Cultural Playing Field

‘Culture and the Policies of Change’ by Robin Simpson
September 10, 2010, 11:30 am
Filed under: meetings | Tags: , , ,

On Monday and Tuesday I was in Brussels to take part in the Council of Europe’s CultureWatchEurope conference, ‘Culture and the Policies of Change’. The conference, which took place at the headquarters of the European Economic and Social Committee, was an impressive gathering of around 150 senior policy-makers, practitioners and researchers from across Europe to discuss the need for radical development of cultural policies in response to the current financial crisis, climate changing and changing global values. The keynote speaker was the American academic and Founder and President of Economic Trends Foundation, Jeremy Rifkin. He gave a provocative and highly entertaining presentation which warned that the human race is “sleepwalking to extinction” and stressed the need for culture to “rethink the human mission”. Rifkin anticipated the evolution of “homo empathicus” and the “empathic civilisation” and emphasised that “culture is a gift to share, not a possession to defend”. Other speakers included Gabriela Battaini-Dragoni, Director General of Education, Culture and Heritage, Youth and Sport of the Council of Europe, Jan Truszczyński, Director General for Education, Training, Culture and Youth of the European Commission and Stojan Pelko, State Secretary, Ministry of Culture, Slovenia. I took part in a small breakout group looking at participation, education and excellence. We had some extremely intellectually rigorous and interesting discussions about the need to join-up formal and informal education, the importance of adult amateur arts participation and the blurring boundaries between ‘artists’ and ‘audiences’. The conference was a good opportunity to hear from some of the leading cultural thinkers in Europe and a great chance for networking. There were quite a few delegates from the UK, including representatives of Arts Council England, Creative Scotland, the British Council and Mission, Models, Money. More details, copies of the speeches and video interviews at

Robin Simpson.


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