A roadmap for Cultural Heritage and European Identities through Cultural Memory, Cultural Inclusion and Cultural Creativity


Executive Summary

The Cultural Base Platform

Our Work

Main Findings

Challenges and Key Messages for the Future


1.1. Cultural Base as social platform

1.2. Roadmap

1.3. Memory, inclusion and creativity. The three axes of Cultural Base

1.3.a. Cultural memory

1.3.b. Cultural inclusion

1.3.c. Cultural creativity

  1. Setting the Scene Per Axis

2.1. Cultural memory axis

2.1.a. Main conclusions from the state of the art review

2.1.b. Political context of cultural memory in Europe

2.2. Cultural inclusion axis

2.2.a. Main conclusions from the state of the art review

2.2.b. Political context of cultural inclusion in Europe

2.3. Cultural creativity axis

2.3.a. Main conclusions from the state of the art review

2.3.b. Political context of cultural creativity in Europe

  1. Some Challenges to Overcome

3.1 Challenges proposed by the academic stakeholders through the vision documents

3.1.a Cultural memory axis challenges

3.1.b Cultural inclusion axis challenges

3.1.c Cultural creativity axis challenges

3.2 Challenges identified by the stakeholders network

3.2.a Cultural Memory Axis

3.2.b Cultural Inclusion Axis

3.2.c Cultural Creativity Axis

  1. Envisioning the Future

4.1. Lines of action to develop

4.1.a Cultural memory axis

4.1.b Cultural inclusion axis

4.1.c Cultural creativity axis

  1. Conclusions
  2. Suggested Readings

6.1 Vision documents

6.2 Key policy documents

6.3 Scholarly works


Executive summary

The Cultural Base Platform

Cultural Base is a Social Platform funded by the European Commission’s Horizon 2020 programme for the period May 2015-April 2017. Cultural Base aims to address the issue of heritage and European identities from both an analytical and a public policy perspective.

As a social platform, Cultural Base has sought to explore the new challenges and potential of culture as an area of public policy that can foster a sense of belonging and provide new avenues for social innovation and socio-economic development. The Cultural Base Platform has organised our thinking and consultations on these issues along three main axes: (1) Cultural memory – how to deal with a troubled past, how to elaborate uses of the past for understanding the present and planning the future; (2) Cultural inclusion – how culture is intertwined with feelings of belonging, what are relevant tensions, those ‘left behind’ or ‘outside’ dominant conceptions of identity and culture;  and, (3) Cultural creativity – how can culture be a basis for citizen expression, participation, and economic activity.

Our Work

The work of the Cultural Base Platform has been organised into three phases: reviewing relevant academic and policy debates; consulting with stakeholders; engaging in constructive dialogue with a view of identifying new topics and concerns that have hitherto been neglected in dominant policy approaches.

Main Findings

The Cultural Base project has highlighted a positive trend in research, policy, and practice dealing with issues of memory, identity, and creativity: there is an increasing concern about inclusiveness and self-reflexivity. Dominant cultural narratives are questioned at the local, national, and European levels. The economistic paradigm on cultural creativity and cultural expression is also questioned.

There is increasing awareness that dark and contested moments exist in both the shared European past and national histories, and that citizens and civil-society actors and institutions must be informed and empowered to participate in relevant debates and the (re)construction or (trans)formation of their cultural heritage. Policy documents published by the European Commission, the European Parliament, the Council of Europe, and UNESCO attest to this positive trend towards an opening up and democratisation of cultural heritage policies. Culture is also increasingly seen as a transversal factor that can have a meaningful impact on socioeconomic development, employment, and growth both directly through the cultural and creative industries but also indirectly by creating more inclusive and more cohesive societies.

Challenges and Key Messages for the Future

Populist politicians often disparage critical engagement with the dark sides of our past—whether at the local, national or European level—as unpatriotic and blind to the ‘true’ historical facts. The media do not help foster such critical engagement either. Citizens need to be empowered through innovative on-site or online consultations to participate, particularly when the questions are local or national in nature and they feel directly affected (e.g. with regards to a local monument or the history of a specific area).

Youth, minorities, and women—and their organisations—often are bypassed by established networks of cooperation and exchange. There should be more cross-fertilisation between networks that specifically address migrants or minorities and networks that address cultural heritage and creativity more generally.

Digital technologies are not yet utilised to their full potential in bridging this divide and empowering weaker or newer or more remote organisations to participate in the core dialogue and activities.

The purely economistic paradigm of cultural expression and creativity must be overcome in order to see the full spectrum of possibilities offered by culture and heritage for creating new activities and jobs, as well as for making people feel happier, included, and creative.

Cultural rights and human rights policies and debates need to be further cross-fertilised. There is an urgent need to combat cultural hierarchies both within and outside Europe.

We need to earmark funds and programmes for innovative high-risk, high-gain projects We need initiatives that engage with issues that are important for the artists and their public, yet also economically viable and resilient.


1.     Introduction

1.1. Cultural Base as social platform

Cultural Base is a social platform funded by the European Commission’s Horizon 2020 Framework Programme 2014-2015 “Europe in a changing world: inclusive, innovative and reflective societies”. Cultural Base aims to address the topic of heritage and European identities from both analytical and public policy perspectives.

As a social platform, Cultural Base explores the new challenges and potential of culture as an area of public policy that can foster a sense of belonging as well as provide new avenues for social innovation and socio-economic development. The Cultural Base Platform has organised our thinking and consultations on these issues along three main axes: (1) Cultural memory – how to deal with a troubled past, how to elaborate uses of the past for understanding the present and planning the future; (2) Cultural inclusion – how culture is intertwined with feelings of belonging, what are relevant tensions, those ‘left behind’ or ‘outside’ dominant conceptions of identity and culture;  and, (3) Cultural creativity – how can culture be a basis for citizen expression and participation as well as economic activity.

The work of the Cultural Base Platform has been organised into three phases: reviewing relevant academic and policy debates; consulting with stakeholders; engaging in constructive dialogue with a view to identifying new topics and concerns that have hitherto been neglected in dominant policy approaches.

1.2. Roadmap

Cultural Base has adopted a participative process; while initial topics for reflection were proposed by the consortium partners, non-academic stakeholders took centre stage in the second phase through both online and on-site consultations at the Platform’s workshops and conferences. Thus, researchers, practitioners, and policymakers have collaborated in developing a new research and policy agenda on culture’s role in Europe today.

Our work was developed during three main phases:

  • Summer 2015: The Consortium developed six Discussion Papers—both in long version for academic consultations and in short version for policy and stakeholder consultation—on the three axes of memory, identity, and creativity.
  • These papers were debated at the first Cultural Base Workshop in Barcelona (30 September-1 October 2015). The workshop opened with the papers’ presentation by Consortium members at the Academic Sessions. It then broke out into stakeholder sessions, where NGO and cultural foundation representatives or curators took the lead in commenting. The main points from each session were then reported back and discussed during the Concluding Sessions.

This Workshop established a solid and shared base for discussion and future work for all involved stakeholders. In particular, the workshop achieved two objectives in an atmosphere of mutual learning and participation: (1) to identify and select the main issues to be further studied and discussed within each axis; (2) to assess the more general concerns emerging from policy and academic documents vs the more specific experiences and challenges stakeholders face in their everyday work.

