Tuesday 20 September 2016

La Rencontre de San Sebastian wants to reposition culture and politics within an inter-dependant triptych : at the crossroad between citizens, cultural actors and political leadership. That is why our debates and discussions will be organised in 3 different moments, aiming at shedding light on these three different but all essential aspects of making policy-making qualitative and impactful. Our first moment will be dedicated to citizens.


If most of European democracies have not given up on their representative nature, some could argue that culture has evolved in a different way. Indeed, the inherent social, political and economical limits of what used to be praised as "cultural democracy" - and what was mainly practiced as "Culture for Everyone" - have demanded the emergence of another conception of democracy, with a strong focus on citizens' participation in the domains of arts and culture.

The Declaration of Friburg rose as a meaningful response to this crisis of the cultural democracy, as a result of 20 years of work of an international group of experts, known as the "Group of Friburg", coordinated by Patrice Meyer-Bisch. How does that Declaration, along with the operational implementation of its recommendations, transform what could be coined as a "cultural citizenship"? How can local authorities take into account citizens' cultural empowerment, going from "culture for everone" to "culture by everyone" ; from spectators to participants?

With :
Olivier Van Hee, Culture Inspector at the General Administration of Culture, Fédération Wallonie-Bruxelles - Professor and Manager of the Master's programme in Cultural Management, Free University of Brussels (Belgium)
Laura Fernandez, Cultural Programme Coordinator MediaLab-Prado, Madrid (Spain)


Let it be said: culture and the arts are by no way isolated from the very world and society they take roots in. Artists and the cultural world are indeed nurtured by their social, political and cultural surroundings; the very nature of the artistic act is about giving form, via any media, to one's inner perceptions. Artworks contain the artist's perspective on things; and increasingly often, they aim at creating a direct relationship with the audience, triggering reflections. Even though it is not so much a new phenomenon, "socially engaged art" is increasingly becoming something - a thing that professionals talk about, that Fine Arts Professors teach in Fine Arts schools, that artists claim... In this sense, should not arts and culture be considered as the enablers of a democratic arena?

Disturbance/Consensus : arts and culture have the power to create the one or the other. For some, disturbing arts stop where consensual culture begins. To some extent indeed, one can wonder whether the disturbing power of arts is reflected into the cultural world, since the latter has to deal and get fundings from the political/administrative world. Is it interfering with the inherent democratic nature of arts? How can democratic cultural policy-making be reconciled with the innovative and radical democracy of the arts world?

With :
Helga Massetani Piemonte, Colectivo Artitadeto Foundator, Content Manager and Internationalisation Programmes designer at Bitamine Faktoria, Irun (Spain)
Francesco Zarzana, Writer, Film-maker, President of the association Progettarte and Committee Member of ALDA - European Association for Local Democracy, Modena (Italy)


Participation will have been debated via two different canals : citizens participating to the vitality of culture and artists as cultural actors partaking into the vitality of democratic and political debates. As it shows, participation of these actors equals empowerment.
What is next ? This is the issue of this third and last round-table. How can policy-makers recognise and include these actors' immensely valuable imput? In what operational ways can we include citizens' participation into the designing of cultural policies? What are the organisational and political prospects for the co-construction of culture ?

With :
Ane Rodriguez, director of Tabakalera, San Sebastian / Donostia (Spain)
Second speaker to be confirmed...