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Maidan Square in Kiev, Ukraine, is empty except for some people rushing across to their different morning activities and a piano painted in Ukraine colours standing lonely on the side.
A wooden board has been put up with photographs of the victims from the Maidan revolution last February (2014) that ended with an overthrown Ukrainan government, and the old president fleeing to Russia. Russian military forces took over Crimea as well as the Eastern parts of Ukraine where fights are still going on. The photographs on the board are getting worn out by rain and wind. They are only of men: one with his cat, another young boy looking seriously in to the camera, yet another a man standing the middle of the demonstration giving a quick glance in the direction of the photographer.
Sunday 26 of October is the election, but here on the Maidan Square we don’t see any evidence of this upcoming event. The on-going crisis in the East with Russia is, though, in the mind of everyone I meet.
On the conference Cultural Policy in Europe today: Finance, management, audience development arranged by EUNIC and the Eastern Partnership, culture is in focus and big hopes and importance are attached to the culture field. Minister of Culture, Yevhen Nyshchuk, opens the seminar by emphasizing culture as the key for growth and development in Ukraine and Europe.
Walter Zampieri, Head of Unit, Culture Policy and Intercultural dialogue at the Directorate General for Education and Culture at the European Commission, stresses the same and says that Culture and Creative Industries encompass around 4% of GDP in Europe. This is an important field in Europe today.
Ukraine is eager to build relations with the EU, an agenda has finally been signed that will guarantee cooperation. Culture and Creative Industries are one of the areas where money will be spent and efforts put in.
But can culture play this role? And can it just be instrumental? Doesn’t artistic value and quality need to be at the core of any such discussions?
One of the speakers, Mr Luciano Gloor, got the chance to answer a question posed by a man in film business that was wondering how to meet what he saw as propaganda done by the Russians, and if perhaps film could be a tool to counteract this?
The answer was straightforward and clear: As soon as you forget your passion and artistic values in producing your art, it will also become propaganda.
The audience will immediately see through any such attempt and judge you as others are judged that only commit to use art as propaganda.
Cooperation, not competition was this year’s theme for the network Trans Europe Halles’ yearly conference in Plzen, Czech Republic on October 9-12.
But the main topic and worry during this conference was the fact that the network lost its European network support from European Union.
The European Union was set up in 1945 after the Great Wars with the aim to through cooperation build a peaceful Europe. Mobility has therefore been central for the European Commission as a way to facilitate people to meet.
The European networks within culture have played an important role in this regard. People have been meeting over old closed borders, across political differences or old rival countries. On a network meeting recently with Encatc, the European Network for Cultural Administration Training Centres, Russian and Ukrainian participants discussed art management and its development in the midst of the Ukrainian crises. East meet West, North meet South, and across. It goes back to Socrates (469-399 BC) and his idea of the value of the Socratic discussion where arguments meet and a learning process can start.
These are significant meetings and their importance should not be under estimated. The European Union should continue support a wide variety of European networks.
They have made their home their creative space. From the house situated in the small village of Kaykino, with the forest around the corner, a big garden space for sculptures, and the outhouses with great potential for future ideas, project manager (and former fashion designer) Olga and sculptor Viktor Gracheva have created a space from which they run their artistic and cultural projects as well as exchanges and seminars.
Their home turns into an inspiring and warm space for discussions in a second, and on October 23–27 this is taking place. Their mission is to try to with art and culture turn the negative trend in the villages of Begunitsy and Kaykino, situated around 100 km outside of St Petersburg.
The villages have long struggled with a negative population trend; young people leave the countryside to move to the cities. Agriculture is declining, unemployment is high. There is a need to find new development tools to end this negative spiral.
This and lots more was discussed during the Creative Camp Kaykino where Swedish sculptor and owner of Stonezone Lukas Arons attended, as well as local municipal Commissioner and the Cultural Secretary of Munkedal Municipality in Sweden participated. Nätverkstan was also there.
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