  • The project’s second phase focused on online consultations with a wider pool of stakeholders across Europe. On the basis of the main issues highlighted at the first workshop, the Consortium prepared short ‘Vision Documents’ identifying the main challenges for European culture and identity in terms of heritage and memory; concerning a feeling of belonging and inclusion/exclusion; and, with regards to cultural production and expression of creativity. These Vision Documents were put up for discussion through the Cultural Base Platform (www.culturalbase.eu) in early spring 2016 in the run-up to the Major Stakeholder Conference.
  • The Conference took place in Barcelona on 11-12 May 2016 under the theme “Co-creating Agendas for Culture in Europe. Memory, Inclusion, Creativity”. It brought together 80 participants, including researchers, practitioners and the Cultural Base Advisory Board members. The working sessions were organized in small groups (Working Teams) to provide for in-depth discussions among participants, led by a Team Leader from the Stakeholders’ network. These Working Sessions led to the selection of 12 Thematic Areas that became the basis for developing research agendas and policy recommendations.
  • Within the Thematic Areas—and after reviewing the existing research and policy programmes, both national and European—the Consortium produced a Draft Research and Policy Agendas document that was sent out for consultation with selected stakeholders.
  • The 2nd Cultural Base Policy Workshop was held in Florence on 1-2 December 2016 with mid-level stakeholders (cultural institutes, networks of stakeholders working on cultural issues, foundations) to discuss our draft research and policy agenda recommendations.
  • Further to these discussions, the Cultural Base Consortium organised a Policy Seminar in Brussels on 31 January 2017 entitled “Cultural heritage policies for a troubled Europe. Proposals from the Cultural Base Social Platform”. This seminar brought together EU policymakers and coordinators of relevant research projects to assess the immediate challenges for cultural policy in Europe. The debate focused on the main policy-oriented results of the Platform thus far and, most importantly, the recently adopted plan for celebrating 2018 as the European Year of Cultural Heritage.
  • Following up on these consultations, the Cultural Base consortium has produced the final version of the Research and Policy Agendas as well as this Roadmap outlining the main points and conclusions of this two-year project.

This Roadmap documents the different steps outlined above. It also highlights the main points debated and the main conclusions reached.

1.3. Memory, inclusion, and creativity. The three axes of Cultural Base

The Cultural Base project understands that the role of culture has experienced a profound mutation through which both its position and role in social dynamics have been transformed since the second half of the last century. From having had a super-structural and autonomous position in the past, culture has become a central and structural aspect of contemporary societies.

Our work on the research and policies developed in this new cultural context was organized around the three main analytical axes of cultural memory, cultural inclusion, and cultural creativity which are privileged perspectives for identifying the most important challenges and opportunities linked to culture and heritage in Europe. The three axes that form the Cultural Base framework are included in the specific societal challenge “Europe in a changing world–inclusive, innovative and reflective societies”. Cultural heritage, creative expression, and diversity are the basic concepts for analysis; they provided lenses through which this heterogeneous and complex field can be approached.

Our analysis was structured through a two-stage targeting process: a first exploration of the general topic from the three main axes and a second period of in-depth examination. In this sense, our analytical objectives were organized around two categories of a different order, one broad and one targeted. The first we defined as Thematic Fields, delimited by the intersection between one axis and one of the basic components of the general topic (heritage or identities), and the second which we defined as Thematic Areas understood more specific issues.

1.3.a. Cultural memory

In the traditional view, heritage was seen either as the universal patrimony of humanity or as rooted in the memories of a specific people, generally a nation. The former is an inclusive understanding of heritage as the property of all peoples and the latter generally an exclusive one as the memory of national community.

Both views of heritage as something shared have been challenged by new understandings and practices of heritage related to the awakening of new memories and increased contestation around the nature of political community. Universalistic notions of the patrimony of humanity, for example, have been challenged by collective identities seeking the recognition of their specific claims to heritage—claims that are often underpinned by cultural rights, including heritage rights. Such developments do not fit into the pattern of national traditions of heritage since in many cases the groups in question are marginalised by the national culture, which has lost its integrative powers. These developments take place alongside new transnational dynamics whereby cultures become increasingly intertwined and consequently lose their claims to uniqueness. As a result, the analysis of cultural memory and the study of identity more broadly have been fundamentally transformed.

The Cultural Memory Axis seeks to understand the implications of such trends whereby both universalistic and national traditions of heritage are challenged by a new emphasis on marginalised and excluded memories seeking the recognition of their heritage.

There has also been a shift away from forgetting towards remembering that which has been forgotten. The desire to create new unitary memories is less prevalent, and amnesia is no longer a source of strength. While this shift is taking place on the level of national identities, it can be seen as particularly pertinent to the wider European cultural heritage. It raises the central question of whether European heritage should be seen in terms of remembering that which has been forgotten or whether it should be seen as the expression of a new kind of memory that might reconcile memory with history. New kinds of remembrance that are more receptive to critique may be more in tune with history’s critical function.

1.3.b. Cultural inclusion

Cultural inclusion is intertwined with the notion of European identity or identities in the plural. Indeed, the last two decades have witnessed a ‘Europeanization’ of identities in Europe. However, this Europeanization is not necessarily smooth. It signals the increased importance of the European dimension in transforming cultural and political identities at the national and regional levels. Such transformation, however, may also take place through denial of the European dimension or by contesting its meaning. European identity is more diluted than the concept of identity normally suggests, but it is also broader and thus involves more interpretations. The result is that there is more, not less, contestation of the meaning of Europe as well less clarity as to what it is.

European identity can be seen as an internal transformation of national identities rather than as an anti-national or external identity. Thus viewed, it is not a case of European versus national identities; rather, it is the Europeanization of national identities that is significant. Indeed, many national identities have found the means of advancing their interests within the project of European integration while also re-orienting their self-understanding.

European and national identities are important axes for inclusion and exclusion in Europe. National culture and national identities are themselves highly diverse and there are often greater internal differences within a given country than between countries. It is not the case of a coherent national identity resisting a dominant European identity any more than it is a matter of national identity being replaced by a new European identity. This is one of the more significant forms that post-national identity takes today. Rather than a supra-national identity, it is a self-understanding that recognises the relativity and plurality of the notion of the nation.

While officially the EU discourse on European identity and culture celebrates diversity in popular catchphrases like ‘Unity in Diversity’, how far should the notion of diversity be taken? If culture is only a matter of diversity, does this mean that it is no longer possible to speak of unity? Unity and diversity are mutually constitutive: unity can never be homogenous because it would exclude diversity, and diversity can never be so extreme that it would make unity impossible.

But diversity can itself give rise to new expressions of unity. This issue has very important implications for cultural policies at both the EU and national or local levels that need to reflect plurality and reconcile equality and difference. The Cultural Inclusion Axis has investigated the difficult nodes of the European ‘unity in diversity’ dimension, considering how notions of European identity and a European cultural heritage address and/or reflect socio-economic inequality, experiences of mobility, religious pluralism, post-colonial narratives, and urban complexity.

1.3.c. Cultural creativity

Cultural creativity, associated almost exclusively with the world of artistic and literary creation, has become a key concept for both citizenship and socio-economic inclusion. Academic literature, as well as reports and recommendations in public and cultural policies, use creativity as a key concept for understanding and promoting urban regeneration processes, economic development, and social inclusion. In this context, cultural creativity has been understood, instrumentally, as a prelude to innovation processes. Because of this, cultural creativity has been involved in a narrow narrative, almost exclusively associated with processes of economic development in urban contexts. Concepts such as creative economy, creative cities, and the creative class are a representative sample of this hegemonic discourse on cultural creativity.

