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Culture, art… we often have the impression that they are the poor relations of European policy. The cousin from the provinces that we don’t want to hear about. By the admission of Julie Ward, MEP of the Socialist and Democratic Group, when she was elected to the European Parliament, she was asked not to join the Culture and Education Committee but rather the Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs, where she could have stronger influence on European cultural policies.
It is true that the competence of the European Union for cultural and artistic questions remains very limited, non-exclusive as in the field of education. It’s indeed the case that the Union can only supplement the action of the Member States and the main instrument for action remains financial.
However, we can no longer simply point the finger at the European institutions for their lack of support for culture and art in particular. Today there are several plans to promote cultural and artistic policies at the European level. One of the best examples is the organization of the “Street Arts for Inclusive Societies” conference by the S&D group, which has allowed actors in the art world to show the benefits of art for many. One of the outstanding examples at the heart of the news was the association “Refugees Got Talent”, which allows refugees to express themselves through art. It should also be emphasized that the Creative Europe program is a useful tool for funding cultural projects and activities, which requires a lot of time and investment from cultural actors. AEDH supports these European initiatives that support the artistic world, which often lacks resources to exist. Unfortunately, there was no adoption of an objective on access to culture and art in the European Pillar of Social Rights. It would have been a strong and visible signal that would have highlighted the efforts made by the European Union.
Because yes, art is important from different angles.
Art is a vector of social cohesion and it shapes cities and spaces and sometimes makes them much more alive. At the “Street Arts for Inclusive Societies” conference, Fabrizio Gavosto, the artistic director of Mirabilia, said that he had seen cities transformed thanks to hosting festivals. Cities have been revitalized by the creation and development of a festival. And even if it is difficult to measure, AEDH supports the vision of artistic expression as a means of inclusion.
In addition, art helps to stimulate the critical sense. The European Parliament has relayed OECD studies which show that art, if it is taught, helps develop this ability. And at this time of growing populism and often insufficient arguments against it, surely the development of critical sense via art could be a great way to combat this phenomenon. Because art is a way to condemn and fight dangerous ideas for our societies. Take “Guernica”, painted in 1937 by Picasso who was criticizing the Nazi bombing carried out at the request of General Franco.
Art helps stimulate creativity. This seems obvious, but the European Parliament document underlines the importance of this for the emerging economy. It is emphasized that in a globalized multicultural world, art provides a means to apprehend this world. In addition, it would allow citizens to develop the creativity they need to understand this new environment that always demands more ideas and innovations. Art would then have an economic purpose! This is why the teaching of art in education should be developed and not depend on budgetary adjustment.
But let’s finish on an even bigger note. Art allows people in need or difficulty to express themselves when they would not be able to do so via “traditional” communication channels. Jérôme Lacinga believes that art is a practice that can help to create a bond and help people to consider themselves other than via their personal circumstances.
Art can cure, restore to health and give a place to people who may otherwise not find one. Why not then continue to encourage it?
Inclusion implies that anyone, regardless of their situation, can live their citizenship. How to enable people who are suffering to integrate into our societies? One of the answers seems to be given by this author: thanks to art.
The year 2018 will be the year of cultural heritage. Let us hope that the European Union will continue to develop cultural policies and that the Member States will follow suit.
 European Parliament, « Arts, culture, and cultural awareness in education », 2017
 LACINGA, Jérôme, « L’art au service de l’inclusion sociale », 2015