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Feedback of La Rencontre de San Sebastian
Tuesday 08 November 2016

It's been a month since we closed La Rencontre de San Sebastian Meeting - a month to reflect on what was said there, the ideas we exchanged.

Taking the pulse of cultural political changes in Europe, LIKE and the City of San Sebastian wanted to take three days to dissect the issue of the governance of culture.

This complex concept was initially used by international organizations; however "governance", managed to become a flagship term at all levels of political action when reflecting on public policy. The debate on European governance was, in turn, launched by the Commission in its 2001 White Papers. The latter stresses the importance of strengthening citizen participation in European decision-making processes, particularly through local and regional democracy and the reinforcement of the role of the Committee of
the Regions at the sides of the Commission and Parliament. “Good governance”, according to the White Papers, is about strengthening the legitimacy of public action.

The question of the legitimacy of public action
was not solely addressed by the EU. This is also why the issue of "governance" was also declined at different levels of decision in Europe and different areas of public action - and the legitimacy crisis which our traditional representative democracy systems are going though is not without strengthening again the currency of this notion. It is this question of "governance" applied to the cultural field that we wanted to talk about in San Sebastian: how can we replace cultural policy-making at the center of citizens/territory/creativity triptych, and thus enhance its legitimacy?

This issue attracted no less than 45 people from 17 different nationalities -
evidence, if any were needed, of the importance of the question. Panelists and speakers were able to present their different interpretations - academic, technical, artistic - and demonstrate by their current projects that it is possible to apply a participatory definition to culture and the arts.

Some highlights of
our Rencontre de San Sebastian:

  • the presentation of San Sebastian 2016 ECoC
  • Legislative implementation of cultural rights with the decree on Cultural Centres in Fédération Wallonie-
  • Bruxelles, a presentation by Olivier Van Hee
  • Local views of our Basque panelists and speakers : Iskandar Rementería, Isusko Vivas and Helga Massetani Piemonte
  • The presence of our friend Francesco Zarzana representing ALDA and his double contribution: how culture and the arts are involved in renewing democratic practices, and how policies include cultural actors
  • Work of co-creation of knowledge with the British social science research program Connected Communities, presented by its representative George McKay
  • Project proposal European Culture Festival by Sabine Le Stum

We want to thank all our supporters - the City of San Sebastian Donostia Kultura - our members, participants and invited speakers for making this Recontre a
true success!