IGCAT expert, Diane Dodd was invited as part of a small circle of experts engaged with exploring new co-operation models for integrating culture in external relations, hosted by the ifa (Institut für Auslandsbeziehungen) and More Europe, at the Goethe-Institut in Brussels.
With the premise that Europe must not be seen merely as an economic community firmly in mind,the small circle of experts gathered to discuss new funding possibilities for external cultural cooperation projects, to consider which actors could generate new models of cooperation, and to contemplate the ways in which these models could reach out beyond the EU and forge sustainable partnerships with third countries.
The hosts, More Europe and ifa are making great strides in external cultural relations: the former is an initiative that combines research with a series of debates and advocacy concerns while the ifa promotes and funds cultural, artistic and arts exchanges through a programme of exhibitions, meetings, dialogues and conferences.
Following a Welcome Address by the hosts and an introduction exploring the “State of the Arts” by Gaëlle Lisack of the ifa Research Programme, the meeting unfolded through a series of three workshops, moderated by Gottfried Wagner, discussing cooperation between different European stakeholders, cooperation between European and non-European stakeholders, and financial resources for European external cultural relations.
In the first workshop we were presented with key questions concerning the role of different actors involved in external cultural relations with the aim of determining how cooperation could be improved, strengthened and made more sustainable. In Diane Dodd’s view the case is still not clear to other sectors of ‘why’ as a sector we advocate for culture in external cultural policies (for intercultural dialogue, for supporting economic markets, benevolence?).
Following lunch the group went on to discuss the ways in which cooperation between European and non-European actors could enhance the sustainability and long-term input of projects and the final session gave occasion to consider and identify models and structures for funding the external relations keeping in mind the existing limitations and possibilities for alternative models. While it is important to acknowledge the role of banking mechanisms (with guarantee funds) for future funding, Diane pushed for a more professional approach to advocacy for the arts and culture.
According to HR Lady Ashton “Culture has a unique potential to generate dialogue and reconciliation, promote democratization, strengthen civil society, foster socio-economic development and enhance the EU image around the world” and this meeting delivered a timely reminder of the value of one of the EU’s most valuable assets and its role in fostering cultural diversity.