There are alternative views, however, that have tended to be marginalized. The expedient subordination of culture to the creative economy has been challenged. Culture and creativity are central to processes of socialization, and how they are used from a policy point of view has major implications for diversity and integration. Most cultural work is precarious—a point that is lost in the dominant narrative. Moreover, it often involves collaboration in moral economies that co-exist with competitive economies but whose workings are obscured. Alternatives to creative economy thinking have been largely screened out of the debate.

The Cultural Creativity Axis reflects on the concept of creativity within the framework of a different narrative. New channels of cultural creativity that have an impact on both cultural production and cultural consumption are opened up by phenomena such as globalization and digitization; mobility, migration processes, cultural encounters, and the formation of identities; urban and social transformations; and, new forms of labour.

Our work within this framework, involves, to begin with, identifying and assessing institutional and practical frameworks of cultural creativity that effectively transcend or oppose the economistic paradigm. We seek alternative definitions and also examples of best practice, where cultural creativity has other purposes such as social inclusion of migrants, minorities, the elderly, or the unemployed.

The Creativity Axis also seeks to develop a discussion to identify the possible bases for an alternative view on the value of culture and creativity. In considering specific empirical cases, we address the new systems of valuation and evaluation of culture that seek to go beyond the economistic paradigm and which are currently emerging in different countries both within and outside Europe.

Finally, we discuss practical and conceptual aspects of cultural hybridization processes linked to cultural production or cultural expression in Europe. Hybridization processes have been scrutinized in some cases and fields, mostly in relation to popular music, but hardly at all in others. Mainstream research tends to ignore them, thus disregarding or misunderstanding the potential role of diversity in urban dynamics. Within this framework, we seek experiences, models, and policies (at the local, national or European level) that favour the proliferation of hybrid cultural expressions and their valorisation from which we can learn.


2. Setting the scene per axis

2.1. Cultural memory axis

2.1.a. Main conclusions from the state of the art review

Even though in this axis cultural memory was analysed in relation to identity, on one hand, and heritage on the other, the state of the art review pointed out the indivisibility of the concepts of memory, heritage, and identity since every claim for identity seems to be about mobilizing memory, crystallized in tangible or intangible traces (heritage).

Several main points emerged from our review: the development and changes in the field of (cultural) memory studies; the problematization of transnational memories and a need to also perceive the past from the perspective of the defeated; and, the need to encounter Europe’s dark heritage.

During the last three decades there have been significant developments in the field of cultural memory studies that explore the (intentional) ways of making sense of the past through narratives in order to strengthen collective identities. Some of the main problems analysed are changes in the conception of memory, from the art of memory to those that are more instrumentally mediatized; passive memory and its activation; and the difference between communicative and cultural memory, as well as the transformation of the uses of memory as a foundation of national-belonging to memory’s democratization and the importance of individual memory. At the same time, some of these changes have impacted on personal identities.

A transnational methodology is particularly important for studying European memory, heritage, and identity; this flexible approach combines multidirectionality, hybridity and entanglement. Memories are multidirectional; they frame one another, and that multidirectionality demonstrates how entangled pasts are. Focusing on this nature of heritage leads us to consider relationships, transfers, and interactions, and this helps us recognise and study the degree to which hybridity becomes a part of identity-making in contemporary Europe. Hybrid cultures and identities are less dependent on cultural anchors. Thus one of the aims of a transnational approach to heritage is to identify hidden forms of hybridity, and in so doing, shift the moorings of cultural discourse in more critical, reflective and cosmopolitan directions.

The state of the art review drew attention to the fact that another important aspect for studies of European memory is to embrace the dark past, to deal with dissonant heritage or misuses of heritage and perceive memory equally from the point of view of the defeated. Thus, there is a duty to memorize and embrace the heritage of the slave trade, colonization and post-colonial exploitation, the Holocaust and Armenian and other genocides. Furthermore, this is linked to a need to approach collective cultural memory in relation to immigration and the inclusion of minorities in general—particularly, how to recognise and valorise past and present migrant communities and other minorities, as well as their heritage within any broader ‘European’ conceptions and identify memory institutions and actors that have developed successful approaches.

2.1.b. Political context of cultural memory in Europe

Recent decades have witnessed a variety of conceptual and policy developments at the European and international levels acknowledging the meaning that cultural heritage can bring to society as a whole.

The following conceptual shifts should be especially highlighted:

  • In the 1970s there was a conceptual transformation as regards cultural heritage from a conservation-led to a value-led approach.
  • During the 1990s, the principles of “sustainability” featured more prominently in policy documents on cultural heritage, and increasingly combined with the objective of “development”.
  • A growing recognition, not only across Europe but also in the rest of the world, of the all-inclusive nature of the historic environment, where tangible and intangible assets are no longer perceived as separate from one another.
  • The Faro Convention, adopted in 2005 by Council of Europe, contributed to the policy shift towards people and human values at the centre of a renewed understanding of cultural heritage.

The greater recognition of the importance of cultural heritage and the policy shift at the EU level became evident through a series of conferences, events, and far-reaching strategic policy documents adopted by the EU Council of Ministers and the Council of the European Union: Conclusions on Cultural Heritage as a Strategic Resource for a Sustainable Europe, adopted on 21 May 2014; Conclusions on Participatory Governance of Cultural Heritage, adopted on 25 November 2014; and the European Commission’s Communication Towards an Integrated Approach to Cultural Heritage for Europe, adopted on 22 July 2014.

Another important aspect of the Faro Convention that continued to be developed was the linking of heritage rights and human rights. Thus, rights relating to cultural heritage are perceived as inherent in the right to participate in cultural life, as defined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights; furthermore, individual and collective responsibility towards cultural heritage is recognized, and the conservation of cultural heritage, its sustainable use and links to human development and quality of life as goals, is emphasized. As to the right to a cultural life as a core element of human rights, a new report engages explicitly with these issues: in March 2017, the Human Rights Council of the United Nations published another “Report of the Special Rapporteur in the field of cultural rights”. Reiterating the content of previous reports by the current special rapporteur, Farida Shaheed, and her predecessor Karima Bennoune, it further emphasized the role and potential of cultural rights as crucial when combating fundamentalism and extremism—an aspect intrinsically linked to the deliberate destruction of cultural heritage and the trade in stolen artefacts.

Regarding policies related to museums as important heritage institutions, the perception of their agency has been especially transformed by the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe’s 2016 resolution on “The libraries and museums in Europe in times of change”. It emphasizes both the merging of museums and other public and cultural institutions as well as the public role of these institutions. The document advocates for member States to help these heritage institutions become financially resilient and maintain their community role. The rapporteur, Lady Eccles, gave particular focus to small and medium-sized institutions, and while she clearly had the UK in mind (major funding cuts precipitated an unprecedented closure of local libraries), the Draft Resolution recognised this as a shared European issue.

What is urgently needed is a vision of European cultural heritage that will enable different groups to insert themselves and articulate their counter-memories. For this to happen, heritage will have to cease to be a cultural comfort zone in which Europe only celebrates its achievements. It will need to move into and confront more directly the difficult and often traumatic legacies of history and the excluded and forgotten memories of many cultures, which also have claims to a European heritage.

One of the challenges for curators, educators, academics, creative artists and all those concerned with giving expression to European cultural heritage is apprehending the ways in which historical self-understandings have shifted and the ways in which culture both unites and divides.

The idea of heritage must be divested of singular notions of the past that were inventions of the modern national state. Such an alternative vision will require capturing the critical dimension of heritage as a way in which the present redefines itself in relation to the past in light of different and often conflicting accounts of the past. Working through cultural heritage is not then about confirming preconceived views about the past; it is also an uncomfortable learning process and a medium of reflexivity and re-interpretation.

