Productivity of Culture

Network of Networks

Friday Oct 19th 12.30 – 14.00

"Networks of Americas and Coordination & Programs Of the Network of Networks"

Xavier Tudela - Network of Americas and Catalonia

abstract - CV

In the last twenty-five years, and coinciding with the establishment of the European Capital of Culture, culture and cultural networks have become increasingly important.  This trend has been observed mainly in Europe, but has also been apparent in other parts of the world.  

It has been motivated by economic prosperity and the growing role of culture and the cultural industries in the economies of the developed countries.   Today, I would like to explain to you the brief history of our group which is called the International Bureau of Cultural Capitals, and is based in Barcelona. 

It reflects in a modest way the importance of the coordination between public institutions and civil society for the development of our societies through culture. At present, the Bureau is working on the development of the cultural capital in 4 areas of the world.  These are, in chronological order of their launch:

the American Capital of Culture (since 1988);

the Catalan Capital of Culture (since 2002);

the Brazilian Capital of Culture (since 2004);

and the US Capital of Culture (since 2007). 

We are also working on new projects to set up cultural capitals in other parts of the world. The setting-up of all these capitals of culture shares the common feature that we have always sought joint efforts between public institutions and civil society which, in my opinion, is what enables any society to progress.  Each of them works in its own area of responsibility, but in the knowledge of what the other party is doing, so that they do not duplicate efforts, but pool their endeavors. I can tell you that before setting up the American Capital of Culture on the American continent, the proposal was presented to the OAS (Organization of American States), headquartered in Washington DC, in case they wanted to develop it or cooperate in it. 

The result was that over the years, we have established a very fruitful relationship for both parties and for the objectives of the American Capital of Culture. Still in relation to the Capital of Culture for the Americas, I can inform you that at the Valparaíso Summit, the European and Latin American parliaments approved a resolution in favour of interchanges between the cultural capitals of Europe and America. Also, in the case of the Catalan Capital of Culture, the Catalan government and Parliament gave their explicit support to this cultural capital and are participating actively in the work. 

I would also point out that the Catalan Capital of Culture is contributing to European integration, because it is aimed at 4 countries on our continent (Spain, France, Andorra and Italy), where Catalan is spoken in some of their regions.  To date, of the five cities which have been designated Catalan Capital of Culture, four have been located in Spain, and one in France. 

In the case of the Brazilian Capital of Culture, before starting this project, I met the Federal Minister for Culture, Gilberto Gil.  The Minister, and famous performing artist, was enthusiastic about the idea and we are developing the Brazilian Capital of Culture in close cooperation with the Brazilian federal government.  The practical experience has been highly positive. 

Finally, this year we set up the US Capital of Culture in a single country, the United States of America, which has welcomed the capital of culture initiative very positively, although the idea comes from abroad. 

I want to summarize very briefly our cultural journey, to explain my conviction that it is essential to coordinate the various existing cultural networks in the world, whether they are of public origin or have been established by civil society, to make our efforts more efficient for everyone’s benefit.  Knowing each other better will help strengthen our activities, and enable our societies to improve their interaction. That is why I am proposing that we should set up an International Network of Cultural Networks to incorporate all the initiatives that mean that if we know each other better, we can strengthen social and cultural inclusion for everyone.

"Projects and Impact of Culture in Central Europe"

Max Aufischer - Coordinator of the Network of Cities of Central Europe

abstract - CV

We are now in the situation that our technical achievements allow us to create more, bigger and faster then ever before. And these technologies are easier available for more people. So we have a tremendous output of creative products which can be immediately displayed and consumed all over the world. At the same time we can observe a feeling of degeneration and devaluation of culture – a loss of quality within culture - when that quantity is being consumed unfiltered.That leads to the next problem: What means "culture"? How is it defined by which lobby. This term became blurred through unreflecting use for a big variety of unspecific meanings, and often mixed up with other terms like "art", "civilisation" etc. The same happened for example with "Europe" and "European Union".We very often talk about culture in an art context. But we forget that "culture" is a collective term or melting pot for everything that a human being or mankind is able to achieve. And we forget that also war and aggression are important elements of culture. A generation that has never been affected by war might think that peace and constructive dialog is an ordinary conditionFor that reasons it will be necessary to intensify the dialog between people in general but specifically between artists, intellectuals and the like. We should bring together people from different regions and cultures and establish conditions that allow co-operations free from any predestination. In that sense the Cultural City Network Graz is offering a scholarship-program for artists and writers, that is bringing approximately 10 international guests to Graz per year. Or we have organised exhibition projects with artists from 12 nations ore more, where dialog not only happened on a creative level but also in personal way. And we support these personal contacts beyond national and cultural borders over years.

