Forum on European Culture held in the Netherlands

How art and culture can re-create Europe calling for unity and embracing diversity

June 14th, 2016
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The new biennial forum created by DutchCulture, the centre for international cooperation in Amsterdam, and De Balie, an art platform dating back to the 19th century. Performances, talks and debates, exhibitions and film screenings took place all over Amsterdam, in collaboration with the Stedelijk Museum, Het Concertgebouw, DeLaMar Theater, and many other cultural institutions.

As the Netherlands is currently leading the European Union, it was an important meeting which discussed “What is Europe?” and how art and culture can rejuvenate a feeling of unity and the feeling of being European.

The forum focused on the strength, impact and value that art and culture can bring to Europe and examined questions around shared cultural values, how art and culture can offer creative solutions for problems that seem to divide Europe, and how European artists can shape the future of Europe.

The meeting was opened with an unique performance, directed by world-leading theatre director Ivo van Hove, by British actor Jude Law, German actor Lars Eidinger and Dutch actors Gijs Scholten van Aschat, Hugo Koolschijn and Chris Nietvelt from ‘Toneelgroep Amsterdam’.

One of the highlights was a nonstop 12hr interview marathon led by architect Rem Koolhaas, who designed the Dutch embassy here in Berlin, and political theorist Luuk van Middelaar. The interview aimed to answer the question “What is Europe?”.

In a speech by Anoek Nuyens, dramaturg and theatre maker, the role of theatre in today’s Europe was being discussed. Nuyens spoke about a trip she made to Bulgaria and she said the following: “This embodiment of the willingness to exchange thoughts regardless of differences in culture and language that moves me to this very day.

Perhaps that is the essence of what theatre can be in these times of uncertainty: to create spaces where you come together with strangers to tackle pressing matters and complex dilemmas”.

Bulgarian political scientist Ivan Krastev spoke about “Eight Visions for Europe” in the context of the disintegration of Europe and the anxiety currently felt in Europe. He outlined four lessons learned from precious collapsing unions and four problems Europe is facing today.

The meeting was concluded through a speech by the Dutch Minister of Education, Culture and Science Jet Bussemaker. She spoke about the importance of the forum and how artists can “give us wings to lift Europe to a higher plane and raise out thinking to a higher level”, and that they can offer alternatives to one-dimensional views.

She also spoke about Europe as sharing culture and values that connect us, and that especially now, when people are questioning the European Union, we must stand together and feel united through diversity.


Cultural Diplomacy News
Dominique Schmutzer, CD News