2.2. Cultural inclusion axis

2.2.a. Main conclusions from the state of the art review

This axis investigated the links between identity, culture, and heritage to illuminate the interdependence and interaction between the local, national and European levels.

European identity is, like all collective identities, in the eye of the beholder. It is shaped by the socio-economic, national, subjective, and objective circumstances of the subject that expresses it. It can be enacted or simply expressed through discourses. It is one among many collective identities that people have, and is in constant evolution. There is no essence of a European identity that has always existed and that remains immutable. European identity is part of a multiple set of identity features that may form part of an individual’s identity, and its salience varies not only among individuals but in line with a given context and situation.

We understand European identity as deeply intertwined with national identity and reject the conflictual model in which national and European identities are understood to be in an antagonistic or zero-sum relationship. The question of whether European identity is primarily political or cultural can be answered only with reference to a specific historical moment. Thus, today European identity is predominantly cultural in character and not political. It goes hand in hand—sometimes in tension and other times in mutual support—with different national identities, but it is nowhere near supplanting them. Actually it is the cultural connotations that make European identity today compatible with strong national identities.

Our review of relevant academic and policy literature poses the question of whether European identity is essentially open to diversity and inclusive. Here, answers are more tentative. Dominant European identity narratives today turn diversity into a distinctive feature of European identity. While this view entails a risk of reifying sub-national and national identities and neglecting important processes of national and regional or ethnic identity transformations, it is also promising because it remains open to diversity. However, there is a risk here that European identity becomes an empty shell and completely loses its cultural vitality that it becomes too ‘thin’ to matter.

Last but not least, a more careful and critical inquiry shows that the type of diversity that can be incorporated into European identity is less open-ended than one would think. Minorities and immigrants, Muslims, and Roma have a hard time identifying as Europeans or being accepted as such. Indeed racism and ideas of ethnic superiority are strong historical elements that have in the past constituted European identity. Today, they are officially discredited yet often creep into the everyday encounters among Europeans as well as in political debates, especially those that centre around security.

Identity, not only national but also European, can best be understood as a dispositif: it is a device for social or political ends. Thus, rather than focusing on what European identity is, one should pay more attention to what European identity does. While European identity has not been inimical to national identities and actually has buttressed, indirectly, the development of regional national identities in places like Catalonia or Scotland (which saw in European identity a way to bypass the straitjackets of the multinational Spanish or British states), its effects on immigrant populations and ethnic minorities are ambivalent. While on one hand, European institutions like the European Union or the Council of Europe have taken a leading role in developing international law instruments for the protection of ‘old’ ethnic (mainly linguistic and cultural) minorities in the post-1989 period, the European identity construct has rather marginalized and excluded ‘new’ minorities like Muslims of different ethnic origins and particularly disadvantaged groups like the Roma.

2.2.b. Political context of cultural inclusion in Europe

Addressing the challenges of cultural and religious diversity in liberal democratic societies is arguably one of the pressing challenges of the 21st century for Europe. During the last 25 years, there have been intensive political and academic debates on the appropriate normative and policy framework for addressing cultural diversity in Europe. In terms of discourse, many politicians (including David Cameron, Angela Merkel, and Nicolas Sarkozy) and intellectuals have argued that the philosophy of multiculturalism has failed. In terms of policies, integration priorities have increasingly taken a civic assimilationist turn, emphasising a set of common civic and political values to which all migrants and ethnic minorities must adhere.

Instead of perpetuating the intellectual and policy debate on the death or resurrection of multiculturalism, work conducted under the Cultural Base project emphasises the different socio-economic and political context (compared to that of the 1980s and 1990s) within which cultural inclusion policies operate today. Despite positive signs of economic recovery in the last few years, Europe is still in crisis: turmoil in the Middle East, international terrorism, refugee and economic migration pressures in the Mediterranean, the Brexit negotiation, and rising populism mark this second decade of the new millennium. Important research within Migration Studies, Human Geography, Sociology, and Social Anthropology has charted new patterns of mobility and migration in the last 15 years and has identified a new paradigm of mobility without settlement, both in terms of migration patterns but also in terms of migration policies available to newcomers as conditions of naturalisation become more stringent and the loyalty of post-migration minorities is questioned.

Intra-EU mobility has also increased during the last 15 years, both prior to and after the 2004 and 2007 waves of EU enlargement. Non-EU migrants and ethnic minorities are confronted with more stringent conditions of naturalisation and required civic assimilation, while intra-EU migrants are neglected as populations that do not need to be supported as they are integrated de facto by the mere fact of being EU citizens.

These developments can have contrasting effects. On one hand they point to a challenging landscape of securitisation, fear, exclusion of minorities and migrants as well as the poor and more vulnerable segments of the population. On the other, policymakers, stakeholders, and civil society have been arguing for quite some time that answers to contemporary challenges do not lie simply in more economic growth or lower unemployment rates. Culture and identity can become driving forces for inclusion and social cohesion.


2.3. Cultural creativity axis

2.3.a. Main conclusions from the state of the art review

Currently, the dominant approach to understanding culture and creativity in the EU is to focus on its economic aspects. Within this framework, cultural creativity has functioned as a key concept for understanding and promoting urban regeneration processes and economic development in many European cities. The result has been the emergence of a narrative where creativity is understood within the economic framework and linked with innovation processes. Policies and interventions promoted under the economic framework of cultural creativity have several social, political, and territorial limitations that have been identified by numerous scholars.

Economic limitation: Economic reductionism is the main shortcoming and limitation of this kind of narrative. In this sense, creativity is only discussed in the context of socio-economic interactions, leaving out other frameworks of (non-economic) interaction and creativity. Some analysts point out that social and cultural creativity and diversity is understood and valued only as an input for innovation, economic development, and the competition between cities in this context.

Social limitation: The treatment of workers involved in this type of economic interaction is also reductionist. While many scholars within the economistic paradigm of cultural creativity understand and promote diversity from a broad perspective—ranging from ethno-linguistic factors, national origin, vocational and sexual orientation as a key element of creativity, innovation and economic growth—it excludes social origin in its approach. Therefore, diversity is reduced to people with “talent” belonging to the so-called creative class, which means highly-qualified workers from the middle and upper middle classes. Within this kind of hegemonic narrative, creativity is also understood as an “individual” talent, and not as a social and collective process.

Territorial limitation: This kind of narrative tends to focus and promote policies almost exclusively in urban city centres, omitting suburban and rural areas. Secondly, the analysis and recommendations under the umbrella of creative cities also tend to promote urban regeneration processes linked to cultural consumption from a strictly economic point of view. The economistic paradigm also creates a picture of the space of creativity as a bounded and restricted realm of specialists focused on commodified cultural products and the gifted creators that produce them, where a strict barrier separates those creators from consumers who are essentially passive and where there is a radical hierarchization of places, cultural institutions, and cultural creators.

Political limitation: Finally, several of the cultural policies within the economistic narrative of cultural creativity, especially those related to urban-regeneration processes and economic development, result from a top-down logic that places the definition of the project, and a good proportion of its development, in the upper levels of government, with little effective participation of the local community.

Disconnecting cultural creativity from economic and business innovation narratives could help understand and promote alternative socio-cultural practices. Indeed, cultural creativity could function as a key element of active citizenship promoting integration and inclusion among different cultures from inside and outside Europe. A non-restrictive conception of creativity would imply defining new value frameworks and policies beyond the economic paradigm. If we understand cultural creativity as an ideal space of intercultural exchange and we interpret these processes in terms of cultural hybridisation and cultural inclusion, cultural creativity could contribute towards creating a more diverse and inclusive Europe.

