Kids' Guernica Exhibition at the Zappeion, Athens ECCM Symposium
The ECCM-Network Symposium Productivity of Culture and the Kids’-Guernica-Exhibition took place in Athens from the 17th until the 21st October 2007 and more precisely on the 18th and 19th of October at the Zappeion Megaron.
The ECCM Symposium 'Productivity of Culture' was initiated by Spyros Mercouris, Honorary President of the Network of European Capitals of Culture and Months (ECCM) in collaboration with the non profit NGO Poiein kai Prattein, the NGO Horizon, the Melina Mercouri Foundation and the European Union Club. Coorganiser was Hatto Fischer, coordinator of Poiein kai Prattein and who brought about the linkage to Kids' Guernica.
ECCM Symposium 2007
As to the Symposium itself, the various sessions were designed to focus upon the relationship between culture and policy makers, the role of cultural institutions such as museums, the importance of dialogue between cultures for foreign relations and what linkage between the economy and culture can exist so that a 'dignified life' (George Krimpas) is possibile.
Furthermore a special session was designed to familiarize European Capitals of Culture with the method of cultural planning. This meant looking into whether cities have the means and tools to bring about creativity.
Then, aside from reflecting upon experiences made within Kids' Guernica as a special network operating world wide on an informal, decentralized basis, the Symposium did address the question as to what shall be the future of the ECCM Network. The ECCM Network had entered a difficult phase after its last General Assembly in Patras 2006 provoked the departure of the member of Luxembourg. That was all the more painful since Luxembourg not only hosted the office of the ECCM but was the European Capital of Culture in 2007. Pressure upon the network stemmed as well from the new demands within Europe for a more informal networking capacity. At the same time the adoption on a world wide basis of the same idea to have every year a Capital of Culture in Canada, USA, Latin America, Arabic countries and Africa posed new questions in need of practical answers.
Aims and intentions
Fore mostly the ECCM Symposium is linked to a wish of the European Commission that the study it commissioned to KEA about the relationship between 'economy and culture' be validated by European Capitals of Culture. This would mean to verify if this relationship between the two has been changed by that one defining year. This was examined especially in the presentation of Krakow and extended in the paper given by Bernd Fesel as to how Ruhr or Essen 2010 was envisioning this conversion from a coal and steel industrial region into a hub for creative and cultural industries.
But above all the various sessions of the Symposium were meant to bring about a badly needed discourse in Europe. Michael D. Higgins spoke emphatically not only during his presentation at the Symposium but throughout the subsequent discussions about the need for an intellectual discourse which does not overlook the hidden sources of violence. His critical voice should be heeded at EU level if cultural policy is to become a true advocate of participatory forms for people in the life of Europe and its institutions. As former Minister of Culture in Ireland he knows only too well that very few decisions are really brought about by the Council of Ministers responsible for culture. One possible explanation is a lack of courage. It reflects also the kind of discourse being practiced, one which does not name the real issues or sidelines them conveniently with the promise to take them up later - but never kept.
Connected with this aim to enliven the intellectual discourse about culture in Europe, Spyros Mercouris wanted to stem himself and the ECCM network against the negative tide it was facing. He wanted to show to everyone that the ECCM was still capable of doing something. He meant to address as much the newly designated European Capitals of Culture such as Liverpool 2008 and Essen 2010 as those who thought the ECCM had outlived its purpose and who preferred an informal network. The irony was that the ECCM did function over a large period of time more as an informal network as this allowed for a flow of innovative ideas. The ECCM Network aimed to uphold a continuity of reflections of experiences made by past, current and future European Capitals of Culture. Thus b picking up this theme of 'productivity of culture', Spyros Mercouris thought to enhance the capacity of the ECCM network to keep up with changing times.
Following objectives were kept in mind when organising this event at the Zappeion in Athens during October 17 - 19, 2007:
Follow up the ECCM Symposium of 2005 and strengthen the ECCM Network as a network of networks with many more continents aside from the European one adopting a similar idea of Melina Mercouri, namely to promote culture through such an institution as the European Capitals of Culture have done so since 1985.
Strengthen Civil Society, and in particular Cultural NGOs when engaging political authorities and institutions on matters related to culture and cultural policy whereby Michael D. Higgins has formulated already in 1999 and 2000 a practical agenda to be implemented and which includes the promotion of cultural impact studies to enrich feasibility studies.
Further discussions and studies of the role cultural institutions such as museums can play in the promotion of cultural development.
Advise future European Capitals of Culture to address the need for ‘public spaces / public truths’ (Bart Verschaffel) by taking into consideration progress made with regards to cultural planning.
Monitor the cultural economy in the making and follow-up studies on cultural economy as the European Commission becomes attentive to the role culture can play in terms of innovation and creativity to further economic development.
Give recognition to cultural initiatives and in particular creative people by refining the art of networking between people, cities and cultures.
Ensure that cities recognize the value of the arts and culture and to do so by setting up archives as places of memories e.g. the Documentation Centre of the City of Athens.
Further dialogue between cultures by listening to the voices of people and by searching for ways and means so as not to let dry up the tributes to the great stream of humanity (Kacem)
Topics of the Symposium:
- Cultural Policy
- The Role of Culture
- Dialogue between Cultures
- Cultural Planning
- Culture and Economy
- European Capitals of Culture
- Network of Networks - the Global Dimension of Culture
- Kids' Guernica Experiences
- Poetry Reading by Michael D. Higgins
- Kids' Guernica Exhibition at the Zappeion Megaron Athens
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