Identities, knowledge and sustainability

The second day of CULTUROPOLIS filled the Parallel with debates and experiences on cultural rights.

The second day of CULTUROPOLIS took place yesterday at Parl·lel 62 and El Molino, with debates, talks, workshops and an academic conference on cultural rights. On time, and in their pyjamas, Alba Rihe and Gloria Ribera opened the session with a brief humorous performance to situate the audience and welcome them. While the two performers talked about how expensive coffee with milk is, the room filled up to such an extent that there were no empty seats left.

If each day had its own main theme, yesterday morning's was to put the concept of cultural rights into context. To whom do they appeal? How are they to be guaranteed? The first debate, in the Paral·lel 62 hall, moderated by Gemma Carbó, director of the Carulla Foundation's Museum of Rural Life, was attended by the philosopher Patrice Meyer-Bisch, the anthropologist Lucina Jiménez, and the artist Jordi Ferreiro. The starting question was clear: Cultural rights, for whom? And although the answer is known from the outset (for everyone), in order to answer it correctly, one cannot lose sight of many aspects, such as, for example, delimiting what cultural rights are.

Lucina Jiménez explained that in Mexico, cultural rights used to be talked about in the background, as human rights took precedence, but when they started talking about cultural rights, doubts arose: "what should be protected?”. The question introduced two complementary issues into the Paral·lel 62 debate: identity and dignity. According to Meyer-Bisch, when we talk about identity, we talk about the challenge of knowledge. And in order to recognise ourselves, we need to recognise other people, which is why we need to share all forms of knowledge, be it through cuisine, languages or fundamental rights.

From identities to access to knowledge. Jordi Ferreiro emphasised its importance in democratising culture. "There is a lack of educational archives. We must generate them so that we can have references and shape them in our own way”. And he highlighted the great role played by local and proximity spaces in this process: "the cultural centre in my neighbourhood transformed me as a person, a citizen and an artist". All three agreed that a person has the right to participate in the cultural resources that allow them to live their identification process throughout their lives, and that it is necessary to "analyse practices to see what works and what doesn't work", as Meyer-Bisch explained. To this, Ferreiro added: "we have to be present in cultural projects, especially in their beginnings, but when the time comes, it is important to know how to disengage and pass them on to the people".

The second debate focused on answering the question Can cultural rights be guaranteed? Moderated by Inés Cémara, president of the association A Reserva, the participants were researcher Fran Quiroga, human rights lawyer Laurence Cuny, and culture and politics professional Luca Bergamo. For Laurence Cuny, it is crucial to share knowledge on cultural rights, and she gave the example of France, where a law guarantees access to cultural processes. According to the lawyer, it was curious that no complaints had been received in the framework of rights, but there had been complaints against formats and content of cultural events. Why does this happen? Do people not feel comfortable enough to claim their rights, or is it the lack of organisation that prevents them from exercising them?

Another relevant mechanism to achieve this is the communities in which they can rely on. Quiroga emphasised that "in order to guarantee rights, the community is very important and to ensure that people can access cultural centres, as well as having our own spaces for enunciation". Furthermore, in order to guarantee cultural rights in the long term, they need to be valued by society. One way to achieve this would be to reformulate the way in which cultural projects are approached: "we must be accountable to the citizenry to show that thanks to these cultural processes, the communities where they are implemented are more cohesive, there is more happiness, and thanks to this transparency we also obtain a budget and more legitimisation", Quiroga affirmed.

CULTUROPOLIS also delved into an often forgotten topic, that of the link between cultural rights and environmental, social and economic balance. Culture and sustainability: myth, fashion or necessity? was moderated by Isabelle Le Galo Flores, director in Spain of the Daniel and Nina Carasso Foundation, and included the participation of Rocío Nogales Muriel, director of the EMES network, Jordi Panyella, from Pol·len Edicions, John Crowley, president of PHGD Group, and Alexandra Xanthaki, UN Special Rapporteur on Cultural Rights, who was also the focus of the opening event of CULTUROPOLIS. The five took the lead in a debate in which they shared their own experiences, points of view -and even recited poetry-, and placed great emphasis on defining the concept of sustainability.

For John Crowley, sustainability is itself a myth, a fad and a necessity. "A thing is sustainable if you can maintain it indefinitely and it is not sustainable if you cannot continue without hitting a wall". Crowley therefore considered it essential to identify the walls in order to be able to work with well-identified solutions. According to Rocío Nogales, "we must become aware of the limits of the world in which we live and that this awakening will help us to do, to say and to do by saying". In short, for her, this awakening will lead us to take ownership of the communities' knowledge, since the solutions we need already exist in society. Every activity has a carbon footprint, as all the speakers were aware, but the aim is to find solutions to minimise it. In this sense, Jordi Panyella made it clear that "the ecological book does not exist, as everything will always have an impact, but as it also has a positive cultural impact, we will continue to do so while trying to reduce the ecological impact as much as possible".

The day brought together many more activities. El Molino hosted the academic conference presentations, various workshops and the presentation of projects, of real experiences that represent steps forward in the exercise of cultural rights in all their dimensions. And in both halls, workshops were organised to promote initiatives such as the elaboration of a decalogue of ideas for a municipal charter of digital cultural rights. Until Saturday, CULTUROPOLIS will continue to make us reflect on cultural rights and celebrate it in a public street party to close the conference.

Publication date: Friday, 18 November 2022
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