2.3.b. Political context of cultural  creativity in Europe

At present, the dominant approach in the European Commission to valuing culture is to focus on its economic impact in terms of employment, turnover, and business formation with a particular eye on the balance of international trade—a tendency enhanced by the continuing financial crisis. This is also the approach taken by many member States. Although this type of quantification has its uses, inevitably there is much that it fails to capture. Those working in the sector know the limitations of this dominant approach but there is a political imperative—at every level—to comply with the demand to account for public expenditure on culture, as it is headline claims about the creative economy that carry the greatest political weight. In the past decade, as well-evidenced by work undertaken for the European Commission and European Parliament, there has been a drive to develop indicators to demonstrate the value of the cultural and creative industries (CCIs).

A landmark example is work undertaken for the Commission by the Brussels-based consultancy KEA, which has continued to undertake numerous projects in a similar vein. KEA’s 2009 report The Impact of Culture on Creativity report sought “to have a better understanding of the influence of culture on creativity, a motor of economic and social innovation”. It argued that “productivity gains at manufacturing level are no longer sufficient to establish a competitive advantage” thus what was needed was “culture-based creativity”—the kind of thinking beyond production that has made Apple such a global force in design  or shaped Virgin’s renown for adding to the “experience” of long-haul aviation. The argument is intended to insert creativity into innovation policy, to “[b]rand Europe as the place to create” along with establishing new programmes, institutions and regulatory frameworks to support “creative and cultural collaboration”.

By 2010, the “growth path for the creative economy” was part of the Commission’s working framework, as emphasised by Commissioner Androulla Vassiliou. The European Commission Green Paper published in 2010 set out how CCIs can contribute to economic development and rehearsed the conventional wisdom about their nature and role. The Green Paper outlined steps taken to develop a European Agenda for Culture and the Culture Programme (2007-2013). It pointed forward to what has since become a strategic concern with the “digital economy”. While the creative policy turn has not produced uniformity of thinking inside the EU, it has had an impact on how culture is viewed in policymaking circles. National differences also persist about what to include and exclude, in line with the weight of the diverse institutional development of individual member States. Categorization of creative industries is linked to measurement, which is of growing importance for the global governance of the creative economy.

Since 2012, the question of how to measure CCI activity and impact has been firmly on the EU agenda. KEA was commissioned to create a scale for benchmarking or set of indicators with a view to measuring policies focused on local economic development through the Creative and Cultural Industries. The European Parliament has taken the same approach, suggesting a shift of budgetary resources to culture, thus underlining the latter’s potential to support economic development and social inclusion.

The quest to measure culture’s economic impact is played out both at the member State and EU levels—and indeed globally. The EU Culture Ministers adopted the 2015-2018 Work Plan for Culture in 2014. It recalls the contribution of the cultural and creative sectors to economic, social and regional development. In the case of the UN, for instance, there has now been a series of three Creative Economy Reports.

The creative economy is one of the priorities set forth by the Council Work Plan for Culture. This priority focuses attention on key topics such as the role of public policies in promoting the cultural and creative crossovers as catalysts of innovation, economic sustainability, and social inclusion. In particular, it proposes to explore and encourage synergies between the cultural and creative sectors and other sectors on the wider economy and society such as education, and social care.

There are no public policies involving social inclusion or active citizenship through cultural creativity. Nevertheless there are several examples of such community-based projects: Utrecht’s Stut Theatre, Rotterdam’s Wijtheater and the International Community Arts Festival (in the Netherlands); Ballhaus Naunynstrasse in Berlin; the Copenhagen Music Theatre. Naturally such ground-breaking practices also testify to the challenges of moulding together cultural expression with local social issues as shown by Augusto Boal’s Theatre of the Oppressed methodology.

Several projects have addressed the educational dimension of CCIs. Interesting examples are offered by Apropa Cultura in Catalonia, a social and educational program targeting people who cannot access cultural activities in equal conditions, or area-specific programs like the Diamond Project (Dialoguing Museums for a New Cultural Democracy), which brought together a group of scientific museums and research centres committed to providing learning opportunities for adults through the use of ICT and storytelling.

Under a new paradigm of citizen participation and co-production, a generation of cultural institutions has emerged that are reshaping the idea of institutional spaces for creativity. Examples include La Friche La Belle de Mai in Marseille, public programs in Spain like Fàbriques de Creació de Barcelona in Catalonia, and Fábricas de Creación in the Basque Country or Matadero Madrid.

Other interesting initiatives addressing cultural creativity and diversity include the Italian “social theatres” like Teatro delle Albe in Ravenna and Teatro Nascosto in Volterra, or The Global Music Academy in Berlin. The latter is a private music school that works in areas with a high proportion of immigrants and uses a holistic approach to develop musical capacities, training musicians, musicologists, producers, and cultural managers in the styles and practices of different music cultures around the world. Finally, the recently-inaugurated House of European History in Brussels represents how a critical view can promote a diverse curatorial approach.

3. Some challenges to overcome

3.1 Challenges proposed by the academic stakeholders through the vision documents

3.1.a Cultural memory axis challenges

Challenge 1: Is it possible for European societies—and Europe more generally—to create a transnational form of heritage that reflects transnational and entangled memories and identities? How can we prevent new and more inclusive narratives from themselves becoming hegemonic?

Challenge 2: Can work on ‘difficult heritage’—the shared dark pasts of a Europe divided by conflict, racism, and other horrors—be useful for the future of European identity? How can we reconcile a conception of heritage that expresses the positive legacy of the past as well as the dark side of history? How can collective memories be enriched by the complexities of historical research without a loss of identity for the collectivity?

Challenge 3: Should European institutions put human rights-based approaches at the core of how they manage, teach, and represent heritage? Do ‘rights’ approaches risk reigniting divisions based on ideas of ‘ownership’ of the remnants of the past? Do they also validate culturalism and, more generally, singular perspectives of the past that might be exclusionary?

Challenge 4: European heritage places and practices are increasingly repackaged for tourism. How does tourism change public understandings of, and access to, heritage? Do national and regional branding and place-making strategies oversimplify heritage and change how it is represented and understood? How is participation in heritage—as a worker, consumer, and a citizen—shaped by tourism?

3.1.b Cultural inclusion axis challenges

Consultation with stakeholders conducted within the Cultural Base project has identified the following challenges.

Challenge 1: European identity discourses were invented as political discourses to legitimise the EU and a united Europe as a political and economic construct. They have an instrumental legitimacy. There is a need to reorient these discourses and consider their cultural and political legitimacy as such.

Challenge 2: European culture is often hijacked by: high-level cultural institutions that receive national and European funding to promote official programmes of identity-building and national culture display; ‘mobile Europeans’ who speak languages and travel and usually come from the educated, urban, middle classes, thus neglecting those at the margins; or populists who presume authenticity for the national cultures and hence deny the potential of a European culture and identity that recognises and incorporates plurality without losing its power for unity.

Challenge 3: European culture and identity are tainted by global power relations and related political and cultural/religious hierarchies. It is very difficult to undo these, particularly in a global context that is rife with violence, civil wars, and international terrorism, and where local integration problems are sometimes short-circuited by global inequalities and hierarchies that may  be responsible for producing the foreign fighter phenomenon.

Challenge 4: Cultural and religious diversity issues are inextricably related with socioeconomic inequalities as well as discrimination in the labour market and in public space. Terrorism fuels this vicious circle of suspicion and discrimination, threatening social cohesion and security at home and abroad.

