The Civil Society Platform for Access to Culture
Without culture, and the relative freedom it implies, society, even when perfect, is but a jungle. This is why any authentic creation is a gift to the future. ~Albert Camus
Positions Access to Culture in a human/cultural rights perspective;
Places Access to Culture upstream in cultural policy-making (with a strong call to also mainstream culture in other policy fields); Formulates clear priority areas for action to develop the conditions of creation, education and participation across Europe.
To advocate for these standpoints the Platform produced its Policy Guidelines Document and a comprehensive Tool KIT.
On June 9th 2009 the Platform endorsed the Policy Guidelines document which is the outcome of the working process of its first year of existence. The document is directed to the European Commission, Member States, local and regional authorities and cultural institutions.
It places access and participation within a human rights framework and puts forward nine recommendations with stated objectives, proposed actions and expected results:
Understanding the needs of all publics
Data collection, research and consultations – to improve policymaking in the field of access to culture.
Overcoming linguistic barriers
Language education and support to translation – to remove linguistic obstacles to access to culture.
Supporting highly qualified professionalism
Social protection, education and training programmes – to ensure professional development and growth and, in turn, broaden the diversity of the cultural offer.
Improving funding and procedures
Participation in culture and the arts including freedom of artistic expression are both individual and collective human rights, guaranteed by numerous national, European and international treaties. The general public, policymakers, the arts and the human rights sectors all need to be more aware of how they can guarantee these rights and defend the rights-holders, to the benefit of all of our societies.
The platform works in three thematic working groups:
Audience Participation / Cultural Component of Citizenship Working Group
Citizens exercise their cultural rights through active participation in the shaping of Europe. It is important that this participation in culture is recognised as a fundamental right and a stepping stone to gaining political and social objectives such as creative societies, a strong educational system, flourishing cultural industries, intercultural dialogue and democracy. Active citizenship requires that all levels of policy making take citizens’ concerns into account.
In 2007 representatives of public bodies and cultural sector met in Lisbon during the Portuguese EU-Presidency, on a first Culture Forum, to discuss new ways of cooperation in the field of European cultural policy, which is ruled by the principle of subsidiarity. The outcome of this first Forum was the adoption of the European Agenda for Culture which identified 3 issues EU countries pledged to discuss in common:
• promotion of cultural diversity and intercultural dialogue;
• promotion of culture as a catalyst for creativity in the framework of the Lisbon Strategy for growth and jobs;
• promotion of culture as a vital element in the Union’s international relations.
To achieve this collaboration between MS and EU a new tool was created, the Open Method of Coordination (OMC). To include the culture sector itself, the field experts / citizens in this discussion the “structured dialogue” mechanism was put into action.
The 3 civil society Platforms
In this frame the Platforms were created: Intercultural Europe; Potential of Creative Industries; and Access to Culture, the later hosted by the European House for Culture which acts as its secretariat.
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