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    The contribution of culture in combating poverty and social


    International seminar

    ththth17, 18 and 19 October 2010

    Cultural Centre ? Le Botanique ?, Brussels




    The seminar entitled “The contribution of culture in combating poverty and social exclusion” is organised as part of the Belgian Presidency of the Council of the European Union. The seminar is due to take place on 17, 18 and 19 October 2010 at Cultural Centre “Le Botanique” in Brussels.

    This event is organised by the General Service for Youth and Continuing Education at the General Administration of the Ministry of Culture for the French-speaking Community in Belgium with the support of the European Commission.

    The seminar will host participants from the 27 Member States: professionals from European institutions, representatives from international bodies working in this sector, national administrations, experts, associations and cultural professionals are expected to attend.



    The seminar which is organised within the context of the “European Year for combating poverty and social exclusion” aims at demonstrating that combating poverty and social exclusion directly

    involves cultural policies.

    This purpose is intrinsically linked to the strategic and specific objectives outlined both in the European Cultural Agenda and in the 2008-2010 Work Plan for culture. The subjects debated throughout the seminar will indeed treated with this same dynamic: the work will be in keeping with a process which emphasises the transversal role of culture and favours cultural diversity.

    The EU 2020 Strategy, of which the objective is to implement smart, sustainable and inclusive growth in Europe, additionally aims at extending the European Year. Indeed, the Flagship Initiative “A European Platform against Poverty” sets as its objective the recognition of the fundamental

    rights of people who live in poverty and social exclusion: it is a question of providing these people with the means of living in dignity and to actively participate in society. In this context, the seminar will define culture not as a replacement or a remedy for social and economic inequalities, but as an important resource for personal development and social cohesion.

    Finally, this seminar will be extended by the adoption, during the Council of European Ministers for Culture on 18 November 2010, of Conclusions which promote the transversal role that Culture has to play in this area, notably by underlining the need to integrate the cultural dimension in national and European policies for combating poverty and social exclusion



    Two primary subject areas have been outlined, each of which will be developed during two workshop sessions: access to culture and cultural participation.

    Through contributions which will deal with theoretical and political programmes, coupled with exchanges relating to practices in this subject area, the objectives of the seminar aim to:

    - promote the cultural effects of processes of social exclusion and situations of poverty; - open pathways to improve access to cultural life for people experiencing poverty or social exclusion ;

    - clarify the means of fostering participation and cultural expression of people who are living in poverty and social exclusion, who are often faced with a lack of recognition; - understand how to value the cultural creativity inherent in people and groups of people in vulnerable situations, and to recognise their contribution towards the cultural dynamism of our societies by encouraging attention to cultural diversity;

    - reflect on methods likely to favour the participation of citizens and the exercise of social, economic and cultural rights of people experiencing poverty and social exclusion; - reflect on the conditions underlying a better development of cultural policies with policies to combat poverty by avoiding stigmatising effects;

    - outline cultural policy guidelines linked to combating poverty and social exclusion and the construction of social ties and insist on the transversal nature of culture; - strengthen synergies between the cultural, education, youth and social sectors.

    Lastly, cultural activities will be organised during the seminar in order to punctuate the debates and the evenings with artistic events testifying to the commitment of many Belgian artists and associations to a reflection and an action in favour of social inclusion.



     thMonday 18 October

    10:00 Registration of participants

    10:45 11:30 Opening Ceremony

    11:30 12:00 Plenary Session 1

    Workshop Session 1 Access to Culture

    ; 1.a. How can access to culture be planned today? Aside

    practical barriers (financial, physical) what other obstacles 12:00 13:30

    exist for the most underprivileged people in accessing culture?

    ; 1.b. Information and mastery of information technologies

    ; 1.c. Combating stereotypes

    13:30 15:00 Lunch

    Workshop Session 2 Cultural Participation

    ; 2a. Urban cultural interaction 15:00 16:30

    ; 2b. Education in culture and citizenship

    ; 2c. Artistic creativity

    thTuesday 19 october

    09:00 11:00 Plenary Session 2

    11:00 11:30 Coffee Break

    11:30 12:30 Plenary Session 3

    12:30 13:00 Closing Ceremony

    13:00 Lunch



1) Access to culture

    Different types of people may be considered as particularly exposed to the risk of cultural exclusion: in particular people in economic difficulty, the unemployed, refugees and immigrants, people with disabilities, people who are stigmatised or weakened in their self-dignity. These people are more likely to suffer from low self-esteem and self-confidence, which can be considered as the minimum conditions for social and cultural involvement.