3.1.c Cultural creativity axis challenges

Challenge 1: Are there alternative ways of thinking about the role of culture and creativity in the EU? Identifying examples of new scenarios, dynamics, and good practices oriented less towards economistic goals and more towards social and cultural engagement would be a good starting point. Some of these artistic practices are open to the challenges of diversity at the local level. How can we learn from their experience? How can we value and measure the impact of such projects?

Challenge 2: How to create a normative consensus to understand and promote cultural practices that connect the creative forces of a society with more democratic purposes such as social and cultural inclusion? Is it possible to define a new cultural creativity narrative? On what grounds should this be based? How can the roles of creators and mediators be redefined in the context of such a new paradigm of creativity?

Challenge 3: How to reinforce the European cosmopolitanism tradition as a cultural and institutional basis favourable for intercultural exchange and hybridisation processes through cultural creativity?

Challenge 4: How to elaborate new public policies of cultural creativity oriented towards promoting intercultural exchange and community engagement? Public grants and subsidies are mostly goal-oriented and short-term, hindering creative processes and proposals that go beyond annual budget cycles. Bottom-up transnational processes from the civil society of cultural creativity are not widespread, isolating them and leading them to operate in tenuous conditions. Is it possible to define new public and cultural policies that encourage cultural creativity in terms of cultural exchanges, community and local engagement? What guidelines and objectives should be followed? What examples of existing policies should be considered as a reference? What types of mechanisms of recognition, support, and legitimation would be necessary for sustaining a new dynamic of creativity beyond the market?

3.2 Challenges identified by the stakeholders network

3.2.a Cultural Memory Axis

In discussions with academic and other stakeholders the following suggestions have been made:

Citizens should not just be given access to heritage or just participate in it, they should also be given the tools to critically deal with heritage. Focusing on this aspect may help society deal better with the contestations around heritage since individuals will be empowered to become critical consumers and makers of heritage and thus may be cautious in overly focusing on shared narratives and silencing dissonance or ‘dark’ moments of the past. The same is true for practitioners and policymakers who need to come to terms with the fact that the victims of one narrative are the perpetrators of another. The key challenge is thus to avoid perpetuating hegemonic cultural narratives at the institutional level.

The broader challenge identified by a number of stakeholders is countering the optimism in policy and institutional discourse about the transformative potential of heritage with raw pragmatism: we need to recognise the inherent difficulties in all heritage-making and equip Europe’s citizens to engage fully but also critically with the past.

The other major point made was that the sustainable management of heritage requires that it is truly accessible to all. This aspect needs to be taken into account with regards to the upcoming European Year of Cultural Heritage 2018.

Another key challenge noted was the ineffectiveness of international heritage and human rights instruments to empower communities in dealing with the challenges they face. These challenges included populist narratives and ideological appropriations of the past. For example: lack of funding for grassroots heritage actors; disagreement between heritage professionals and communities; the continued marginalisation of minorities and community groups from the spaces and tools to shape heritage representations; lack of collaboration—and the institutional funding necessary to favour it—between stakeholders. Concern was also expressed about the international canonisation of heritage (e.g. the EHL and UNESCO’s World Heritage), noting the problematic social dynamics it creates.

Last but not least, stakeholders participating in the Cultural Base Platform raised doubts about the inclusiveness and diversity of the Platform membership itself. Indeed more efforts should and can be made to involve people of ethnic minority backgrounds.

3.2.b Cultural inclusion axis

Consultations with stakeholders in the Cultural Base project point to two directions for future research and policy development:

Re-invent European identity as an inclusive concept

Acknowledge inequalities and stratifications and seek to undo them through critical research and policy initiatives from below: empowerment of civil society and constructive dialogue that is both horizontal (across sectors among the same type of actors), and vertical (among European, international, national, and regional stakeholders).

Valorise ‘marginal’ cultural heritage

Study and bring to the surface the heritage of those whose voices are not usually heard: ethnic minorities, migrant populations, urban poor, religious minorities, youth, women.

Translate research findings into categories of practice

Several practitioners involved in our workshops and online platform have noted the disconnect between elaborate frameworks analysing the functions of national and European identity and the everyday challenges faced by artists, curators, local authorities, and national or European policymakers in producing ideas, slogans,  and programmes that resonate with the average citizen (who is not a social science expert).

 Engage with stakeholders outside the main European practitioners’ networks

There is also often a disconnect between the better-established stakeholders at the national and local levels who are linked through European and other international and local-to-local networks (often supported by EU funds) and smaller stakeholders or recently-established organisations which are inadvertently excluded. Such exclusion often stems from the lack of structural funding at the local or national level, as a result of language issues (lack of good English or French/German), among other things. Digital technologies contribute towards bridging this gap but more must and can be done to pluralise the EU and make European networks more inclusive.

3.2.c Cultural creativity axis

As noted above, the process of inquiry led by the Cultural Base consortium partners was complemented by dialogue and debate with the other members of the social platform. In order to sustain this dialogue, a set of topics was proposed and creativity was linked with phenomena such as digitization, cultural remakes, cultural encounters, social innovation, new cultural practices, co-creation, citizen participation, new governance in cultural institutions, and economic changes. This was a fruitful dialogue and inputs from practitioners and policymakers contributed to defining “the lines of action to develop” in relation to the topics included in the research agenda.

Challenges identified by the stakeholders’ network in the creativity axes are:

New ‘place’ for cultural creativity in society

The dominant approach to creativity currently focuses on its economic aspects. Are there alternative ways of thinking and acting about the role of creativity in the EU? How can we argue for the rationality of public purposes in culture when the creative economy has been promoted as market-driven?

On one hand, understanding and modifying social practices considered “creative” requires locating the agents, institutions, and contexts that have the legitimacy to do so. That is, not only looking at how, but also finding the roles and positions of decision-makers. How can public and private (cultural) institutions, social and other networks provide spaces in which innovative thinking can flourish?

On the other hand, there is a lot of work to be done from an empirical point of view in order to describe which kind of creative/artistic practices are taken for granted. In this regard, case studies and an interdisciplinary framework, with professionals and academics working together, could be a good combination against preconceived notions of creativity emanating from business schools.

New approaches to the value of culture beyond the traditional economist narrative

The on-going crisis has accelerated the need for rethinking the economic model and has changed the value of culture for society. The crisis has also helped identify some of the values and directions in which we should move.

There is an increasing tendency, across sectors, to take into account the social consequences of economic activity. Nevertheless, culture’s economic value is better understood than its social value. Many things are happening in the boundaries between society and economy. Cultural and creative industries do have an impact in economy, but the dynamic generated for creative industries has become dysfunctional. Cultural and creative industries’ use of creativity is specific, but the concept of creativity is a broad concept. The limitations of the economistic perspective of creativity are not resolved by divorcing cultural practice from the economy but by finding a vision of the economy that suits culture.

New cultural governance and the emergence of new forms of scientific and artistic production

New commons have a strong feeling of sharing. They work on the basis of accessibility, common management, and peer-to-peer mentoring. They also promote the reappropriation of public spaces through participation. This allows people to contribute by making both the participation process and the technologies and tools accessible. Communities are thus built through knowledge-sharing, and citizens become part of collective practices in cultural production, enjoyment, and tuition.

New commons are agents of change. Their cultural practices are conceived as a specific way to converse with people by engaging in the social practice of a community. Their values and philosophy improve and sustain cultural exchanges and cultural participation. Due to their bottom-up nature, they are able to identify emerging needs and develop appropriate responses in tune with social and cultural realities.

New role of policymakers in the cultural and creative practices

The emergence of new and alternative forms of artistic production and cultural participation are a challenge for policymakers. What is the role of the policymakers in this type of cultural and creative practice? Should cultural institutions be conceived as a device to be used by community?

