Culture at a crossroads: ENCATC urges for the sector to take new and unfamiliar paths
On 19 October in Valletta, Malta, ENCATC President, Annick Schramme was an invited expert to speak at the 7th World Summit on Arts and Culture. For her intervention, Prof. Annick Schramme shared her expertise on the panel What are the issues that have brought us to the crossroads? where she was joined by Jane Chu, Chairperson National Endowment for the Arts (USA), Oussama Rifahi, Director Arab Fund for Culture (Lebanon), and Carlos Javier Villaseñor Anaya, Cultural policy expert (Mexico/Panama). Moderated by Sarah Gardner, Executive Director IFACCA (Australia) the panel reflected on the pressing issues that have brought us to the crossroads and have a profound impact on the cultural sector.
Culture and policies around the world are transforming and being reformed as the sector seeks to keep abreast of various developments: from changing contexts for sustaining and developing national cultural markets, austerity measures and shrinking budgets, to the new players and concepts influencing cultural development (including the role of local governments), and more challenging contexts such as instability provoked by war, terrorism and population displacement. These issues determine the context in which we reflect on why culture matters, how we value the arts and develop them, where we are, and where we might be going.
During her presentation, ENCATC's President put forth an optimistic outlook for the future, but urged for the cultural sector to take risk and not have fear to going in an unfamiliar direction: "I would call for us at this crossroads to take a route that challenges and creates away from our comfort zone. We cannot afford to take only one route. I feel the future is about investment in new ways of asking questions, of experimentation, of gathering answers from unfamiliar sources. We need to be able to explore all of these routes concurrently. I know it’s a lot to ask, but I’m sure that we cannot afford - at least at ENCATC - to look to our archives of 25 years and conclude we are still formulating the same answers to the same challenges. So this is our chance to step off the route and invest in new questions."
To take this new path, Annick Schramme strongly advocated for cultural leadership, collaboration both in and outside the sector, leading the conversation with policy makers, matching artists with cultural managers to combine skills sets and resources, and networking to foster relationships, innovation and create synergies.
For this major international event, Professor Schramme has also contributed to the Summit's discussion papers with her essay on Cultural leadership from a European perspective.