"Culture for Change And Impact of Culture On the Region of Volga"

Anna Gor, Gleb Firsov, Julia Goncharenko - Network of Volga Region

abstract - CV

"US Capitals of Culture"

Maria Teresa Velasco

abstract - CV

In April 2007, the International Bureau of Capitals of Culture established the US Capital of Culture (USCC). The objective of this initiative is to provide a new setting to develop, support, communicate, advance and encourage local participation in the culture of the USA. Every year, as a new city is selected to be US Capital of Culture for a year, it will be able to promote its local culture and distribute its information both within the USA and abroad. Finally, the organization's goal is to establish close collaboration between USCC and other countries and regions around the world, where the Capital of Culture program already exists.

Capitals of Culture is an extraordinary approach to build local unity and engender a local sense of community as well as to promote the selected city beyond its boundaries. Hence, the International Bureau of Capitals of Culture has had great interest in developing the USCC.

During the term of the initiative, a selected Capital of Culture connects with national and international events and celebrations that give way to social cohesion and international recognition. Other projects that have already earned a special place in the world are: the Universal Expos, of which London was first in 1851, and the concept of the Olympic Games of the Modern Era, conceived by Baron Pierre de Coubertin in Athens in 1896.

Capitals of Culture differ from Olympic Games and Expos in that their nomination is for a full calendar year, which gives the city enough time to promote its resources actively through the celebration of specific activities and extraordinary events that address the city's relevance.

Capitals of Culture were first established in Europe, when Melina Mercouri, Minister of Culture of Greece and well known actress, promoted their creation. Athens became the first Capital of Culture in history under the name of European Capital of Culture in 1985.

Since that time, different countries in diverse parts of the world have embraced this concept and developed their own Capital of Culture initiative.

Established in 2005, the International Bureau of Capitals of Culture provides an umbrella for the American Capital of Culture, the Brazilian Capital of Culture, and the Catalan Capital of Culture and promotes the creation of capitals of culture wherever the concept is still unknown. The Bureau supports the US Capital of Culture program.

"University Network of the European Capitals of Culture"

William Chambers - Vice President of UNEECC and Dean of the Liverpool Hope University

abstract - CV 

The Universities Network of European Capitals of Culture (UNECC) is in the process of clarifying aims and objectives of UNECC. While working to implement current and future plans, it aims to connect universities more to European Capitals of Culture.

The UNECC Network held at the end of October 2007 its First General Assembly and Annual Conference Town and Gown in Sibiu, Romania. Two outstanding contributions universities can make: impact studies while monitoring and evaluating the implementation process and work on a long term perspective so as to guarantee sustainability of what has been created during the one year of being Capital of Culture.

  • First annual Conference of the University Network of the European Capitals of Culture at 25 & 26 October, Lucian Blaga University, Sibiu, Romania

    For 2008

    Plans are being developed by Stavanger University and Liverpool Hope University for 2008. In this capacity the Liverpool Hope University will host the World Youth Congress, 4th - 11th of June 2008 under the title: "Big Hope". Bill Chambers is its director.

    Big Hope will consider:

    This event is understood as contribution to both Liverpool 2008 when European Capital of Culture and to the European Parliament's year of Intercultural Dialogue.


    Points of Discussion


    Networking should be about breaking down of prejudices or rather misconceptions about other cultures, including how the USA is perceived throughout the world. 

    She asked about American Culture: is it Hollywood, Walt Disney, Thanks Giving?

    To remind:

    Already in the 16th century there were Spanish immigrants.

    She is herself an immigrant from Mexico.

    The challenge: 

    What can the USA do from East to West, from North to South?

    Indeed there is a diversity which is a challenge.

    Aim of USA Capitals of Culture within the 'Network of Networks': 

    The link between American culture and USA Capital of Culture Institution aims to give pride to "our" ideosyncracies.

    Gleb Firsov - Theses about the Network of Cultural Networks

    1.  The idea of establishing the Network of the Cultural Networks is very important and can be productive for several reasons:

    2. The Network of Networks should be created not as a formal structure, but as a system of interlinked institutions, such as:

    3. What is the need for the Network of the Networks as a formal structure? It will only bring the bureaucracy and the debates around the membership issue with the result that this instituion evolves an exclusive as opposed to an inclusive structure. The number and variety of existing cultural networks int he world makes it absolutely necessary to create a framework in which different networks can work comfortably together and perceive each other as equals (despite the fact that there are 'big' and 'small', 'rich' and 'poor', 'influential' and 'weak' networks). It is also crucially important to involve or at least properly inform the strongest and best known of the existing cultural networks; otherwise, the intiative will not be taken seriously.