Questioning the cultural production models and helping institutions evolve by working with communities and grassroots organizations is the only way to change cultural values, cultural production systems, and cultural practices.

Cultural policy can make the difference by adopting a bottom-up logic and relying on knowledge-sharing community practices. The development of participation strategies through cultural creation processes conceives cultural institutions as open laboratories. If we want to think of cultural institutions as a device to be used by a community, cultural policies shouldn’t have as a goal the production of goods; instead, they should tend towards making cultural processes (productive and reproductive) possible.

4. Envisioning the future

4.1. Lines of action to develop

4.1.a Cultural memory axis

Memory is a huge field, with many institutional and community actors. The challenges identified above are closely connected to other issues highlighted in the suggestions under the inclusion and creativity axes. Nevertheless, we propose that we need to:

Explore all sides of memory

The complications of positive and negative pasts cannot be ignored: European societies and communities should be enabled to work with difficult histories. The processes and dynamics by which cultural encounters take place at the local level must be researched so that the potential of transnational heritage for European cultural diplomacy can also be explored.

Include communities and reinvigorate participation

Cultural memory is diminished and challenged by the twin difficulties of social exclusion and indifference to exploring certain pasts. To break this negative symbiosis we need to map heritage practice: how is heritage actually organised across Europe? Which communities are involved in the making of heritage and which communities remain excluded from this process? In what ways are communities genuinely involved with heritage-making processes and how does it impact on their lives, both materially and in terms of identity? At the same time, how do heritage-making experts and institutions seek out, foster, and administer community involvement in heritage? Which strategies are used, where, with what impacts (or lack of impacts) on communities, and how widely shared are they?

Help digital heritage serve non-commercial and educational uses of the past

Little of the promise of the digital realm as a phenomenon that would democratise and open access to heritage as a social resource has been realised. Instead, the digital divide has amalgamated existing and new forms of exclusion. However, more explicitly social uses of heritage through digital technologies do exist and new communities of practice are emerging around these, as well as new kinds of solidarity. Not only do we need to know more about the factors that make such digital heritage resources useful, there is a need to support educational and non-commercial uses thus helping to create a more diverse digital landscape oriented to social uses.

Understand the potential of heritage rights

The Council of Europe created a powerful framework for viewing heritage as a human right in its 2005 Faro Convention. However, will cultural heritage become more cohesive, participatory, and diverse when framed in human rights discourse? Could rights practice change what counts as cultural heritage and how heritage is experienced and embraced? Access to heritage may be radically transformed by digital technologies and thus also intellectual property rights, but we do not yet know how ‘heritage rights’ will shape, and be shaped by, our increasingly fractious society. We need to understand if ‘heritage rights’ might be problematic when they appear to clarify issues of legal ‘ownership’ and yet might reinforce ethnos-based identities. Heritage policies are currently being shaped by heritage rights, and we need to model their unintended consequences. We can begin this work by investigating current uses and abuses of heritage rights and determining which legal instruments best support an inclusive understanding of heritage.

4.1.b Cultural inclusion axis

There are several ways in which the challenges outlined earlier can be addressed:

Use a start-up approach

The power of new technologies should not be neglected as vehicles for inclusion as they allow citizens to have their voices heard, create their own networks, mobilise and form networks, and express themselves. Here, an important element is crowdfunding for new forms of cultural expression as well as for new groups of citizens for debates and dialogue that are not top-down or managed by governments but which can spring from local initiatives. Also, thanks to the potential of communication technologies, such local initiatives can acquire a transnational character linking people and localities across countries and allowing them to network and exchange. Research and policy initiatives should look for inclusion-focused cultural start-ups, privileging those that have a translocal/transregional dimension.

Combat cultural hierarchies both within and outside Europe

Since the Iranian Revolution in 1979, the contrast and confrontation between an essentialised ‘West’ and even more essentialised ‘Islam’ has acquired a global dimension. Symbolically, politically, and militarily this confrontation has continued to grow, gaining strength after the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 and particularly after 9/11. In the absence of the Soviet threat, the West has found in Islam and Muslims a contemporary ‘Other’ against which to affirm the superiority of its cultural and political model. At the same time, disenchanted and/or marginalized youth—both within Europe and in Arab, African, and Asian countries—have found in extremist interpretations of religion and in religiously-contextualized terrorist violence a way to express their frustration, disenfranchisement, and struggle for change. It is important to fund research and policy initiatives that combat stereotypes and perceived global hierarchies of ‘developed’ and ‘backward’ religions/societies/models of governance, and invite stakeholders to reflect critically and engage with one another, for instance promoting programmes for dialogue and exchange with countries outside Europe and North America such as India, Indonesia, but also Latin American countries like Brazil, Argentina, or Chile.


Earmark programmes and funds for high-risk, high-gain projects/initiatives

Reserve funds for research and cultural policy initiatives that are high risk (may turn into nothing) but also high gain (if successful they are particularly innovative with a strong unifying potential).

4.1.c Cultural creativity axis

 Main topics to pursue

Firstly, the current emphasis on the creative economy in policy thinking has led to culture’s economization. There are distinctive approaches to the question of value and the difficulty, in most cases, of escaping economic rationality. A new framework is needed for the cultural policy debate that seeks to identify the possible bases for alternative views of the value of culture and creativity.

Secondly, distinguishing cultural creativity from economic innovation helps us understand and promote the social conditions of people: seeking better models of social participation and organization; promoting the emergence of new and alternative forms of scientific and artistic production; establishing more sustainable relationships with our natural, social, and cultural environment.

Thirdly, cultural creativity could be considered an ideal arena for intercultural exchange, giving way to cultural hybridisation processes. However, in contrast to the traditional countries of immigration, in Europe artistic and cultural hybrid cultural forms have not gained great prominence in the public sphere or in the market, nor have they been significantly promoted, socially or politically. Thus, despite its strategic importance as a basis for cultural creativity with the potential to prevent social conflict, cultural hybridisation has not been analysed thoroughly enough at the European level.

Key Messages

Conceptualize cultural creativity beyond the economic framework. Reconsider the frameworks for creativity in the new paradigm; create common indicators to rethink the concept of creativity and its measurement; initiate a debate on models or prototypes that are relevant to measure cultural creativity oriented towards social engagement, intercultural exchange, and inclusion goals at the European level.

Create a new mapping of cultural creativity. Seek and highlight relevant opportunities at the local level to develop a mapping of local examples and best practices of cultural creativity from a plural and inclusive point of view and pay more attention to creativity processes in peripheral or non-urban areas highlight the special challenges they face and opportunities they offer.

Develop further bases of legitimation of cultural and creative industries beyond the economic sphere. Valorise the new role of cultural creators and organisations and further support horizontal networks among cultural creators and organizations from different countries and socio-economic milieus.


5. Conclusions

The Cultural Base project has highlighted a positive trend in research, policy, and practice dealing with issues of memory, identity, and creativity: there is an increasing concern about inclusiveness and self-reflexivity. Dominant cultural narratives are questioned at the local, national, and European levels. The economistic paradigm on cultural creativity and cultural expression is also drawn into question.

There is an increasing awareness that there are dark and contested moments in the shared European past and in national histories, and that citizens and civil-society actors and institutions have to be informed and empowered to participate in relevant debates and in the (re)construction or (trans)formation of their cultural heritage.

