L, Luath Press, 2014
3 Scotland’s Future - Your Guide to an Independent Scotland, Scottish Government, 2013, ISBN: 978-1-78412-068-9
6 Schlesinger. P, in: After Independence - An informed guide to Scotland’s possible futures for anyone who is pro or anti independence, unsure or just generally curious, Hassan.G & Mitchell.J, Luath Press, 2014
Council of Europe WebTV Journal now on Twitter
Complementing Council of Europe information on the general website and on more specific Internet portals, e.g. www.coe.int/democracy, the CoE Directorate of Communications has launched a weekly TV Journal in 2013, see http://webtv.coe.int/.
Every Friday, it offers the latest TV news, features and interviews regarding human rights, democracy and the rule of law.
In addition to other social networks, this WebTV service has now been extended to Twitter, see http://twitter.com/CoEAudioVisual. The Journal and other content, e.g. videos, photos and special reports, are all downloadable. They cover, inter alia, themes dealt with in the Compendium such as: heritage issues; cultural awards; education and training; intercultural dialogue; media; social cohesion; human rights and human dignity (e.g. gender equality); languages; minorities/Roma; and youth.
Directorate General "Democracy": introducing the new web portal
The Directorate General of Democracy (DGII) of the Council of Europe has launched its new Internet portal at www.coe.int/democracy. The portal is to serve users with a more dynamic, intuitive interface and improved navigation. Providing a quicker access to the complete range of DGII activities, structures and tools that promote human dignity and democratic competences, the portal facilitates the direct access to all actions related to culture and heritage, including the Compendium. The latter contributes as well to other DG Democracy topics such as: education and training; intercultural dialogue; media; social cohesion; human rights and human dignity (e.g. gender equality); languages; minorities/Roma; youth.
The overall mandate of the Directorate General of Democracy is to support the Council of Europe action in fields which are critically important for the sustainability of democracy and for ensuring human dignity:
- To ensure the respect for human dignity of all without discrimination and on the basis of human rights standards
- To improve the functioning of democratic institutions and to secure compliance with democracy and human rights standards
- To strengthen the democratic competencies of the citizens and their willingness to engage themselves in the democratic process
- To democratically manage the inner diversity of European societies in a spirit of solidarity and tolerance based on the political and legal standards of the Council of Europe.