A Hope for Europe!



The European Economic and Social Committee (EESC), Brussels

20 & 21 June 2016

How can culture and cities help build hope and a new narrative for Europe? What value should we attribute to Culture? How does Culture drive economic growth? How should Europe trace the line between the past and the present, in order to ensure a sustainable, democratic and inclusive future? How can cities transform cultural diversity into social innovation, cohesion and trust? Conversely, how can Culture and the Arts reconvert and regenerate cities, giving them a new identity? What role can Art and Culture play in articulating and consolidating Europe's identity and relations with our neighbours? Is it time for a New Renaissance for a New Europe?

These are some of the questions which were explored at the high-level conference organised by the Various Interests Group of the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) in Brussels, on 20 and 21 June 2016. Working in close partnership with the Culture and Education Committee of the European Parliament and the Centre for Fine Arts (Bozar), the event brought together over 200 persons (EESC members, European civil society, cultural organisations, foundations, etc.), to explore how, why and when Culture matters today in Europe.

Concretely, the conference explored four themes:

  • Culture as a vehicle for economic growth
  • Culture as an instrument for reconverting cities and territories
  • Culture as a tool for integration and inclusiveness
  • Reshaping European identity within Europe and beyond.

The event also provided the opportunity for the inaugural presentation of the eponymous study which was commissioned by the EESC to Culture Action Europe and United Cities and Local Governments (UCLG-Agenda 21 for culture).

In the evening of 20 June, a cultural event was organised at the EESC, demonstrating how Culture can become a global instrument of dialogue, understanding and peace-building, with a performance by the Damascus String Quintet of the Syrian Expat Philharmonic Orchestra. (SEPO)