Report on fostering the contribution of culture to social inclusion released

The report “Social Inclusion: Partnering with other Sectors”, which is the result of a brainstorming process between 35 organisations from the cultural sector and other sectors with the European Commission that took place from April to September 2018, was released on 16 October. Europa Nostra contributed to this report and was represented at the working meetings by its Council Member Anna-Maija Halme.

The report “Social Inclusion: Partnering with other Sectors” looks at the policy, qualities of partnership, and research and development aspects of programmes and projects dealing with culture and social inclusion. Several initiatives that received the EU Prize for Cultural Heritage / Europa Nostra Awards are mentioned in the report. It lists critical success factors as well as obstacles, and ultimately gives recommendations on how to improve the partnerships between the cultural and other sectors in this sphere. Furthermore, it also addresses the problem of rising discriminatory attitudes among the wider population and proposes possible actions.

The report emphasises that initiatives to promote the values of inclusiveness, tolerance, non-discrimination, solidarity, equality and respect for human dignity – which are core values of the EU – should become a top priority of the EU and the member states. Through arts and cultural activities people can experience cultural diversity which can enhance mutual understanding and strengthen cohesion within communities.

The report highlights the importance of participatory policy-making and legislation. Knowledge and good practices in the field of social inclusion should be exchanged and transferred more efficiently and there should be generally more long term projects, cooperation and networking. A concise best practice guide to research and evaluation should be assembled.

The report states that access to broad, state-subsidized cultural education reflecting the full diversity of cultures should be given to every European citizen and to people of all ages. Learning about the history and heritage of a place helps children, migrants as well as people moving inside a country to grow roots to their new neighborhoods.

The report stresses that all citizens, residents and communities should be engaged in the co-creation and co-design of their living environments and cultural expression. A wide cooperation is also needed to tackle physical and mental barriers preventing people from taking part in cultural activities. Funding should be made accessible for all and information about funding opportunities should be made widely accessible, using simple language and application systems.

These were some of the key topics discussed by the group Voices of Culture – Structured Dialogue between the cultural sector and the European Commission from April to September 2018. The group had a two-day brainstorming meeting in April and wrote a draft report during the summer presenting also a wide range of successful cultural projects on social inclusion. In September there was a dialogue meeting with representatives from the European Commission and a working group of Member States’ experts who cooperate under the Open Method of Coordination.

In order to participate in the brainstorming group, Europa Nostra had applied further to an open call for applications in January 2018 and was selected by the European Commission. Besides Europa Nostra, Interpret Europe – a member of the European Heritage Alliance 3.3 – was also selected and made a significant contribution to the final report.

Europa Nostra Council Member Anna-Maija Halme was in the editorial team of the report. She is one of the editors of the book “Heritage Is Our – Citizens Participating in Decision Making”, which was published by Europa Nostra Finland in March 2018.

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