The Central Saint Martins Event

On 10 October, “Here and Now: A Creative Vision for Europe will bring Srećko Horvat, Danae Stratou, Yanis Varoufakis, Bobby Gillespie, Rosemary Bechler, and Brian Eno together at the Platform Theatre of Central Saint Martins to consider the role of culture in the fight for the future of Europe. With a range of performance, presentation, and discussion, the event will invite citizens to help shape a new politics of culture – in Europe and beyond.

Here and Now: A creative vision for Europe will be opened with an aerial straps piece by Kit Hill which sees her suggest that perhaps the dystopian future already exists in the present and that the two might in fact be a mirror image of one another.

Mary Fitzgerald who is Editor-in-Chief of openDemocracy will be moderating the event, with Igor Stokfiszewski representing the DiEM Voice team with his presentation of the cultural policy paper process.

The event is organised by DiEM25 + DiEM Voice, and supported by Creative Unions, a CSM initiative supporting artistic collaboration across borders.

Speakers

 Brian Eno

Brian Eno

 Bobby Gillespie

Bobby Gillespie

 Danae Stratou

Danae Stratou

 Srećko Horvat

Srećko Horvat

 Rosemary Bechler

Rosemary Bechler

 Yanis Varoufakis

Yanis Varoufakis

The words gathered through this call will be used by visual artist Danae Stratou in the creation of an art video to be presented at the following event: On 10th October, Here and Now: A creative vision for Europe will bring together artists and activists at the Platform Theatre of Central Saint Martins to re-consider the role of culture in the fight for the future of our communities, our countries, Europe and the world. Combining performance, presentations, and discussion, the event seeks to empower participants to engage constructively in a new progressive politics of culture – in Europe and beyond.

DiEM Voice

From its beginning, DiEM25 has placed arts and culture at the heart of its vision of a democratic Europe. DiEM Voice takes this mission forward – dedicated to developing a new vision for culture in Europe and providing a platform for its expression.

“Here & Now”

The on-going crisis in Europe is not only economic, nor only political. Rather, we are in throes of a severe crisis of culture: ‘the disintegration, destruction or suspension of some basic elements of sociocultural life,’ as anthropologist David Badney has described it.

A culture war is, then, underway in Europe– not between the ‘anywheres’ and the ‘nowheres’, but between those who use culture to divide – by class, by race, by nation – and those who use it to connect. This war is not based in Parliament – but on the street, in our homes, and across the internet.

In order to end this war, we must create conditions for all people in Europe to exercise their right to cultural expression. In a word, we must reinvent ‘democratic culture.’

How can we achieve this goal? Such is the prompt of DiEM Voice’s London event — “Here and Now.”

Our Conversation

The fight for a democratic culture must address the key assumptions that define Europe’s current cultural regime.

The first is that culture actually means high culture: arts, theatre, opera, film, music that appear inaccessible to the vast majority of Europeans. Works produced at the grassroots, by social movements, and through neighbourhood associations are often dismissed or delegitimized.

The second is that the most appropriate model for sustainable culture is industry: from film and music to art auctions and private collections. Subordination to the market simultaneously cheapens culture — and makes it exorbitantly expensive.

The third: culture is not work. Europe’s cultural space remains highly precarious, both within institutions and outside of them. Artists in Europe are poor and powerless, with little to no social securities or pension support.

Fourth: there’s nothing worse for culture than democracy. Culture is individualistic, it’s irrational, it’s arbitrary. This assumption results in resistance to democratic governance within cultural institutions and organisations — as well as the tight control of cultural production by those with extensive resources.

How to overthrow those barriers? Which other barriers prevent the emergence of a genuinely democratic European culture?

To stimulate further discussion, we have formulated 10 questions that we present to DiEM25 members, experts, and the general public to reflect on the state of the culture war in Europe and what kind of solutions we can put forward to drive the democratisation of the continent.

We believe the above questionnaire can inspire a fruitful discussion on the future of culture and democracy in Europe. If the cultural conflicts on the street, in our homes, and across the internet present real dangers, they also present opportunities to reach people that have disengaged from traditional forms of politics – and to hear their voices in response.

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