Culture comes first! Arts is the source of everything and is more important than politics. The creativity of arts is the core of all production.
Real integration in Europe has to be based on cultural and artistic values. The integration has to balance between the uniqueness of the various cultures in Europe and the common values on which they are based.
These were some of the conclusions of the First session of the new European Cultural Parliament which was held in Bruges, Belgium between 15 –17 November. Leading authors, stage directors, composers, actors, philosophers, architects, designers, painters, historians and other cultural personalities from 25 countries in Europe met in the College of Europe to discuss what European artists can do to contribute to a better Europe.
Very creative discussions took place. For instance the cultural aspects of globalisation, business and protectionism were discussed in a working group consisting of persons like Georgia’s leading archeologist, a world-famous Italian painter, a leading Croatian stage director, a Finnish star architect and a successful author from the Netherlands.
Another group with similar broad composition discussed the role of hatred and how artistic exchange can prevent conflicts from developing into violence and war; And a third group discussed the difficult balance between the defence of cultural production and identity in individual countries or communities (including national or religious minorities) on one hand and the necessity to promote a broader “European feeling” among others than politicians and bureaucrats on the other hand.
Today’s world has become much too technocratic. Even those who deal with cultural policy tend to speak in technocratic and bureaucratic terms. Humanism, aesthetic and ethic values must have a revival in the International debate. At the same time people of arts must realise and accept that globalisation will continue. New ways have to be found for artists to profit, rather than suffer from globalisation.
The Cultural Parliamentarians expressed their strong desire to contribute to a new orientation in public debate and changed attitudes among politicians, business and media. In view of the next session, which is planned to be held in St. Petersburg in November 2003 the artists of the Cultural Parliament wish to prepare a an exhibition or an artistic presentation in order to illustrate some of the messages regarding the indispensibility of Culture.
This was the first time that a meeting of this kind with such a broad participation was organised and it coincided with the conclusions of the Cultural Year Bruges 2002.