    4. As the experience of the many conferences and symposiums shows, the most important and most practical outcomes result from informal and relaxed interactions of the participants. The future forums of the Network of the Networks should be planned not as a consequence of speeches given in the plenary session, but as flexible symposium have a lot of working groups, parallel sessions devoted to specific issues and a time schedule which provides enough space for serious discussions.

    5. Any initiative which brings together several networks, even if it is organised not in the best possible way, can be very productive. Representatives of the former Volga Capital of Culture Programme and other evolving cultural networks from Russia (Network of 'nuclear' cities, network of the centres for contemporary art etc.) will be glad to join this initiative and continue the discussion on how it can be designed. 


    Rodolfos Maslias, ECCM-Network and Municipality of Athens

    "European Capitals of Culture Documentation Centre - a tool for networking "  

    In 1985, Athens was nominated the first European Capital of Culture, following initiative of the then Greek Minister of Culture, Melina Mercouri, the French Minister of Culture, Jacques Lang and the German Foreign Affairs Minister, Genser.  That was the first initiative of the European Union, regarding the cultural policy field and therefore that very first hosting of the new institution had at that time been considered an event of major importance, gathering all State and Government executives in Athens. Ever since, that remains the most important cultural institution of the European Union. 

    Recently, the European Commission decided the re-examination of the institution’s legal framework, the improvement of selection procedures and support actions, the increase of funding amounts and the creation of a more competitive context among cities of the same country, for their nomination. As a consequence, for example, for the European Capital of 2016 to be nominated, the procedure has already begun since 2005 and so far already 12 candidatures exist. In Greece, where the Inistitution will be hosted again in 2020, the interested cities are Volos, Rhodes, Kalamata and Herakleion.  

    The success of the Institution has driven to the adoption of the action in other parts of the world such as Russia, Canada, Latin America, the Arab World, Catalonia and recently, China.  In some cases the initiative is taken by private actors whereas in other cases by state or regional authorities. Still, the organization is always supported by the State of the local government.  

    Running through the European Capitals’ history, one may find various forms of organization, depending on each city’s needs and varying as to the extend and size of promotion, organizational structure, infrastructural works, sponsoring, long-term effects on local communities etc.    

    The management of the material produced by each hosting city depends on the actors (ministries of culture, municipalities, regional committees, cultural organizations, etc). But unfortunately, usually that material produced during the cultural year (audiovisual, printed, scientific, promotional etc) is archived either in municipal offices or in libraries and in most cases with no access for the public (professors, researchers, students, sponsors, cultural organizations, etc). The European Commission has not so far taken any action for the right management and use of this archived material.

    In 1992 the Network of European Capitals of Culture and Months was created and during the last five years has been making efforts for the gathering of it.

    In this view, in 2006, in Patras, was organized an exhibition regarding the Institution’s history with the presence of the Mayor of the City and past and futures hosting cities representatives.   

    The European Capitals of Culture Documentation Centre has as objective, the gathering in Athens of multimedia and electronic material from all past and future hosting cities as well as from currently candidate cities.  

    The archive to be created by the Cultural Organization of the City of Athens will be hosted in the Technopolis Cultural Centre, where one will be able to find all related information needed. Likewise, information will be available through the internet.

    The Centre will remind to all that Athens, the Institution’s birthplace, still strongly supports that idea.  

    In addition to that, a new mostly digital and audiovisual exhibition to be created on a thematical concept will tour in other European capitals and interested cities.    

    The Documentation Center will be administrated by an international steering committee, appointed by the Mayor of Athens.



    What networking entails and has to look out for: 

    With 178 languages at least in the world we need to find a system of communication.

    Intercultural dialogue is no longer a good term.

    We have become sloppy in our use of language.

    When giving too much emphasis on the periphery, we tend to loose the centre.

    Technology creates a special dynamic in use of new terms.

    There is a tendency to create new terms e.g. intercultural, intercity as if everything is in-between but never there, where are for example people in the city.

    Culture stands not only for peace, but also conflict, exclusion, indoctrination.


    Takuya Kaneda: Networking of Kids' Guernica

    Another type of collaboration is also necessary to realize such a workshop as between Chios and Izmir, Greece and Turkey. For that purpose, it is very important to create good networking among participants.

    My ten year experience of Kids' Guernica taught me the importance of networking not only among children but also between children and adults, and among different cultures. Here are some important points for promoting good networks.