    Confronted with this observation, the issue of accessing culture cannot be restricted to accessing cultural services. It should be extended to the issue of restoring the conditions for self-dignity. The workshops will focus particularly on practices which demonstrate how access to cultural services and institutions can contribute to restoring dignity which, relying on local cultural work, succeed in developing a “desire” for culture. Reflection will be led on the issue of accessing culture in terms of the relation to oneself as developed by people and groups in difficult situations. The aim of these three workshops will therefore be to highlight the practices and projects which contribute towards lifting obstacles, and therefore allowing everyone to gain concrete access to cultural activities, an essential dimension in promoting an all-inclusive society.

    Workshop 1a. How can access to culture be planned today? Aside practical barriers (financial, physical) what other obstacles exist for the most underprivileged people in accessing culture?

    This workshop will use as a basis the hypothesis according to which the issue of accessing culture today revolves around different dimensions. Access to culture is generally thought out in terms of the right to access cultural goods and services. This focus primarily refers to the economic dimension to accessing cultural goods and the mechanisms established to facilitate the access to culture for people experiencing poverty or social exclusion. Beyond the financial aspect, this perspective additionally refers to the geographic dimension of accessing culture, which underlines the policies of mobility, the geographical distribution of cultural facilities and activities, and the issues of specific access to culture for disabled people. However, in line with this focus, it is necessary to reflect not only on the right of access but also in terms of the desire to access culture. This reflection refers to the initiative of empowerment which aims at creating desire, for instance through cultural work based upon creativity and relying on the fact that it is through a transformation of the relationship between oneself and culture that an increased openness to cultural goods and that a desire for culture will be created. Self-esteem may in such an instance be found, a self-esteem which social and economic exclusion would have contributed to destroying. The role played by cultural institutions in this area will also be examined.

Workshop 1b. Information and mastery of information technologies

    In order to participate in cultural life, it is naturally necessary to be informed, to have access codes and to be able to participate. Existing information means are not always adapted in terms of their intelligibility, legibility, and availability. In terms of information, this workshop will place particular focus on the role of new technologies in examining the conditions which favour access to these technologies for everyone. This will be the opportunity to focus on “digital Europe”, and the role of public libraries.

    However, in supposing a guaranteed access to information technologies, it is known that these contribute to an increased segmentation of the public, and towards the creation of what could be called information communities, just as they may be, more positively, intense areas for cultural creativity, the emergence of new codes, new innovative practices, and where appropriate distanced from major standards of commercial culture. It is within this context that this workshop will focus on the conditions of a true cultural policy in terms of information and communication technology, centred around facilitating access to information but also encouraging the development of cultural creativity of excluded populations.

Workshop 1c. Combating stereotypes

    Much work into cultural practices draws attention both to the existence and preservation of cultural hierarchies, strong opposition between legitimate and illegitimate cultures, as well as the existence of large social barriers of which one of the consequences lies in the fact that some cultural goods appear as foreign and unobtainable to economically underprivileged social groups. In short, cultural goods, their various genres (opera, classical music, techno music, rap, literature, theatre, etc.) are the subject of what could be termed social “markings”, or even stereotypes which contribute to fuelling and preserving obstacles to the distribution and social interaction of cultural practices. Conversly, it can be presumed that the environment of cultural practices, the venues in which they take place and the decorum which surround them contribute in addition to economic

    inequality towards reinforcing these obstacles. This workshop will focus particularly on the practices of combating cultural stereotypes, the initiatives of “demystification” of cultural genres

    which are heavily marked socially, and also initiatives which aim at combating stereotypes of which people experiencing social exclusion and poverty are the direct victims. These stereotypes contribute in a certain manner towards anticipating their relationship to culture and in this respect operate as vectors of exclusion.

    Education, in the widest sense, has a major role to play in the development of representations and behaviour, both in school and in the community. Particular focus will be granted through this workshop to the role of school in the early and initial fight against stereotypes, and to the place of art and culture in a school which is also planned as an area for the coexistence of differences.

    The positive role which media and new technologies may play in this area shall additionally be underlined.

