Values of Liberty, Equality & Brotherhood discussed at European Foundations Centre Conference in Paris

The 30th Annual General Assembly and Conference of the European Foundations Centre (EFC) took place on 22-24 May 2019 in Paris, under the theme “Liberté, Egalité, Philanthropie”. To mark this occasion, a delegation of representatives from Europa Nostra attended this celebratory gathering hosted by the Fondation de France and several other leading French philanthropic organisations. Alongside 800+ key figures from the world of philanthropy, Sneška Quaedvlieg-Mihailović, Secretary General, Emilio Rui Vilar, Council member (also in his role as Trustee of the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation) and Manon Richard, Projects Officer, attended inspiring sessions at the exact time when the European elections were about to start.

The Conference kicked-off with an inspirational speech by Jorge Chaminé, Founder and President of the European Music Centre in Bougival, who recalled that our shared culture, heritage and values lie at the centre of the European project. “Brotherhood is the key for a beautiful new tone which we need to strike for the future of Europe”, he stated. His passionate intervention revolved around the powerful words of the ‘Ode to Joy’ poem written by the German poet Schiller and composed by Ludwig van Beethoven. He invited all participants from Europe and across the globe to sing together this powerful music. Special interpretations of the European Anthem contributing to the #Ode2Joy Challenge launched by Europa Nostra and its President Plácido Domingo were performed by Syrian musician Yaman Suheim, by Trio Chausson, and by a Roma quartet from Romania. At the end of the first day of the conference, a moving sign language performance of the Ode to Joy by a group of young people at the Trocadero, in front of the Eiffel Tower, demonstrated that gesture goes far beyond words.

Before delving into interesting discussions and debates, the opening plenary dedicated to “Freedom” featured captivating speakers, such as Axelle Davezac, CEO of Fondation de France, Bassma Kodmani, Co-founder and Executive Director of the Arab Reform Initiative, Ivan Krastev, Chairman of the Centre for Liberal Strategies, and Plantu, Cartoonist and President of Cartooning for Peace who was also winner of the Helena Vaz da Silva Award in 2017. The latter spoke of the need to build a new Europe based upon the spirit of “fraternité”. “The history of Europe was built upon war and peace, and to understand the Europe of today, you must understand the Europe of the past,” said Plantu.

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The next two days were dedicated to “Egalité” and “Fraternité & Philanthropy” with a plethora of plenary and working sessions such as “Facing the global challenges – Arts and culture fostering a free, cohesive and equitable society” organised by the EFC Arts and Culture thematic network chaired by Ignasi Miró Borras, Director Cultural Area at “la Caixa” Foundation. The main results of the research recently conducted by EFC showed that arts and culture are at the core of philanthropy (43% of EFC members support arts and culture). Thus, Elefterios Kechagioglou, Estelle Zhong Mengual, and Sandra Terdjman together with philanthropists explored what is the role of participatory arts in society as well as how philanthropy can improve its approach to this area.

Other key issues discussed during the conference were citizens participation, solidarity, inclusion, gender equality, sustainability and climate change (read more).

The conference concluded with a trailer for the 2020 EFC Conference, which will take place in Vienna from 20-22 May under the title “Foundations and the New Normal – How to Innovate Philanthropy?” and will be hosted by Erste Stiftung.

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