For the new article of our "3 questions to …" series of articles, we interviewed Mr A. Sousa Matos, elected representative for culture, education, sport and tourism of the City of Almada, Portugal, about his municipality's cultural policy, cultural cooperation and the links between his city and our European network.
Can you introduce us to the main cultural policy of your city and its missions in terms of cultural development as a city with European influence ?
Cultural policy-making in Almada is based on three pillars which materialize cultural democracy:
1) Preservation and recognition of the material and immaterial heritage and all forms of cultural expression and creation;
2) Promotion of the accessibility, diversity and quality of cultural offer,
3) Recognition of culture’s social role, namely encouraging inclusion, cohesion and socio-cultural development.
In this sense, the municipality supports and engages with projects which reinforce and ensure the involvement of the community into the recovery and promotion of municipal heritage, assuming the importance of the social construction of collective memory.
Our aim is also to promote wide participation into creation and amusement of arts and culture by mobilizing all local agents to strive for audience development and promoting a decentralized and diversified cultural program;
Finally, by involving all artists, creators, producers, associations and schools in collaborative work, the municipality seeks to trigger intercultural and intergenerational dialogue in order to develop active democratic citizenship.
You are one of our partners for La Rencontre de Lisboa, which will mainly focus on cooperation for the development of cultural policies on local territories and Europe. What is your point of view on cooperation and why did you choose to be an active partner?
Almada is part of the network Artemrede, a cultural co-operation project largely-recognized as an inducer of innovation in the territories in which it operates. According to this movement, culture is always associated to development and cohesion policies and regional planning. The geographical and sectoral articulation have been pointed out as fundamental in the framework of the Partnership Agreement between Portugal and the European Commission (Portugal 2014 - 2020), which brings together five European Structural and Investment Funds. It also defines the programming principles, which establish the economic and social policies as well as the region development or promotion in Portugal between 2014 and 2020.
Considering accumulated social capital, geographic scope, distinctive culture and even the experience of management and execution of Community Funds, Artemrede is in an extraordinary position for integrating development strategies altogether with local, regional and international actors.
In this perspective, cultural cooperation has a determinant role on Almada’s policy of territorial development and LIKE is one of our strategic partnerships.
You have been a member of our network for a long time now. In which way is networking important for you as a European city?
The cultural and creative areas have always developed their projects crossing borders but never as much as in the last decade. Cooperation has been all the more important that discussions and reflections on networking goals and international partnerships are now a priority. Regarding international cooperation, our aims are: to ensure access to international quality programming; to participate to networks of international co-production; to promote opportunities for ongoing training, qualification and learning for our cultural agents; to share knowledge and practices on cooperation with other European regions where culture is a decisive factor of their development strategy. European Union partnerships play a special role in the strategy for international cooperation since there are real opportunities for funding, assuming that culture is an important item in the cooperation programmes.