2) Cultural participation

    Cultural participation will be presented here as a real tool for combating all forms of social exclusion. Projects and activities involving the participation and expression of people who are excluded allow them to be aware, to express themselves and to be heard, to be creative and actively involved in their own lives, to regain self-confidence, and to take a place within society. Cultural participation constitutes an essential lever for integration and prevention, through consideration of people’s qualities and potential, rather than constituting shortcomings and

    failures. It is furthermore necessary to be attentive to the quality and sustainability of cultural participation. A society which encourages strong artistic and cultural life strengthens in turn active citizenship.

Workshop 2a. Urban cultural interaction

    Urban revitalisation through culture is an essential asset for planning the towns and cities of today as well as their future development. Urban policies are, notably through their scales, privileged areas in which participative practices can develop. When these policies target underprivileged areas, they provide the opportunity of creating the conditions for greater attention and participation of citizens. Urban regeneration is one of the markers of the attention placed on the various populations inhabiting towns and cities. Urban policies constitute an essential stake in the redistribution of resources, in issues of accessibility, as well as in issues relating to living conditions. Through its very dynamism, and often through its cosmopolitan nature, the urban landscape is a fertile land for culture to which local authorities should pay attention. Encouraging the construction of new cultural facilities enables sustainable preservation of a section of the urban area by making this accessible to the residents within a community, thereby fostering meetings and social exchanges. Urban cultures are the result of a multidisciplinary mix of artistic forms and content both traditional and new. This workshop will develop the fact that urban cultural policies are both a source of development and a creator of identities. By targeting social interaction, the distribution of and access to facilities, the renovation of underprivileged areas and by encouraging the participation of citizens and urban regeneration, urban policies carry cultural ambitions and can significantly contribute towards combating cultural exclusion.

Workshop 2b. Education in culture and citizenship

    Education and raising awareness of the general public are essential elements in constructing a Europe which is based on the respect of cultural diversity and intercultural dialogue. Within public initiatives, educational policies and cultural policies develop often in an ill- or under-coordinated manner. Yet, many observations have shown that the difficulties in democratisation policies for culture and the continuing gaps in cultural practices in line with the social background of individuals, are evidence of the deficit of education in culture.

    As, moreover, the increasing importance of culture and “lifelong education only contribute

    towards the worsening of social inequalities when it is poorly considered by public authorities or when the latter do not develop voluntarist policies, targeting the weakened and underprivileged

    population. It is in light of these observations that these workshops will seek to debate the need and conditions for a better coordination of educational policies with cultural policies. The purpose is to explore the benefits of synergy between education and culture and to demonstrate that better cooperation between the cultural and educational domains bolsters mutual comprehension and social cohesion on a local, national and European level. Education and raising public awareness are key elements in constructing a Europe based on the respect of cultural diversity and intercultural dialogue. On the one hand, formal and informal education both aim at developing participation in and the comprehension of culture and art. On the other hand, learning through cultural experiences enables the development of creative, personal and interpersonal competences, which can be of value both on the employment market and in social and citizen’s life. Finally, the community sector, primarily that of informal education, plays an essential role notably in reflecting on how to plan and implement a policy and practices for education in culture with economically underprivileged populations, but also in reflecting on how the very involvement in community structures constitutes, as such, an important lever in cultural learning.

Workshop 2c. Artistic creativity

    Artistic and cultural innovation, creativity and creation have an intrinsic value. Culture may be a motor for behavioural change and more widely societal change when creativity, which is intrinsically linked to this, is encouraged in an individual from an early age. It is a question of showing that culture, as a catalyst for creativity, contributes towards the implementation of a new way of living focussed around the capacity of an individual to break with established conventions, to make a break from typical lines of thought in order to enable the development of a new vision, idea or innovative thought. This workshop will place particular focus on the conditions in which cultural and artistic creativity are likely to encourage, within socially excluded and economically underprivileged individuals, the development of these qualities of self-esteem and self-confidence, which are absolutely essential in constructing an active, responsible and participative citizen. The workshop will additionally deal with the requirement of quality and the perspectives for validating this type of cultural production in the field of culture as such..


Translation Interpretation

Plenary sessions :

    Interventions will be translated into four languages :

    - French

    - Dutch

    - German

    - English

Workshops :

    Interventions will be translated into two languages :

    - French

    - English

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