Policy documents published by the European Commission, the European Parliament, the Council of Europe, and UNESCO testify to this positive trend and to an opening up and democratisation of cultural heritage policies. Culture is also increasingly seen as a transversal factor that can have an important positive impact to socioeconomic development, employment, and growth, both directly through the cultural and creative industries but also indirectly through creating more inclusive and more cohesive societies.

Even if the overall trend is positive and encouraging, our dialogue with stakeholders has highlighted a number of challenges that need to be addressed:

  • Critical engagement with the dark sides of our past whether at the local, national, or European level is often attacked by populist politicians as unpatriotic and blind to the ‘true’ historical facts. The media do not help either in such critical engagement.
  • Citizens need to be empowered through innovative on-site or on-line consultations to participate, particularly when the questions are local or national in nature and they feel directly touched (e.g. with regard to a local monument or the history of a specific part of the country).
  • Youth, minorities, and women and their organisations often are left out of well-established networks of cooperation and exchange. There should be more cross-fertilisation between the networks that specifically address migrants or minorities and those that address cultural heritage and creativity more generally.
  • The full potential of digital technologies is not yet used to bridge this divide and empower weaker, new, or remote organisations to be part of the core dialogue and activities.
  • There is a need to overcome the purely economistic paradigm on cultural expression and creativity and see culture and heritage in their full potential for both creating new activities and jobs but also through making people feel happier, included and creative.


6. Suggested Readings

6.1 Vision Documents

Chalcraft, J. (2016) Negotiating Heritage Rights Vision Document (cultural memory axis)

Delanty, G. (2016) Entangled Memories and the European Cultural Heritage: challenges & scenarios for research Vision Document (cultural memory axis)

Fabiani, J-L. (2016) Forms and and Levels of Participation of Citizens and Civil Society in Debates on European Identity and its inclusionary/ exclusionary aspects and the role that cultural heritage plays within this Vision Document (cultural inclusion axis)

Fabiani, J-L. (2016) The European Migration Cultural Heritage Vision Document (cultural inclusion axis)

Kouki, H. (2016) Instrumentalizing European Cultural Heritage: exclusionary challenges & suggestions for inclusion Vision Document (cultural inclusion axis)

Poulot, D. (2016) Uses of Heritage Vision Document (cultural memory axis)

Rodríguez Morató, A., N. Papastergiadis, F. Richard (2016) Cultural hybridization in Europe Vision Document (cultural creativity axis)

Schlesinger P. (2016) Cultural Creativity and Value Vision Document (cultural creativity axis)

Schlesinger, P., A. Uzelac
, C. Waelde (2016) The Digital Single Market Vision Document (cultural creativity axis)

Stankovic, I. (2016) Valuing Heritage as Learning and Entertaining Resources Vision Document (cultural memory axis)

Triandafyllidou, A. (2016) The Role of Religion and Secularism in Defining European Identity and Culture: challenges, scenarios and ways forward of the document Vision Document (cultural inclusion axis)

Zarlenga M. (2016) New Frameworks of Cultural Creativity Vision Document (cultural creativity axis)


6.2 Key Policy Documents

Advisory Group on Societal Challenge 6 (2014) Resilient Europe: Societal Challenge 6: Europe in a changing world – inclusive, innovative and reflective societies, Recommendations to the European Commission

Council of Europe (2016) Council Of Europe Framework Convention On The Value Of Cultural Heritage For Society – The Faro Action Plan 2016-17, Secretariat Memorandum 
prepared by the
 Directorate of Democratic Governance Democratic Institutions and Governance Department

Council of Europe (2016) Draft European Cultural Heritage Strategy For The 21st Century, Secretariat Memorandum 
prepared by the
 Directorate of Democratic Governance Democratic Institutions and Governance Department

Edwards, L., Escande, A. (2015) MS21: White Paper European Cultural Commons, Europeana Milestone

European Commission (2015) Getting cultural heritage to work for Europe, Report of the Horizon 2020 Expert Group on Cultural Heritage

European Commission (2016) Horizon 2020: Societal Challenge 6 Europe in a changing world – Inclusive, innovative and reflective societies, Expert Advisory Group recommendations on 2018-2020 Work Programme

European Commission (2016) Proposal for a Decision Of The European Parliament And Of The Council on a European Year of Cultural Heritage

European Commission (2016) Towards an EU strategy for international cultural relations, Joint Communication To The European Parliament And The Council

Horizon 2020 (2016) Towards the 2018-2020 Work Programme, Europe in changing world – Inclusive, Innovative and Reflective Societies, External advice and societal engagement


6.3 Scholarly works

Delanty, G. (2017) The European Heritage: A critical interpretation. London: Routledge.

Fabiani, J-L. (2014) “Cultural Governance and the Crisis of Financial Capitalism”, Culture Unbound, vol. 6, p. 211-221.

Fabiani, J-L. (2015) “Changes in the Public Sphere (1983-2013)”, Eurozine, March 2014, http://www.eurozine.com/articles/2014-06-11-fabiani-tr.html (translated into, Russian,  and Turkish, French version published in Esprit, 3, mars-avril, 165-177).

MacDonald, S. (2013) Memorylands: Heritage and Identity in Europe Today. London: Routledge.

Pakier, M. and B. Strath (eds) (2010). A European Memory: Contested Histories & Politics of Remembrance. Oxford: Berghahn.

Poulot, D. (2012) “Museum Studies” in Matthew Rampley, Charlotte Schoell-Glass, Andrea Pinotti, Kitty Zijlmans, Hubert Locher, Thierry Lenain (eds) Art History and Visual Studies in Europe. A Critical Guide, Leiden, Brill, p. 197-215.

Poulot, D. (2015) “The Changing roles of art museums” in Peter Aronsson and Gabriella Elgenius (eds), National Museums and Nation-building in Europe 1750-2010. Mobilization and Legitimacy, Continuity and Change. London: Routledge, p. 87-119.

Poulot, D. (2014) Mobilization and Legitimacy, Continuity and Change. London:  Routledge, p. 87-119.

Poulot, D. (2017) “The French Museology”, Discussing Heritage and Museums. Crossing Paths of France and Serbia, Sirogojno, Open Air Museum, p. 15-39.

Rampley, Matthew, Charlotte Schoell-Glass, Andrea Pinotti, Kitty Zilhmans, Hubert Locher and Thierry Lenain (eds) (2012) Art History and Visual Studies in Europe: A Critical Guide. Leiden: Brill, pp. 197-215.

Rodríguez Morató, A. (2012) ‘The Culture Society: A Heuristic for Analysing Cultural Change in the Global Society’ in Arnaud Sales, Sociology Today: Social Transformations in a Globalizing World, London, Sage, 2012, pp.316 – 338.

Schlesinger P. (forthcom ing) “The creative economy: reflections on the European case” in C. Waelde and A. Brown (eds.) The Research Handbook on Intellectual Property and the Creative Industries. Cheltenham, UK: Edward Elgar Publishing.

Schlesinger, P. (2017) “The creative economy: invention of a global orthodoxy”, Innovation: The European Journal of Social Science Research 30(1) 2017: 73-90 DOI:http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/13511610.2016.1201651

Schlesinger, P., M. Selfe and E. Munro (2015) Curators of cultural enterprise: a critical analysis of a creative business intermediary. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2015, pp.134. ISBN 978-1-137-47887-0.

Triandafyllidou, A. and R. Gropas (2015) What is Europe. London: Palgrave.

Zarlenga, M.I., J. Rius Ulldemolins, and 333A. Rodríguez Morató (2016) “Cultural clusters and social interaction dynamics: The case of Barcelona”, European Urban and Regional Studies, 23 (3): 422 – 440.DOI: 10.1177/0969776413514592