    1) Non hierarchical network

    To avoid top-down control in networking, following things have to be taken into consideration. In the Kids' Guernica project, there is no director to control the whole project but each organiser can develop a workshop in his/her own way. It is the same case with the Internet: each personal computer has equal power to take the initiative. In this regard, coordination is more important than top down leadership. Dr. Hatto Fischer is a good example who is playing a great role of coordination in the Kids' Guernica project in Greece.

    2) Face to face relationship

    Cultural networking is not connecting cables but expanding human connections. The network should be like our veins which are necessary for blood circulation. It means that the network itself must be not mechanical but human. Therefore, face to face relationship is essential to make the network more vivid although computer and Internet should be utilized as a tool of communication. The Kids' Guernica events in Crete and Chios or this ECCM Symposium in Athens are good examples of gatherings to facilitate face to face relationship.

    3) Networking as an artistic action

    It is also important to consider the process of entworking as an artistic action or poetical action which requires imagination and creativity. If so, the network will be more vivid and give mor ejoy to those who got involved in the network. That is what I learned from my experience of making Kids' Guernica worldwide networks.

    At last, I would like to add one more thing which I learned through this Kids' Guernica project. We adults, should learn children's innocent enthusiasm as well as their enjoyment shown in the whole process of their art activities. If we regain it, we would be able to create new cultures. 


    Proposal 1: INECC - the Informal Network of Cultural Capitals by Simone Beck

    The Name: I would plead in favor of an informal network without statutes (that would lead - again - to endless debates). The INECC would just exist because all the "members" present in Athens in October 2007 agree to its necessity.

    The address: Its address and "meeting place" would be a website (f.i. This website should be dynamic, so that each member could easily update it himself. A virtual meeting place and place to rapidly exchange information and thoughts (blog) should also be foreseen.

    This Website can easily be conceived (and hosted by) either the new Documentation Centre, the Melina Mercouri Foundation or any member. I am sure that each network would readily pay the small contribution required to get the website started.

    The aims

    The aims of the INECC should be kept very light:

    establish and maintain contact between the member networks

    spread information about common and individual activities

    inform about interesting "outside" activities and debates

    The activities

    If the INECC wants to organise common "non virtual" activities, it could do so by organising - maybe in the cultural capital of the year, be it European or in another part of the world - a major conference about the cultural logic of public interest like the definition of culture, culture and economy, the branding of European cultural in a globalized world, the dialogue between "Europe" in a wider sense and the Arabic culture etc. Within in the INECC there are so many eminent specialists and scholars that this kind of activity could be possible. It would also allot to (re)launch an intellectual debate as it becomes more and more urgent and of vital importance in a world of shifting values.

    Simone Beck 

    Athens Oct. 20, 2007

    Information about ongoing informal meetings of the newly designated European Capitals of Culture up to 2010 and beyond:

    As to networking / dialogue between the designated cities for 2010:
    ECOCs of 2010 to cooperate for a memorable year

    2010 European Capitals of Culture, Istanbul (Turkey), Ruhr (Germany), and Pécs (Hungary), gathered in Istanbul between 24th and 26th of September, for a series of meetings organized by the Istanbul 2010 Initiative Group, to discuss their joint project proposals and future cooperation opportunities within their artistic and cultural programmes.

    Three-day programme kicked off with a welcome dinner on the 24th of September. On 25th of September, the meetings started with presentations from the three Capitals of Culture and continued with their proposals for artistic and cultural cooperation and joint projects. The next day, creative teams from 3 Capitals of Culture came together in small groups in a workshop, where specific project formulations have been discussed.

    In the meetings, Istanbul 2010 was represented by Nuri M. Colakoglu (Chairman Executive Board), Nilgun Mirze (Deputy Chairman Executive Board ), Gurhan Ertur (Deputy Chairman Executive Board), Deniz Cakar Singh (Advisory Board), Faruk Pekin, Iskender Pala, Vecdi Sayar, Cengiz Aktar, Korhan Gumus, Iffet Billur and Ozgul Ozkan Yavuz (Executive Board members), Cem Mansur (Artistic Commitee) and Istanbul 2010 ECOC Head Office (Ahmet Cakaloz, Nilgun Oren and Umit Ozdemir). Ruhrgebiet.2010 team in Istanbul included General Director Prof. Oliver Scheytt, Artistic Director Asli Sevindim, Project Coordinator Dr. Simone Koslowski, Marietta Pickenbrock (Team "City of the Arts), Eytan Pessen (Team "City of the Arts), Katja Assmann (Team "City of Possibilities") and Katja Lucker (Team "City of Creativity"). Pécs 2010 participated in the meetings with Consul General of Hungary Maria Szekely, Artistic Director Dr. Márton Méhes and Regional and International Relations Director Tamás Szalay.


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