The Hon. Erna Hennicot Schoepges (Former Minister of Culture and Religious Affairs of Luxembourg)

18.02.2011 - Interview conducted by Emma Lough & Moushumi Bhadra

Q1. Prior to entering the political sphere, you were a musician. Do you feel that the arts and music are increasing valued by governments within Europeas a way to improve international relations and how important is it that they are used to aid international dialogue?

Arts and music are opening many doors. These are doors that could not be opened by other political action. They are important for governments to develop relations that could otherwise not be achievedthrough economics, through military alliances or common political policy.

Q2. You are on the jury for the European Capitals of Culture programme.Do you think that this programme is having an important effect in exposing national culture and national history to a wider European audience or is it rather more for developing a greater sense of national identity?

In fact, the model has aimed at making Europe more popular and is less concerned with national identities. The jury therefore looks for how much of Europe will be presented and communicatedthrough the selection of certain Capitals of Culture. Of course, if you are talking about Europe, before looking at the wider space, you have to look to the local identity. If we are talking about national identity, we have to look at minority populations that also shape national identity. Furthermore, the concept of identity is shifting further to diversity. Europe should help us further this reality of diversity. There is an opportunity for one year for a European city to have the funding, to have the prestige from the label and to form links with former Capitals of European Culture. As you know, the model for this programme will be running out in 2019. At this very moment, we are thinking about what should be the next step.

Q3. With the end of the model of the European Capitals of Culture, is there a greater need for innovation and collaboration in European-based cultural policy? How important is this particularly in light of the reformation of the EU budget?

First of all, Europe has to be very active in the field of mobility. Only 3% of students are studying outside of their country. Concerning culture, there are major visa problems for artists that hinder them for travelling throughout Europe. The model of Europe is the supposition that countries know about culture in other countries. For me, with the end of the model of the European Capitals of Culture, it is important that we have a new, sustainable model for EU-based institutions.  We also need national governments to be invested in culture.


Thank you for your time Ms. Hennicot-Schoepges and enjoy the rest of the conference.